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Travel Guide

Things to Do in Taupo & Turangi – Attractions, Activities, & Adventures

  • 7 minutes

North Island, New Zealand

In this Article

Find out what makes LAKE TAUPO & TURANGI special. Visitors are beguiled by a volcanic geothermal sights in a landscape stretched across the Central Plateau of the North Island.

  • Taupo highlights – adventures on the water, by the water and near the water.
  • Love Lake Taupo – an amazing playground offering plenty to do and see for all age groups.
  • Discover what nature has created – be intrigued by the bubbling cauldron of hot steaming water in contrast to deep immense crater lakes.
  • Love Taupo for its scenic beauty – inky blue bodies of water fringed by lush native bush
  • Turangi charms – nearby classic hot pools, Tongariro River fly fishing, walks, trails.
#LoveTaupo, what are you waiting for…

In this Article

Taupo 10 ultimate things to do

The glorious scenery has a stunning backdrop of the three snow-tipped peaks of Tongariro National Park. It is the stuff of holiday dreams with the picturesque landscape encouraging water sports, adventures from jet boating, rafting and kayaking or walking tours soaking up the views.

The sheer variety of what nature has to offer is exhilarating. Visitors can dip their toes into warm water seeping from lakeside streams and walk among mineralised landscapes where scalding water paints the world a vivid orange. Adventure beckons on the lake from kayaking to water parasailing.

Huka Falls on the Waikato River near Taupo North, NZ
Huka Falls on the Waikato River near Taupo North, NZ
  1. Huka Falls, Lake Taupo

Huka Falls is a classic New Zealand overseas visitor experience. And Huka falls will not disappoint. The enormous power of millions of litres of water forced through a rock canyon creates a powerful relentless water flow capturing the senses. The sheer strength of the water flow captivates viewers. If you feel like holding tighter to the child’s hand while watching it’s likely you are not the only parent. Kids get to see nature in its splendid white watery self.




Huka Falls and Lake Taupo are the beginning of New Zealand’s mighty Waikato. The powerful river waters originate from where the kids are standing right now.

Huka Fall jet boat cruise

It is great for families as you have safe open air viewing decks and platforms to take a selfie of yourself backdropped by the spray from the Huka Falls.



FREE – Huka falls are free, no admission charges.





Aratiatia rapids dam slipway opening – Waterfalls fans rejoice, a free adventure.

Enjoy a touch of drama, then you are in the right place. Anticipation builds as the dam spill is heralded by the shrill piercing shout of the public siren. The dam spill gate opening is happening. The release of millions of litres of water is dramatic due to the sudden rise in river water level.

Tourist adventure in Huka Falls with Huka falls river cruise in Taupo, New Zealand
Tourist adventure in Huka Falls with Huka falls river cruise in Taupo, New Zealand
Bungy jump in Taupo New Zealand
Bungy jump in Taupo New Zealand
  1. Bungy Jump, Yell, scream in joy as you bungy jump over the Waikato River

AJ Hackett Taupo Bungy Jump 

  • Make your visit to New Zealand even more memorable and join this bungy jumping and swing activity in Taupo
  • Jump off a cliff and see the Waikato River’s water coming up to meet you
  • Swing as fast as 70km/h and scream at the top of your lungs in the Cliffhanger
  • Grab your BFF and jump together



  1. Maori Rock carvings

Lake Taupo, catch a good look at the Maori rock carvings as they rise magnificently out of the water. Maori Rock Carvings, a magnificent artistic statement is only accessible by water. The towering carvings near Mine Bay were carefully crafted by master artisan Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell in the 1970’s. The artist portrays the story of Polynesian navigator Ngatoro-i-rangi who guided the Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupo district hundreds of years ago… read more Maori Rock Carvings getting and things to do.



Maori Rock carvings, Taupo, New Zealand
Maori Rock carvings, Taupo
New Zealand, view to Maori cave art with two tourists in kayak in front
New Zealand, view to Maori cave art with two tourists in kayak
  1. Kayak Lake Taupo

Grab your chance to kayak New Zealand’s largest freshwater lake and the Waikato River outlet.

  • Beaches strewn with pumice from an ancient eruption
  • Delta estuaries where wild black swans serenely share the waterways with you
  • Kayaking to the Maori rock carving is a very special way to view the massive outdoor art up close. With guides you can spend time in natural hot pools or perhaps guide your kayak under massaging waterfalls. The only sound is the oars being dipped in the water.



