1. River Side Trail, Control Gates Bridge to Spa Park (2 hours return)
Follow the Waikato River from the Control Gates Bridge, through the picturesque Riverside Reserve and into Spa Park. Cherry Island in the middle of the river makes a great photo opportunity along the way. The 3km trail is an easy gradient for walkers.
Location: Control Gates Bridge, the bridge on Tongariro Street.
2. Spa Park to Huka Falls (2 hours return)
Start from Spa Park and the famous geothermalspring of Otumeheke Stream, where you can take a dip in the hot pools and grab a coffee from the park cafe. The walking trail follows the banks of the Waikato River, with a few short hill-climbs to tackle among attractive bush scenery. The walk ends at Huka Falls, an impressive waterfall feature where the Waikato River squeezes down a narrow ravine.
Location: Spa Park, Country Avenue off Spa Road.
3. Huka Falls to Aratiatia Dam (2 hours one way)
From Huka Falls, a walking trail is signposted on the east side of the river. This continues an extra two hours climbing over clifftops to reveal more wonderful views of the river. The trail descends under the State Highway 1 bridge and through regeneratingvegetation until you reach Aratiatia Dam. Make sure you time you walk with the dam opening times at 10am, 12pm, 2pm(and 4pm in summer). See more free natural attractions with our list of13 Free or Cheap Activities in Taupo.
Location: Huka Falls, Huka Falls Road.
4. Opepe Bush Reserve Walks (30-minute-1 hour loop)
See some of the most pristine native bush remaining in the Taupo area at the fantastic Opepe Bush Reserve. The reserve has two loop walks, each taking around 30 minutes to complete. On the northern side of the road, see mature forest and an excellent example of some of New Zealand’s largest types of native trees. Information panels describe the flora seen on the trail. There is also a historic grave site where nine soldiers were buriedduring the 1869New Zealand Land Wars. On the southern side of the road, the walk and the forest is a huge contrast in a regenerating with a few impressive logging relics to be seen.
Location: Napier Taupo Road, 17km from Taupo.
5. Great Lake Walkway/Lion’s Walk (up to 3 hours one way)
Follow a paved walkway along the shores of Lake Taupo. This walkway between the Taupo Boat Harbour and just past Three Mile Bay spans 10km, easy to walk the whole way to make a shorter journey through the multiple entry points. The walk can be walked or cycled.
Location: Anywhere along the lakefront between Taupo Boat Harbour and Three Mile Bay.
6. Mt Tauhara Summit (2-3 hours return)
If you’re looking for a peak to climb in the Taupo area, make it Mt Tauhara! The walk starts in farmland before quickly delving into the forest until you reach the summit at 1,088m. The track is rough and steep in places so wear appropriate footwear. Once you reach the top, you’ll enjoy panoramic views and fun photo opportunities atop the rocky outcrops.
Location: Napier Taupo Road, 9km from Taupo.
7. Waipahihi Botanical Reserve (1-hour loop)
Walk among the attractive gardens of the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve. A 2km sealed trail loops around multiple themed gardens with blossoming rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas best seen in October and November during New Zealand’s spring.
Location: Hyde Avenue.
8. Rangatira POint Track (1h30mins return)
For a fresh perspective of Lake Taupo yet not too far from the town, try the Rangatira Point Track at Acacia Bay. This easy walk meanders through native bush and along the lakeside. Capture views across the lake toward Mt Tauhara and Taupo town.
Location: 2km past the Acacia Bay Road boat ramp, 8km from Taupo.