How to Plan a Family Trip to Taupo
Sitting on the edge of one of the world’s largest supervolcanoes, on the banks of New Zealand’s longest river and with picture-perfect views of volcanic cones across the lake, Taupo makes for an impressive destination to take the family. Needless to say, many adventures are out on the water, whether it’s blasting down the Waikato River in a jet boat or gently cruising the lake on a sailing yacht. On land, experiences will take you to soothing hot pool complexes with kids’ water playgrounds, as well as affordable sculpture parks and honey attractions to keep the costs low.
Plan your perfect family getaway, including paid and free activities, as well as accommodation recommendations, in this complete family travel guide to Taupo.
Things to Do in Taupo with Kids
- Cruise New Zealand’s largest lake and see the Maori rock carvings
- Blast down the Waikato River on a jet boat tour…
- … Or gently float to natural hot springs on a family-friendly kayaking tour
- Let the kids loose on the slides while you relax at Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort
- Tackle the choppy rapids of the Tongariro River on a family white water rafting tour
- Marvel at the mighty Huka Falls
- Explore the sculpture park at Lava Glass
- Fish for prawns at the Huka Prawn Park
- Watch the bees in action at the Huka Honey Hive
- Venture to Tongariro National Trout Centre.
For more information on each activity, check out the 10 Things to Do in Taupo with Kids.
Family Adventure Activities
Being on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake, it’s no surprise that the top adventure activities to have as a family are on the water. Get on the “Great Lake” on one of the amazing cruises of Lake Taupo. For instance, join Chris Jolly Outdoors for a catamaran cruise with informative commentary of ecology, volcanology and cultural history of the lake on your way to the Maori Rock Carvings. Find out more about Chris Jolly Outdoors on Viator or Tripadvisor. Alternatively, set sail on Sail Barbary (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor) or Taupo Sailing Adventures (on Viator or Tripadvisor) for a relaxing wind-powered – if conditions are right – cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings.
If you’re the type of family who prefers thrills to relaxation then opt for a jet boat tour in Taupo! Your choices are Hukafalls Jet (also available on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Rapid Jets (see Viator and Tripadvisor). Hukafalls Jet will take you on a ride with 360 spins and super speed to the base of the mighty Huka Falls. On the other hand, Rapids Jet will take you to ride the rapids and even catch some air further down the Waikato River. Children need to be over 1 metre (3 feet) tall to participate.
Kayaking is one of the favourite pastimes in Taupo, but the best option for families is not on the lake but what is known as the “Waikato River Float”. Join Canoe & Kayak Taupo (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Taupo Kayaking Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor) for a family-friendly journey along part of New Zealand’s longest river. Let the gentle current of the river guide you along (and your kayaking guide, of course) as you watch people bungy jumping over the river and even stop by some natural thermal springs for a soak. The tours are typically two hours long and there are double kayaks available should you have a little one under the age of four who will need to kayak with an adult.
For more family adventures, check out 10 Things to Do in Taupo with Kids.
All-weather Family Activities
Sure, the weather isn’t always favourable in Taupo but don’t stress! You’ll still be able to entertain the whole family with some of Taupo’s exciting all-weather activities.
A good go-to any time of the year is one of the hot pool complexes in Taupo. A popular choice for families is Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort thanks to its warm water playground and waterslides. Kids love playing on the slides, spinning wheels and water mushroom, while the four-story Dragon Slide is pretty epic! There are multiple hot pool areas to enjoy a soak, as well as freshwater cooler pools where you can enjoy a family game of Marco Polo. Find out more about Taupo Debretts Spa Resort (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Another rainy day option is rafting the gentle rapids of the Tongariro River. Join Tongariro River Rafting (on Viator or Tripadvisor) or Rafting New Zealand (on Viator or Tripadvisor) who both offer special trips for families navigating the choppy grade two rapids while venturing along the crystal clear waters of the Tongariro River. Look out for rare birds along the way, like the Blue Duck (Whio) and warm up with hot drinks.
For more ideas, check out the 12 Things to Do in Taupo on a Rainy Day.
Free Family Activities
Paying for every family member does get costly, so make sure you fill up some time on your itinerary in Taupo with some of the fun free family activities.
Families can also taste New Zealand’s famous manuka honey at the Huka Honey Hive, featuring interactive displays to see the honey bees in action! There’s a cafe there too, should you need an excuse to relax.
As for the most popular natural attraction in New Zealand, Huka Falls is a must-do! Easily accessed from the car park along Huka Falls Road, Huka Falls has a bridge and a short walk to several viewing areas to marvel at the tumultuous rapids as the Waikato River squeezed through a narrow canyon.
For more affordable activities, check out the 12 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Taupo.