13 short walks, where to go and what to see
Dog friendly, short easy strolls suitable for all fitness levels ticks the boxes for kids and mature walkers. Lake Taupo has plenty to offer visitors with free walks giving holiday makers a respite from paid tourist attractions. Lake Taupo walks embrace nature and several walks showcase efforts to regenerate bush and forest by local communities. There is a great town past cafes and street art or the well known Lions walk, a shared pathway around the lakes.
NORTHERN LAKE TAUPO WALKS
1. Whangamata Stream Trail – Kinlock
A flat easy trail and a local success story. The appealing family friendly dog on a leash shared cycle / walking trail is a 3km trail from the lake, past the historic Kinloch waterwheel and over trout spawning streams. Located at the northern end of the lake, fences and regenerating bush is now a wildlife refuge. As native plants such as flax, toetoe, and cabbage trees flourished they shaded out the weeds that often blocked the stream. Fish and other wildlife returned, and the first fernbirds in the area were recorded in the early 1990s.
- Riding the Great Lake trail – northern circuit W2K
This section offers walkers the popular W2K Track climbing up and around a bushy headland between Whangamata and Whakaipo Bays. This view-filled trail starts at the peaceful settlement of Kinloch, from where riders can ride it one way or enjoy the satisfying Headland Loop, both taking around half a day. While it is a dog friendly walk, it’s not a short easy stroll. Check the travel pack section for the Great Lakes Trail brochure for details.
SOUTHERN LAKE TAUPO WALKS
- Pukawa to Omori Walk – Turangi
Southern edge of Lake Taupo is the holiday settlement of Pukawa. Pukawa Bay has several short, easy dog friendly, family friendly walks. Wander through lush native bush along the edge of Lake Taupo. Catch glimpses of the lake and look out for bellbirds and tui in the trees above. Dog friendly
For details check Department of Conservation guidelines for .Pukawa Bay walks: Turangi area, Central North Island region
Spring flowering kowhai trees and flowers packed with nectar are a feast for tui, bellbird and kaka (birds). The kowhai flower is a seasonal food source and is a spring magical joy while walking in the bush.
The track wanders through the bush along the edge of Lake Taupō on an easy gradient. Bellbird and tūī are often seen in the trees above, and from time to time glimpses of nearby Lake Taupō. The track emerges at Omori Reserve on the edge of the lake where there is a picnic area, toilet and shingle beach. The reserve is notable for the kōwhai trees which create a splash of bright yellow when flowering. Aluminium bands have been placed around some kohuhu trees to prevent possums from climbing up to eat the palatable native mistletoe
- Length: 1.5km
- Grade: Easy / Medium (steady climb, no steps)
- Tokaanu Thermal Walk
Discover boiling mineral pools, spluttering mud pools, and trout placidly swimming under the bridge on this family friendly short walk, dog friendly next to Tokaanu Thermal Pools.
- Length: 1km
- Grade: Easy, wheelchair accessible although care is needed in parts
- ORUATUA WALKS (off SH1 north of Turangi)
At the mouth of the Tauranga-Taupō River in the small village of Oruatua, there are two easy walking tracks to enjoy the river, the native bush of the reserves and the expansive lake views.
This is a walk through regenerating bush largely managed by Hilltop School Weedbusters programme. As the walk opens out onto the lake there is a pumice strewn beach with Taupo town in the distance. It is quiet and off the beaten track. Dog friendly walk.
NOTE No toilets in the vicinity. No boat ramp.
- Length: 2km
- Grade: Easy flat walk
- Tauranga-Taupō River Walk
This track follows the placid Tauranga-Taupō River for 15 minutes till you reach the shore of Lake Taupō. The beach is a great spot for picnicking, fishing and swimming. Enjoy panoramic views of the Western Bays, Motutaiko Island, the Taupō township and Mount Tauhara. Dog friendly walk.
Getting there: The track is on the northern side of the river. Turn off SH1 after crossing the bridge. The track entrance is marked on the left at the corner. Department of Conservation brochure for Oruatua walks: Turangi area, Central North Island
- Graffiato Walking Trail
Explore side lanes and alleyways in Taupo and find glorious street art. Check out Taupo foodie experience, where to eat to combine your walk with foodie treats and snacks. Dog friendly and a great option with kids.
- Spa Park to Huka Falls
Wander along the banks of the beautiful Waikato River from the geothermal Otumuheke Stream in Spa Thermal Park to the spectacular Huka Falls. Dog friendly.
- Huka Falls to Aratiatia
Ride from Huka Falls to Aratiatia Dam along the banks of the Waikato River. Return or loop back on the other side of the river. Listen and wait for the shrill alarm of flood gates opening and witness the rapid filling of water surging its way through the narrow gorge.
While the walk is dog friendly the popular Aratiatia Dam spill lookout points can be crowded with the possibility of a stressed dog.
This is a local favourite of regular holiday makers to Taupo. The picturesque lakeside trail to Whakamoenga Point, has flat sun warmed rocks perfect for picnicking and swimming. This easy walk winds through native bush along the lake edge, offering fantastic views and great picnic, swimming and fishing spots. Dog friendly
Three car parks along the length of the track provide options for shorter or longer walks.
The final section of track continues out to Whakamoenga Point and passes through private property – keep to the track marked as public access. Return via the same track, or by using Acacia Bay Road.
- Length: 3km
- Grade: Flat easy walk
- Whakamoenga Walking Track
Time: 1 hour return via the same track
Follow Acacia Bay Road to the road end carpark.Begin on the Rangatira Point Track. An easy graded track runs through the bush beside the lake around to Whakamoenga Point. There are good views across the lake from many points along the walkway. Please do not enter private property and stay on the track.
Note: The Rangatira and Whakamoenga Point Tracks can be walked together (2.5 hours return).
- Great Lake Pathway (known as the Lions Walk)
This scenic and accessible walkway is mostly flat with plenty of stop off points for picnics, coffee and ice-cream, swims and photo opportunities. The Great Lake Walkway, or Lion’s Walk, is a 10km, Grade 1 paved ride that travels along the shoreline of Lake Taupo. The trail offers majestic views across the lake to the snow-capped peaks of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. The trail is perfectly suited to young families and more experienced riders looking for a scenic 1-2 hours of stress-free riding
TAUPO – NAPIER HIGHWAY (SH2)
- Opepe Scenic and Historic Reserve Walk
Explore rare mature podocarp forest, discover local Maori history and relics from the historic Opepe township. The walk is split by a major highway and take care crossing the road. On one side is a small cemetery for military personnel who lost their lives during the NZ Land Wars. On the other side (more interesting) is the compostable toilets and entrance to the walk. At times the walk covers the original Napier – Taupo highway, a historic milling site and relics from Opepe township. There are plaques describing flora, fauna and historic sites.
- Length: 3km
Unique journeys, personal adventures