New Zealand is all the strangeness of the world, a country like no other. A trip to New Zealand won’t leave you indifferent, it will be a once in a lifetime experience.
One of the best places to discover in this country is Taupo. Located in the Northern island, Taupo takes its name from a Maori explorer who discovered Lake Taupo.
During my road trip journey from Wellington to Auckland, I had the chance to stop in Taupo for a couple of days and enjoy the city and its attractions.
I must admit that so many things make Taupo a must-see destination in New Zealand. Firstly, the town is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Secondly, there are so many things to do in Taupo. Thirdly, on your way to Taupo, you will see big mountains, luminous waters and of course, the famous Lake Taupo.
Where did I stay in Taupo?
There are few interesting accommodation choices in Taupo. However, I chose to stay in the Base Taupo hostel. Built in 2008, this structure is modern and convenient.
Base Taupo has numerous accommodation options from dorms to private rooms depending on your budget. Another advantage of Base Taupo is its location. It is located nearby numerous interesting tourist attractions.
I also highly recommend staying at Base Taupo because it has a self check-in system. Also, the hostel has a Mexican bar next door named Tejano.
It offers cheap drinks and plays good chill music. All of this is offered for a price ranging between £15 to £51.
What is the best transportation method in Taupo?
I highly advise hiring a car as it will make it easier for you to explore this area. The Average daily price of car rental in Taupo is £41 and the average petrol price £1.31.
How long does it take to explore Taupo?
Taupo is full of hidden natural gems. While there is no limit to how long you should stay in Taupo, I recommend spending 2 to 3 days exploring it properly.
Even if it’s a short time, I believe it’s enough to discover the region and its main attractions.
Top 10 things to do in Taupo
1. Whakaipo Bay
What is the first thing to do in Taupo? Well, I recommend you start with Whakaipo Bay. It is a beautiful large hidden natural gem ideal for swimming and relaxing. Furthermore, Whakaipo Bay consists of a reserve.
It was formerly a farm that became a recreation area for the local community. It is located on the borders of the lake and less than 15 minutes from Taupo Central.
Also, Whakaipo Bay is considered as an important area to promote recreation opportunities and offers breathtaking views across the lake.
2. Huka Falls
Second must-do activity in Taupo is visiting Haka Falls. Located 10 km away from Taupo, Huka Falls are an astonishing touristic site hidden in the meanders of the Waikato River.
So what makes Huka Falls so special? Well, it offers you the opportunity to witness the natural hydro power phenomenon.
What does it mean? Well, imagine that you’ll see more than 220,000 liters of water/sec barreling over an 11meter high waterfall.
Quite impressive isn’t it?! But how can you truly admire the phenomenon? All you have to do is take a seat at the foot bridge right at the top of the falls and see the fury and power of the falls.
Also, if you’re looking for more sensations, you can try a jet boat ride. As for transportation, there is a car parking lot near Huka Falls.
Also, if you prefer public transportation, there is a bus from Taupo that can take you there and is available several times a day.
3. Taupo Tandem Skydiving
In case Huka Falls’ sensations aren’t extreme enough for you and you’re looking for something more, then I recommend you try Skydiving in Taupo.
Believe me when I write that skydiving here is something else. Imagine being in the sky and seeing Lake Taupo, volcanoes, and the bay from the sky. It is a once in a lifetime experience isn’t it?!
So, where is the best place to try this activity? Well, I recommend Taupo Tandem Skydiving, the first skydiving site in New Zealand.
Over the course of 25 years, Taupo Tandem Skydiving crew has helped over 200,000 people jump into the void. The company offers four options ( 9,000 ft, 12,000 ft, 15,000 ft or 18,500 ft).
The jump lasts for up to 75 seconds. Moreover, Taupo Tandem offers the best-priced skydiving service in New Zealand. So don’t miss it out!
4. McDonald's Taupo
Ranked as one of the coolest top 10 McDonald’s in the world, Taupo’s giant fast food site is the only one in the world that includes a decommissioned DC3 plane as part of the store.
Another thing that distinguishes McDonald’s Taupo is how clean and tidy it is. It also has one of the friendliest staff ever and numerous seats inside the plane to enjoy your meal while feeling WWII vibes.
5. Full Moon View
Another must-try tourist activity in Taupo, New Zealand, is watching the full moon. This spectacle is like no other! If you want to fully grasp the beauty of this amazing scenery, I recommend you visit Taupo in summer.
Moreover, according to the Maori lunar calendar, the
summer full moon was known as Whiringa-a-Nuku. It refers to the amazing amount of growth occurring in southern hemisphere spring. So, don’t skip this activity, it is totally worth it!
6. Hatepe Espalade Reserve
Looking for a peaceful place to explore in Taupo? If yes, then I recommend heading to Hatepe Espalade Reserve. It is a nice idyllic beach with no facilities, however, you will find a walkway that will allow you to enjoy panoramic views of Lake Taupo.
Also, if you’re visiting Hatepe Espalade Reserve by car, know that you can leave it at the parking lot around the corner next to the marae tennis court.
7. Lake Rotoaira
Another important thing to do in Taupo is discovering Roroaira. This wonderful place offers breathtaking views across the lake to the volcanic plateau. The Lake also feeds the ambitious Tokaanu hydropower station.
Moreover, Roroaira was highly prized by the Māori people as an eel fishery site. Therefore, it is the perfect place for experienced fly-fishers.
However, the lake is privately owned, so you need to obtain a special license to be allowed to practice fishing there.
8. Rangipo Desert
It will be a shame to be in Taupo without visiting its Desert. Formerly known as Te Onetapy, Rangipo is located within the central volcanic plateau.
Furthermore, this place is one of a bunch of worldwide volcanic dune systems and a hostile environment formed by the rock, sand and ash ejected from volcanic activity.
Rangipo Desert is also the place that English botanist William Colenso described in 1839 as a great place for Macbeth’s witches.
9. Mount Ngauruhoe
Active for at least 2,500 years, Mt Ngauruhoe has produced more than 70 eruptive episodes since 1839. Thankfully there has been no eruption since 1975, therefore, allowing tourists to visit this mythical place.
According to the Maori legend, the high priest, Ngatoroirangi was caught in a blizzard while climbing the mountain. The priest prayed to his sisters in Hawaiki to send him fire to save him from the blizzard.
The legend says that flames sent by the sisters emerged first at Taupo before finally bursting at Mt. Ngatoroirangi’s feet.
Thus, the mountain’s volcanic activity is seen as a blessing and not as a curse. Moreover, Mount Ngauruhoe was the set for filming numerous movies including Lord of the Rings.
10. Craters of the moon
It saddens me to end this list, but what better way to do so then writing about Craters of the moon. Before 1991, this site was damaged and unsafe.
However, in 1991, a local guy named Jeremy Nash offered to protect the site. Jeremy gathered a team of volunteers and created the trust which still manages the site in partnership with the Department of Conservation.
Nowadays, Craters of the moon is a must-see place in Taupo and for very good reasons. Firstly, this original site has lava tubes to climb through and offers beautiful views.
Secondly, numerous areas there are rocky and are still fun to climb on. Thirdly, Craters of the moon has a junior ranger program for the kids too.
However, pay attention to your kids’ safety as there are few places where they can fall down.
I hope that now, after reading this article, you have a better idea about what are the best things to do in Taupo. This lovely town has numerous attractions that will entertain you.
Please let me know what you think about Taupo and which activity you like the most. I look forward to reading your comments!