Top Hikes in the Taupo Region
Putting one foot in front of the other excessively is something well worth doing in the North Island region of Lake Taupo! Home to the largest lake in New Zealand and right next door to the world heritage site of the Tongariro National Park, Lake Taupo has plenty of walks and hikes to keep you challenged and entertained.
The township of Taupo is a great base for all your hiking activities in the region, whether you need a place to stay or a shuttle to the walking tracks. Take a look at our list below to find the perfect tracks for you.
1. Spa Park to Huka Falls
Walk along the Waikato River starting in Spa Park, which has a natural thermal spring to relax in, and ends at the mighty Huka Falls. You’ll enjoy a relaxed river walk in between. Find out more about the walk on the Department of Conservation (DOC) website.
To extend this walk for another 4 hours, continue along the river on the Aratiatia Rapids Walk. Make sure you get to the dam for10am, 12pm, 2pm (and 4pm in summer).
Location: Between Spa Park in Taupo and Huka Falls. Then Huka Falls to Aratiatia Dam.
Time: 2 hours return. Or 6 hours return for Aratiatia Dam.
2. Kinloch to Kawakawa Bay
Starting at the western end of Kinloch Beach, climb to the cliffs overlooking the lake. Then the track drops down to Kawakawa Bay. Find out more on the DOC website.
Location: Between Kinloch Beach and Kawakawa Bay.
Time: 4 hours return.
3. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
If you haven’t heard of this hike then where have you been?! The most popular day-hike in New Zealand is a must-do when in the Lake Taupo region. Hike 19.4km (12 miles) on active volcanoes and get up close to Mt Doom from The Lord of the Rings. The weather is very changeable in this environment so be prepared. Check in with weather forecast and shuttle information at your accommodation or i-SITE. For a full guide to the Tongariro Crossing, see here.
Location: Between Highway 46 and Mangatepopo Road in the Tongariro National Park.
Time: 7 hours one way (arrange transportation at the end).
4. Opepe Historic Bush Walk
Both easy loop-walks in Opepe are historic, as the northern loop goes through last remaining virgin forest in the Lake Taupo region and the southern loop shows the relics of the old Opepe sawmill and watering trough. Learn more on the DOC website.
Location: Opepe, along State Highway 5.
Time: 1.5 hours for both loops tracks.
5. Tongariro River Trail
This pleasant loop walk takes you high along the river banks and along private farmland. You can make a stop at the Tongariro National Trout Centre museum to see a freshwater aquarium and blue duck enclosure. Check out the details of this walk on the DOC website.
Location: Turangi, along State Highway 1.
Time: 1-hour loop or 3-hour loop.
6. Mt Urchin
For a mountainous hike away from the crowds try the Mt Urchin track. Explore a mix of forest and alpine environment with incredible views of the Central North Island volcanoes and the Kaimanawa Mountain Ranges. You will climb to the Urchin Trig (1,392m/4,567ft) in the Kaimanawa Forest Park. Remember to be prepared for any conditions.
Location: Kaimanawa Road, south of Turangi. Note that the Kaimanawa Road is a gravel road – follow the DOC signs for the “Urchin Track”.
Time: 4 hours return.
7. Waihora Lagoon Walking Track
The highlight of this easy stroll in the picturesque reflective lagoon. Follow a boardwalk that snakes its way through the forest to a viewing platform. [Update: The gravel road to the Waihora Lagoon is in disrepair and is only recommended for 4WD vehicles]. Find out more about the walk on the DOC website.
Location: Gravel road signposted off State Highway 32 in the Pureora Forest, western side of Lake Taupo.
Time: 20 minutes.
8. Lake Rotopounamu
Walk to a beautiful beach area along Lake Rotopounamu, which is perfect for swimming in. You’re likely to see heaps of native birds too in this conservation area. The walk is an easy walk with an uphill section at the start.
Location: Lake Rotopounamu along State Highway 47 between Turangi and the Tongariro National Park.
Time: 2-hour loop.
9. Great Lake Walkway – The Lions Walk
An easy stroll to take when you are looking for something to do within the Taupo township, the Great Lake Walkway takes you along the lakefront to Five Mile Bay.
Location: Between Lake Taupo Yacht Club and Five Mile Bay, Taupo.
Time: Up to 3 hours.
10. Waipahihi Botanical Reserve
If you like a romantic stroll amongst the pretty flower then the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve is the walk for you! There are numerous walks in these gardens rich with birdlife. The reserve is open daily until dusk.
Location: Just south of Taupo along State Highway 1.
Time: 1.5 hours.