  1. Walks, hikes and trails  – #lovetaupo outdoors

Taupo family friendly walks

LOVE TAUPO, the ultimate family friendly outdoor place with plenty of walks suitable for small legs. There are dog friendly, short easy strolls suitable for all fitness levels ticking the boxes for kids and mature walkers. 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… read more Lake Taupo short family friendly, dog friendly walks – Best Bits.



Love Taupo sign on the shore of Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Love Taupo sign on the shore of Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Lake Rotopounamu Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Lake Rotopounamu Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Mount Tauhara hiking trail

Lake Taupo, Central Plateau North Island excels at outdoors activities and has amazing hiking trails. For one of the prime viewpoints of Lake Taupo, experienced hikers will relish the challenge of the steep trek up Mt. Tauhara. Pack foodie treats, water and sunscreen and enjoy the panoramic views of the Taupo lakeshore and the surrounding mountains of the Central Plateau.

Walks nearby Taupo – Lake Rotopounamu  & Turangi village

Walk Around Lake Rotopounamu. The name translates as Lake Greenstone, very apt for the deep crystal clear emerald lake waters. There are picnic tables and toilets for a day out and about absorbing the bird song. Location: SH47 The car park is opposite the signposted entrance. Take care crossing the road… READ MORE 10 best things to see in Turangi: must-visit attractions.



Turangi is a hop, skip and jump from the ultimate New Zealand day walk, Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Catch a shuttle (74 km) to the Tongariro Crossing. (Note from Taupo it’s a very early morning start, approximately 5.00 am). The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an incredible 19km trek through the diverse landscapes of the Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO Dual World Heritage Park. It is a full day of hiking through extraordinary terrain. Check shuttle details with the local experts Tongariro Crossing Shuttle From Taupo.



Tongariro, Turangi, , New Zealand
Tongariro, Turangi, New Zealand

Recommended for Tongariro Trail bucket list is a stay in either Turangi or Whakapapapa Village, Tongairio National Park for ease of access to the Tongairo Trail.

Craters of the moon in Taupo, New Zealand
Craters of the moon in Taupo, New Zealand
  1. Taupo pumps up the heat –  hot pools & volcanic zone action

Craters of the Moon – Taupo things to do

Craters of the Moon lunar landscape is extraordinary, an otherworldly experience. Volcanic activity, the power of earth’s energy is very evident at lunar Craters of the Moon. Stunted vegetation, silica licked earth and boiling mud make for a great place to take kids. Their imagination is captivated by the sheer stark contrast between the Crater landscape and the lush NZ bush… read more Craters of the Moon – Best Bits.



Orakei Korako

Orakei Korako steaming vents, boiling mud, a geothermal wonderland. Can’t get enough of geothermal marvels, the boiling mud pools, the geyser fountains and enjoy a day exploring one of Taupo’s lesser known natural thermal attractions. Orakei Korako  is home to the most active geysers and is a highlight of Rotorua to Taupo: Geothermal Scenic Highway. The day trip from either Taupo or Rotorua is highly recommended. There are up to twenty geysers on display. The boiling streams of water coat the slopes with vibrant silica. The area is home to large geothermal caves, native bush with bird song and a picturesque lake with steaming hot vents.



Orakei Korako lake, New Zealand
Orakei Korako lake, New Zealand

The lake is dotted with steaming quiet streams where a natural foot massage is just the perfect way to relax… READ MORE Orakei Korako.

Tokaanu thermal hot pools, Turangi, New Zealand
Tokaanu thermal hot pools, Turangi, New Zealand

Tokaanu hot pools

The Tokaanu Thermal Pools are family friendly, unpretentious with the bonus of a short walk through the adjacent Tokaanu thermal area with its boiling mud pools, steam vents and wirey vegetation.

Hot pool devotees check out 7 Hot Mineral Pools in the North Island – Best Bits with the North Islaand, New Zealand usually has a hot pool nearby to relax and revive the holiday spirt.

And New Zealand visitors and locals alike in search of hot pools the  #nzmustgo DESTINATION is Rotorua, a premier visitor destination. Check out Rotorua hot water pools & thermal waters, where to go – Best Bits.

Rotorua to Taupo: Geothermal Scenic Highway – Best Bits is a road trip specialising in hot pools and geothermal wonders.


Taupo to Rotorua distance is a mere 80 km or less than one hour driving distance. Unless you are stopping at a hot pool (or two).

