The bucket list: Taupo's top attractions
Your guide to all things & what's on offer.
Taupo is one of New Zealand’s most legendary holiday destinations. Thanks in large part to it being built on the shores of the countries largest lake giving it the reputation for all things fun. Looking to see what’s around? Here’s our bucket list of the top Taupo attractions.
1. Admire the beauty of Lake Taupo
Let’s start with a fairly obvious one: the lake itself.
Lake Taupo is truly stunning by its own accord. Its water is idyllic – calm, sparkly, blue, and perfect for taking a refreshing dip after a long hike around the lake’s surrounding native bush and fauna.
When you arrive in the stunningly beautiful town, take the time to walk up to the lake’s edge and admire the idyllic views along the shore. Depending on what the weather’s doing and which time of day you visit, you should be able to see right across the lake to Mt Ruapehu at the Southern end.
One of our favorite activities is to go boating on Lake Taupo. You can rent a boat or jump on a tour. Just cruise or visit the wonderful Maori Carvings towards the western side of the lake. Another great option is to take a guided sail of the lake or set off on a kayaking adventure from Acacia Bay.
2. Biking the trails
Taupo is blessed for fabulous biking trails both off, and on-road. The region has some of the best mountain biking in New Zealand, with internationally recognised trails. From family friendly grade 1 or 2 trails, to grade 5 downhill trails for the more experienced rider.
The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. New Zealand’s largest mass participation cycle event which takes place in November each year. Riders negotiate a number of road and off-road courses and this is a highlight on the annual calendar.
With a number of bike hire companies across the region you can hit the trails on your own bike or hire a bike locally.
3. Head out for 18 holes
One of the most popular things to do is teeing off at one of the many local golf courses. Whether the courses are lakeside, wooded, hilly, or professionally manicured, golfing at Taupo is more than just the experience of swinging a club, it’s an outing into a beautiful landscape. All skill levels will find something to appreciate, with nearly all open to public play, and many that have been brought to life by world-famous designers.
Some of the most popular courses to play include the 27 holes at Taupo Golf Club and the World class Wairaki and Sanctuary Golf Club both located in Taupo town area. South West of Taupo town in Kinloch, World renowned, Kinloch Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus signature course is regarded as one of the New Zealand’s finest. Kinloch features challenging lakeside links setting complete with rolling fairways, long putts, challenging rough and a picturesque layout with every hole.
4. Fish the lake and rivers
In the late 1880s, rainbow and brown trout were introduced to the waters of Lake Taupo and surrounding rivers. The region has become renowned as an angler’s paradise, with Turangi now internationally recognised for trout fishing.
There’s great fishing all year round, with excellent dry fly fishing through summer, and autumn, as well as lake trolling, harling and jigging off a boat throughout the year.
There are many fishing charters or guides available to take you on a fishing adventure. Ask your guide nicely and they may even introduce you to the spots only the locals know!
5. Water & snow sports
For the sporty types there is a plethora of options all year round. During the summer and autumn months, Lake Taupo plays host to a variety of water sports including water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, parasailing, or getting out on the biscuit there is something for everyone. There are several locations around town where you can book half day or day boating experiences and enjoy all of the fantastic boating adventure sports on offer.
Just over an hours drive from Taupo township you will find Turoa and Whakapapa at Mt Ruapehu, two world class alpine ski fields. Set in the world famous Tongariro National Park, there is over 1,000 hectares of Skiable terrain to enjoy skiing, snowboarding or the view from the top of the Sky gondola during the winter and spring months.
6. Relax in geothermal hot pools
Slide into one of Taupo’s many mineral rich hot pools and relax away those aches and pains after a busy day exploring Lake Taupo region.
Taupo is one of New Zealand’s most active thermal regions, our family favourite, DeBretts enjoys a prime location at a natural ‘hot spot’ – a geothermal spring known as Onekeneke. Here, hot volcanic waters are cooled down to a far more inviting temperature range of 38 to 41°C (100.4 to 105.8°F), all the while preserving the abundance of health-enriching mineral components. With pools and slides this is a must do outing for the whole family.
In the central town area you will find AC Baths, an all-weather, family friendly pool complex that specialises in fun. The pools are not as hot but we find this is a great place to entertain the kids. Equally, if swimming for exercise is your thing, with a number of 25m swim pools, indoor and out, this is your go to spot.