Taupo, on New Zealand’s North Island, contains countless adventures, nature, and adrenaline activities that can keep anyone busy.
Sky diving, jet boating, mountain biking, bungy jumping, and taking on the Aratiatia Rapids are just a few of the thrilling experiences on this island made for adrenaline junkies.
Taupo is also home to Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s first national park that has endless things to do.
In this gorgeous park, you will find unique natural views, clear waters, and active volcanoes.
Or, you can venture to Taupo Tandem Skydiving and Taupo Bungy, where adventurers can get a taste of ultimate thrills.
But, don’t forget the more laidback Lake Taupo, which is a sight to see and offers many attractions around it.
10 Top-Rated Things to Do in Taupo
1. Tongariro National Park
This park has everything New Zealand’ North Island offers, ranging from skiing, hiking, camping, mountain views, snowshoeing, and more.
The area also has three active volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu, and two inactive volcanoes, Mount Pihanga and Mount Kakaramea-Tihia Massif.
These volcanoes make up the three villages in the park, Whakapapa, Raurimu, and Erue. And each village offers different accommodations for travelers, including backpacking hostels (great for a tight-budget), camping locations, luxury suites, and family-friendly units.
The villages in the park also provide places to eat and drink, necessary services, and exciting activities, so you never need to leave the park.
So, everything you need is right in New Zealand’s first national park, making it one of the best things to do in Taupo.
Top 10 Things To Do In Tongariro National Park
- Ski or snowboard on Mount Ruapehu
- Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing and see Lord of the Rings’ Mount Doom
- Take a scenic flight around the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park Dual World Heritage Area
- View the remains of a volcanic explosion at Crater Lake
- Travel through ancient forests and canyons along the Whanganui River
- Ride through the Erua forest on a bike
- Cycle through the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail and 42 Traverse
- See Taranaki Falls
- Stay in a mountain hut and stargaze
- Eat and drink in restaurants and cafes with views of the volcanoes in the backdrop.
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2. Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, is the center of the Taupo region.
Amazingly, Lake Taupo sits on a volcanic plateau because, around 1,800 years ago, multiple volcanic eruptions created a collapsed volcano that Lake Taupo now occupies.
The lake is the perfect place to go camping since you can relax and watch the sunset with mountain views. Also, be sure to try kayaking so that you can explore Lake Taupo’s wonders throughout your camping experience.
Furthermore, the lake offers daily cruises that show you snow-capped mountains of the national park from afar. You will also pass attractions like the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings and learn about the volcanic history of Lake Taupo.
Or, try out Huka Falls, the main waterfall in Lake Taupo and New Zealand’s most visited natural location.
If you want to get really close to Huka Falls for the ultimate thrilling travel experience, you should take a ride on the Huka Falls Jet. This jet boat will drive you right up to the falls after taking you on an adventurous ride across the river.
Jet boating is definitely an experience you will remember, and you can also get to know a new group of people who share your sense of adventure.
However, for a more serene experience, take the Huka Falls trail and admire your surroundings from the viewing platforms.
Huka Prawn Park is close to the trail and is excellent for children and for getting a bite to eat. Huka Prawn Park also has pedal boats and a lush forest to enjoy.
Overall, traveling around Lake Taupo is incredible because you will experience many different environments such as snow-capped mountains, volcanic deserts, tall forests, and waterfalls.
If you want to be active while exploring the lake and seeing the volcanic terrain up close, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the best one-day hike in New Zealand. It is a 12-mile hike up Mount Tongariro, one of the main attractions in the park.
New Zealand offers a shuttle experience where you get picked up and dropped off at the mountain base point. Once you get to the top, the shuttle is waiting to drive you back to your accommodation.
There are other variations of hikes available on their website.
3. Waikato River
The Waikato River runs straight into Huka Falls, is the longest river in New Zealand, and is known for its blue waters. The river travels through Lake Taupo, Mount Ruapehu, and Huka Falls and also flows directly into the Tasman Sea.
Interestingly, the river holds ash from the active volcanoes it surrounds.
The river is also a source of power through hydroelectric power, which is a reason why several towns surround the Waikato River, such as Taupo, Rotorua, Cambridge, and Hamilton. Hydropower generates energy from fast-flowing rivers and is an excellent renewable energy source in New Zealand.
Altogether, you’ll find that the Waikato River offers plenty of water sports such as white water rafting, kayaking, boating, fly fishing, trout fishing, jet skiing, and riverside walks.
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4. White Water Rafting
The Tongariro River White Water Rafting Adventure is a must-do for adrenaline chasers. This adventure takes you down 60 rapids of the Tongariro River with a guide that guarantees a safe trip.
Also, the Tongariro River runs through Tongariro National Park and contains tons of fun activities and outdoor adventures.
5. Aratiatia Dam
The Aratiatia Dam produces sustainable energy for Taupo because of the high speed of water that falls through the dam gates. Overall, the dam is a sight to see because it is an architectural wonder.
6. Emerald and Blue Lakes
The Emerald Lakes and Blue Lakes are green and blue due to the geothermal activity that makes them famous attractions to explore in the park. Also, these geothermal waters produce a natural spa treatment.
The volcanic eruptions that occurred 275,000 years ago, coupled with mineral deposits and melted ice and snow, formed the Emerald Lakes and Blue Lakes.
7. Orakei Korako
One of the best geothermal wonders in Taupo is Orakei Korako, also called The Hidden Valley. The Hidden Valley is known for boiling mud pools, geothermal activity, geysers, and mineral hot springs.
Orakei Korako also has yellow silica terraces. The Te Kapua Terrace, known as “The Golden Fleece Terrace,” is 40-meters long and a sight to see, in particular.
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8. Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs
Relax in Taupo’s mineral-rich thermal pools, called the Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs. A great spot for soothing your sore muscles after days of being active, the hot pools lie on a garden of rich flowers and ferns, surrounding you with greenery.
An on-site spa offers mud wraps and other spa treatments for deeper relaxation and rejuvenation.
Additionally, the springs are child-friendly and have a children’s warm pool and water slides.
You can also find Spa Thermal Park right off Spa Road from the town center. This park is another fantastic location to relax in Taupo.
9. Wairakei Terraces
The Wairakei Terraces is a holistic spa and wellness experience with silica pools in Wairakei’s geothermal valley. Here, you can also take a guided tour of the steam field.
10. Craters of The Moon
The Craters of The Moon National Monument and Preserve is a lovely walking trail that is an easy, 45-minute loop around the monument. There are also some boardwalks that take you around this unique geothermal area.
This hike has an interesting geometrical symmetry that makes it look like the moon’s surface and also includes steam vents, white funnels of smoke that come out of the ground, and craters in the landscape.
In conclusion, Taupo, New Zealand, offers a wide array of outdoor activities. For example, you can take a jet boat to Huka Falls, visit Orakei Korako for the bubbling mud pools, explore the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings created by local Maori tribes, or enjoy a geothermal attraction.
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