The Must-Dos in Turangi: The Gateway to the Tongariro National Park
If you love the great outdoors, then you’ll no doubt love the adventures surrounding the town of Turangi. On the southern shores of Lake Taupo, Turangi is an excellent base for white water rafting, fishing and hiking along the Tongariro River, hitting the volcanic terrain of the Tongariro National Park, and discovering hidden gems like the Kaimanawa Mountains. We’ll go through just some of the highlights in this list of things to do in Turangi!
If staying for a while, save the cents by staying in one of these budget accommodation options in Turangi.
1. Hike the Tongariro Crossing
Just 20 minutes drive from the Tongariro Crossing, Turangi is a fantastic base for doing New Zealand’s most popular day hike. Hike 19km through dramatic volcanic landscapes complete with steaming vents, volcanic cones, red craters and emerald-coloured lakes. Sounds like your sort of adventure? Book your Tongariro Crossing transport from Turangi with Active Outdoor Adventures. Plus, check out how to do this hike over at Tongariro Crossing Accommodation and Transport: A Practical Guide.
Location: The Ketetahi Car Park for the Tongariro Crossing is 24km (15 miles) from Turangi. Take State Highway 1 south, then State Highway 46 where the Ketetahi Car Park is signposted.
2. Check Out the Birthplace of the Haka
The Ka Mate Haka, the Haka performed by the All Blacks, was created just a stone’s throw away from Turangi. Opotaka is a historical Maori pa site (fortified village) where you can learn about the history of the Haka, see the remains of the Maori settlement, and enjoy amazing views of Mt Tongariro across Lake Rotoaira.
Location: 13km (8 miles) from Turangi. Follow State Highway 47 for 9km (5.5 miles) where Opotaka is signposted.
3. Check Out the Tongariro National Trout Centre
If you’re a wildlife nut or happen to have a fascination for trout, then don’t miss the Tongariro National Trout Centre. Not only can you see trout in all shapes and sizes at the hatchery but the Trout Centre also holds an aquarium of native freshwater fish and even a blue duck (whio) enclosure as part of local conservation efforts. Short bushwalks also host an array of native birds along with views across the Tongariro River.
Location: 4km (2 miles) from Turangi. Head south on State Highway 1 where the Tongariro National Trout Centre is well signposted.
4. Experience Fishing in the Trout Fishing Capital!
They say Turangi is the “Trout Fishing Capital of the World” and for good reason! The Tongariro River is a world-class fishing river where the population of rainbow trout leave the waters of Lake Taupo every year to spawn in. Whether you want to try fly-fishing in the Tongariro River or join a fishing charter on Lake Taupo, you’ll quickly see why the Turangi locals are “hooked” on trout fishing. A great place to start with planning your fishing experience is with the local fishing lodges like Tongariro Lodge or hire a fly-fishing guide.
Location: Tongariro River. Look out for fishing access signs along the Tongariro River Trail. You must hold a Taupo District Fishing License to fish in the river. See What You Need to Know About Fishing in New Zealand for more information.
5. Walk Around Lake Rotopounamu
Walk in the magnificent forest of Lake Rotopounamu to the sounds of birds and the views of this crater lake. Rotopounamu means “Lake Greenstone” in Maori and you’ll see why when you lay your eyes on the beautiful green hues of the water. The 2-hour loop walk around the lake takes you through lush forest to three beaches alongside the lake. Find more walks in the area in the 12 Turangi Walks You Can’t Miss.
Location: 12km (7 miles) from Turangi. Find the walk and car park signposted about 8km (5 miles) along State Highway 47.
6. Hike or Bike the Tongariro River Trail
Experience the great outdoors on this 15km (9-mile) loop following the Tongariro River. Accessible from town, the Tongariro River Trail is a grade 2 cycling and walking trail crossing a couple of swing bridges and providing awesome views of the river along the way. See a mix of landscapes, from urban to the countryside to native forest, on this varied trail. Shorter loops can be done by crossing the Major Jones Bridge.
Location: While there are several access points to the trail, the most popular place to start is from the Tongariro River Bridge on State Highway 1.
7. Go White Water Rafting on the Tongariro River
Yes, another awesome activity on the Tongariro River is white water rafting! Join a trip on the grade 3 stretch of river with more than 50 rapids to tackle. See a mixture of scenery from deep river gorges to rolling countryside on this rafting trip that’s suitable for all ages. Alternatively, try the grade 4 trip on the river only available a few times a year. Book your white water rafting trip with Rafting New Zealand (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Tongariro River Rafting (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Tongariro River Rafting – 95 Atirau Road, approximately 1.5km (0.9 miles) from Turangi town centre.
8. Have a Turangi Pie!
Yes, New Zealand has an obsession with savoury pies and some of the best pies in the country can be found right here in Turangi. If you’re only going to try pie once while you’re in New Zealand, make it one from the Turangi Bakery.
Location: 77 Ohuanga Road.
9. Ski on Mt Ruapehu
During the winter months, Mt Ruapehu is open for business! Take one of the mountain shuttles from Turangi to New Zealand’s largest ski field, Whakapapa. Not only is does the ski field have the longest-running season in the country, but it also gives you the opportunity to tick “skiing down an active volcano” off the bucket list! Find out more about the New Zealand ski season here.
Location: 54km (34 miles) from Turangi. Take State Highway 47 for 37km (23 miles) then turn toward Whakapapa Village on State Highway 48.
10. See Geothermal Activity in Tokaanu
For one of the best free geothermal parks in the country, visit the Tokaanu Thermal Walk. This super easy 20-minute loop walk takes you through native bush to several pools of hot springs, bubbling mud and colourful geothermal features.
Location: 6km (4 miles) from Turangi. Take State Highway 41 for 5km (3 miles) and follow the brown signs for “Hot Pools”. The Tokaanu Thermal Walk starts beside the Tokaanu Hot Pools.
11. Hike in the Famous Tongariro National Park
While we might have already talked about the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, there’s much more to explore in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Tongariro National Park. Try the Tama Lakes Track for views that rival the Tongariro Crossing or enjoy a short walk to the magnificent Taranaki Falls. Check out our 10 Tongariro National Park Must-Dos for more inspiration.
Location: Whakapapa Village, the national park base, is off State Highway 47, 47km (29 miles) from Turangi.
12. Get Off the Beaten Track in the Kaimanawa Mountains
Swap the busy hiking trails of the Tongariro National Park for the peaceful forests of the Kaimanawa Ranges. The best entrance to take from Turangi is down Kaimanawa Road where a gravel road leads to a myriad of walking trails. Enjoy breathtaking views from atop Mt Urchin or Mt Umukarikari, be in awe at The Pillars of Hercules or just embrace the bird sounds and lush greenery on one of the many forest trails. It’s also a good place to camp for the night with a few free campsites. Many of these walks also feature in our 10 Best Walks Around Lake Taupo.
Location: Kaimanawa Road, 20km (12 miles) from Turangi.