The 5 Best Ways To Experience Lake Taupo 

Explore New Zealand’s Lake Taupo from the air, ground and water
Explore New Zealand’s Lake Taupo from the air, ground and water | © Denizunlusu / iStock
Richard Barnes

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, Lake Taupo is a gorgeous spot to take in the country’s stunning scenery. Whether you’re rolling over the lush green hills from Rotorua along the Thermal Explorer Highway or you’re on a downhill slope from the spectacular Tongariro National Park, you’ll have gotten a glimpse of the huge lake in Taupo. Here are five different ways to experience one of the world’s greatest lakes.

Take a hike

There are many hiking trails around Lake Taupo that end with beautiful views

Tongariro National Park, Lake Taupo’s illustrious neighbour to the southwest, steals most of the hiking plaudits in the region; however, there are several lovely hiking trails dotted around Taupo itself that are well worth checking out. The most famous of these is the hike from Taupo to Huka Falls, which takes just over an hour and leads you along the banks of the Waikato River. If you fancy getting a bit more off the beaten track, however, have a go at the hike to Tieke Falls. This hike’s starting point is a car park just over the bridge from Waihaha River, along the SH-32. The trek will take between three and four hours in total, with spectacular views of the waterfall at the end.

In the air

As the North Island’s adrenaline capital, Lake Taupo has plenty of ways to experience the area from the air, as well as when you are hurtling back down towards Earth. As one of the world’s most popular skydiving locations, Lake Taupo offers dives from 2,743, 3,658 and 4,572 metres (9,000, 12,000 and 15,000 feet). At any of these heights, you are treated to coast-to-coast panoramas and stunning views of the snowy peaks of the Tongariro National Park.

For those not sure about jumping out of a plane, another option in the area is a bungee jump. It certainly doesn’t have the views offered from 2,743m (9,000ft), but it’s certainly going to get your heart pumping.

For those who want to experience Lake Taupo from the air at a more sedate pace, parasailing is a great option. With Mount Tauhara to the east and Mount Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe to the west, parasailers are surrounded by stunning scenery as they drift along, 244m (800ft) above the lake.

On the water

Renting a boat allows you to take in Lake Taupo at your own pace

The lake itself is the reason why the vast majority of people are here, and the area has numerous cruises that will take you to the spectacular Māori carvings, chiselled into the rock in the 1970s by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell. If you fancy cranking it up a notch and are in the mood to explore, then hire a boat yourself and sail around the lake. Find a deserted alcove, a hidden beach on the northern shore or another secluded part of Lake Taupo where you can sit back and take it all in.

On the road

Take a road trip to explore Lake Taupo’s hidden gems

New Zealand is a travel destination that truly optimises the statement, “It’s not about the journey; it’s about the destination.” Any road trip in New Zealand will bring you alongside some incredible scenery, and experiencing Lake Taupo by car offers you exactly that. Follow SH1 along the southern shores of Lake Taupo, and drive towards Tongariro National Park. This route will take you to a number of gorgeous hidden beaches where you can relax with a book, take a cheeky dip or throw down a picnic blanket. If you’re lucky enough to be on this road around dusk, the sunsets are truly breathtaking.

Get in the saddle

Taking the Great Lake Trail, explore the region via a bike

A perfect location for a bike ride, the famous Great Lake Trail skirts along the shores of Lake Taupo and offers riders some pretty amazing views en route. Winding around the lake, this intermediate, all-seasons path features forest and wetlands, waterfalls, beaches, a volcanic gorge and ever-changing panoramas. The full trail can be completed over two days; however, it is possible to access smaller sections of it if you have less time to spare. If you don’t have a bike in New Zealand, then head over to the Taupo information site, which will be able to put you in touch with the best places to rent one.

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