  1. Adventure, #lovetaupo beckons

Taupo is where nature sets the backdrop for awesome adventures. Got the bungy jump T shirt, great stuff happening. Next on the ultimate list is SKYDIVING ZONE.

  • Paraglide over the lake
  • Mountain biking in a dedicated park
  • Taupo tandem skydiving
  • Jet boating & rafting
  • Rope and climbing parks

Whether rain or shine you need to get things for kids to do on holiday. Parents and family members can relax and get into the vibe of getting lost in a giant maze or petting farm animals. Taupo excels at theme and leisure parks where the hard work of inspiring kids to have a good time is sorted. Taupo’s bungy jump is still going strong after 30 years of operation. And the option of being filmed is too good to miss.



Tandem skydiving over Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Tandem skydiving over Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Fly fishing Tongariro River, Turangi, New Zealand
Fly fishing Tongariro River, Turangi, New Zealand
  1. Fly fishing Lake Taupo

The Tongariro River is a popular fishing river.. Rainbow and brown trout have their spawning pools in the Tongariro River’s natural shallow pools and swimming holes. The trout runs typically occur in winter during wet weather. Because of this, anglers can pull in a good haul between April and November (NZ winter with rain creating ideal fishing conditions). Be prepared to get wet.

Fishing charters operate from Turangi, Taupo and lakeside settlements. Visitors can often arrange for their freshly caught trout to be gently smoked over manukau ashs or be prepared by chefs at their accommodation. A popular choice for many visitors is to simply BBQ and tuck in. Licences, fishing gear, equipment and guiding to where the fish are running can also be arranged by local tour specialists. Taupo Troutcatcher has been operating for several decades with a wealth of experience introducing novices to the intriguing sport of fishing. Charter an entire boat for the family and give it go.

Lake Taupo spring cycle challenge

Adventure buffs, polish the mountain bike, swim the lake to get yourself fit for one of New Zealand’s premier sporting events. The 160 km sees thousands of people peddling around the lake late November.

  1. Taupo – New Zealand’s Great Rides Waikato River Trail

If your holiday is not complete unless you are on a bike then the Waikato River Trail should be on your bucket list. Considered one of New Zealand’s Great Rides, the 100 km odyssey is a multiple day taking between 3 – 5 days to complete. The Waikato River Trail  follows New Zealand’s longest river on suspension bridges, rolling farmland and stunning bush and forest reserves.

The trail is divided into five sections, starting from Lake Tarapiro near Hamilton and ending at Atiamuri Bridge between Taupo and Tokoroa. For an alternative closer to town, check out the Great Lake Trail – a 71 km  journey that traverses a series of remote lakeside areas.



Waikato river trails bike sculpture quietly aging among autumn leaves, Mightly River Domain, Waikato, New Zealand
Waikato river trails bike sculpture quietly aging among autumn leaves, Mightly River Domain, Waikato, New Zealand
Lava Glass, Taupo, New Zealand
Lava Glass, Taupo, New Zealand
  1. Eat, drink and indulge in Taupo’s cafes and restaurants

Indulge in a leisurely cafe brunch at Lava Glass

Check out Lava Glass and spend time enjoying the sculpture glass walk, for details check out Where To Eat in Taupo for Acacia Bay’s Lava Glass cafe. Relax in comfortable sofa chairs, browse through the well thought out menu, suitable for families and enjoy being surrounded by beautiful glass objects.



Where to hang out at Lake Taupo

2 mile bay sailing & watersport centre

Mellow, laid back vibe is a great setting for kayak hires, windsurfing boards, canoes, sailboats and catamarans. The lakeside coffee bar and cafe is a favourite for whiling away the day people watching and enjoying the scene of visitors coming and going. There is pizza on the go and the local music jam sessions are a hit with visitors.

Location: 2 MILE Bay is approximately 5 – 10 minutes drive from the centre of Taupo.


Shopping, markets in Taupo

Taupo weekend market is a hit with visitors with its pop up stalls, fresh produce and local artists marketing their wares. Rain or shine. Friday night Taupo hosts a night market specialising in delicious takeout food.


Market Central Taupo – The largest Taupo market operates in Northcroft Reserve. The comprehensive market has artisan goods, numerous foodie caravans and live music.

Retail therapy is a sure fire hit in Taupo with boutique stores lining the pedestrian friendly wide pavements with cafes to ensure your energy levels are not flagging. As one of the premier adventure destinations of New Zealand it doesn’t matter if you forgot the swimming geer there are plenty of outdoor and sporting goods stores to supply every sporting need, as well as helpful locals to point the way to the best fishing spot, where to obtain a license and guides.

Homewares are a specialty, and even local cafes have a corner dedicated to pretty items for the house.

Check out our top delis for hints where to go for the perfect gift for family, friends or to spoil yourself.

Festivals in Taupo

The town is hospitality central and the slogan ‘I love Taupo’ hints at events as a key ingredient in the visitor experience

Graffiato street art festival

Celebrate street art in Taupo and watch artists create new dazzling outdoor massive art over three days (October). Graffiato is forever a portfolio in the making with over 80 murals and growing. Always look behind you, in front of you and sideways to locate surprising hidden art.

Check travel pack section for map.


Museums, culture and heritage

Taupo gateway to the Lake on a clear morning dawn, New Zealand
Taupo gateway to the Lake on a clear morning dawn, New Zealand

Where to take a great photo or a perfect selfie location in Taupo?

Taupo spoils the visitor with over 44 locations for a great photo spot. Take a selfie against Taupo’s graffiti street art trail and 43 more locations, check out 38 places for a great selfie shot in Taupo,

Where is Taupo?

Getting there

Taupo is served by the state highway one road network as well as a domestic airport.

Weather in Taupo

Taupo, Taupō Weather Forecast and Observations.

In Taupo, the summers are a burst of glorious warm weather, the humidity is very low creating a comfortable environment. The winters are brisk, cold and often wet. It can be cloudy year round. The temperature range is from 3°C (winter mornings) to 24°C and is rarely below -2°C or above 27°C.


Lake Taupo Shore Sunrise, NZ
Lake Taupo Shore Sunrise, NZ

The best time to visit Taupo & Turangi is:

  • For summer water sports January to early March is the best time to go
  • Year round, geothermal hot pools ensure you will feel toasty warm. Layer up in winter for brisk, crisp days with a frosty greeting early morning.
  • Off season Taupo / Turangi is quietly inviting with the lake glittering in the bright winter light. The motels are not full and you are guaranteed the best views of the Huka Falls. The nearby ski fields of the Central Plateau Ruapehu are a magnet for winter sports (between late July to September).



Where else will you get the chance to ski on an active volcano?

Whakapapa is the North Island’s only ski field. Mount Ruapehu, and active volcano in the central North Island, is one of its top terrains. Needless to say, it’s not very often that you get to say you’ve skied on a site known for its volcanic activity. And no, there’s no risk of getting caught in the midst of an eruption – but given New Zealand is the land of adventures, this will definitely add a bit of bravado to your visit.

Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand
Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand
Wairakei Terraces, New Zealand
Wairakei Terraces, New Zealand

And a bit of quirkiness thrown in between kayaking Lake Taupo

Geothermal energy & steel pipes

Industrial functional pipes have never looked so good when misting,billowing steam swirls around the steel snaking pipes. The power of geothermal energy is very visible. Go for a drive to the viewing platform. There is an information plaque at the viewing platform providing plenty of facts for the scientist in all of us.


Wairakei Geothermal Field is New Zealand’s oldest and largest (by electrical generation). The field covers between 20 and 25Km2 and lies 8 km north of Taupo along State Highway 1.

Taupo hot spring pools – where to go?

Otumuheke Stream hot pools are located in the Spa Thermal Park and are free. Otumuheke stream is glorious with natural rock pools and even a warm waterfall… read more

Can’t get enough of geothermal marvels, the boiling mud pools, the geyser fountains then Orakei Korako is on your bucket list… read more.



Taupo geothermal park, NZ
Taupo geothermal park, NZ

Orakei Korako allows dogs to view the geothermal activity.


  • Taupo DeBretts, hot springs

Ahhh… the bliss of sliding into the warmth of natural mineral pools. Visitors are spoiled for choices from impromptu natural locations to luxury pampering at Taupo DeBretts Thermal Pools.

Opepe abandoned logs, New Zealand
Opepe abandoned logs, New Zealand

What is there to do nearby Taupo?

Nearby Taupo on State Highway  2 is a poignant reminder of the 19th century NZ Land Wars with its graves of Bay of Plenty Calvary. The superb Maori strategist Te Kooti led a successful surprise attack in defence of his rights… once the quiet forest was a clearing with a hotel, store and houses, now disappeared and the bush is taking over.

For rugby fans, schoolchildren who have practiced the haka dance at school or visitors who have listened or witnessed the collective power of a challenge and response the Ka Mate story starts in Taupo.

doubt and the site of the last major battle of the NZ Land Wars. Conflict over land ownership, sovereignity and interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi resulted in a series of battles.

  • Turangi – Southern shore of Lake Taupo

Outdoors with the Tongariro River Trail, Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the magic of Tokaanu hot pools encourage visitors to explore beyond Taupo.

Turangi River Walk swing bridge, New Zealand
Turangi River Walk swing bridge, New Zealand

Taupo family friendly things to do

NZ owl - a ruru or morepork staring intently. Isolated with black background. , New Zealand
NZ owl - a ruru or morepork
  • Did you know that Taupo is a great place to find out more about New Zealand’s wildlife. Meet the local feathered inhabitants, the New Zealand birds of prey, the Morepork. NZ’s Watch the owl graciously receive visitors and hear about a story to rehabilitate the owl …
  • Get the kids outside and enjoy the numerous short walks in the area.
  • Scroll through National Trout Centre’s things to do and what’s happening nearby on the Tongariro River trail where enormous trout lurk in the streams
  • Kids got a sweet tooth? Then Huka Honey Hive will be popular. Everyone is introduced to the art of beekeeping and honey flavoured ice creams.
  • Dog lovers can meet furry, friendly locals the Siberian Husky at Dog Sledding New Zealand | Timberline Racing Huskies are sure fire success for kids who are fascinated with all things canine.

Taupo romance, things to do for couples

Romance and your budget can ruin the best plans. Taupo is a solution with plenty to do and see that does not break the bank and the heartstrings. There are cafes where you can choose together a special memento or fun street art for a funny quirky selfie pose together… read more Taupo romance, things for couples to do – Best Bits.




Dusk at Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Dusk at Lake Taupo
Tokaanu Wharf, Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Tokaanu Wharf, Lake Taupo

Taupo – things to do at night

Nightlife in Taupo is buzzing with visitors adding to the holiday atmosphere. Definitely Taupo gets into the party mode during the busy summer months. Taupo’s main street is where the action happens with bars, pubs and cafes open to the small hours.

For couples and friends looking to relax and enjoy the evening consider:

  • Unwind in a natural hot spring under the stars
  • Think about an evening cruise on the lake
  • Join a kayaking group and enjoy the sunset as Lake Taupo glimmers under the light of the moon
  • At the many cafes and restaurants, forward bookings wil be needed to avoid disappointment

Where to eat and drink

Foodie experiences in Taupo

Relish, savour and enjoy Taupo’s food scene. The experienced cafe and restaurants offer visitors a quirky main street brewery venue or a sweet surprise at a honey hive. Pop into the deli’s for the ingredients for your impromptu beach picnic. In a hurry to get to the next attraction, Taupo is a dab hand at understanding you have places to be. Remember to check out the lakeside pizza joint as the place has spectacular views together is a perfect flat white coffee.

Read more Where To Eat in Taupo – Best Bits.



Waikato River rapids at Aratiatia, Taupo, New Zealand
Waikato River rapids at Aratiatia, Taupo, New Zealand

Taupo things to do for free

Taupo is defined by its glorious lake, walks and scenery. Nature does not invoice visitors for its lakeside walks and historic reserves. The iconic Huka Falls is free as it plunges into Otumuheke Stream where hot water creates a natural spa. The Waikato River walks, the beaches and neary Tokaanu give visitors a plethora of opportunities to enjoy a holiday where the best things are free.

Read more about Taupo things to do for free.

Camping Lake Taupo – where to stay

For many New Zealanders Taupo offers a chance to experience camping in some of the most picturesque locations in the North Island.

Camping is a classic summer holiday experience. The freshwater lakes, opportunities to catch trout for the BBQ, the chance to check out the bright lights of Taupo or take a quiet stroll along the Tongariro River are joys that build memories. For overseas visitors you will meet and greet locals as they form temporary camping fraternities. Go camping and meet some locals.

Read more 7 Taupo places to go camping, travel guide, things to do: Best Bits.


Travel pack information

  • In peak summer season it is strongly advised to plan your trip to Taupo by booking well in advance. While the town has sometimes the hectic gaiety of a tourist town it is very easy to slip into the natural spaces of the Taupo region and truly get in touch with what brings visitors to Taupo.
  • Peak season is summer december to mid-march. Off season Taupo / Turangi is quietly inviting with the lake glittering in the bright winter light. The motels are not full and you are guaranteed the best views of the Huka Falls.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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