Taupo day trip South
Enjoy a day exploring Taupo and beyond; the southern reaches of Lake Taupo. Discover quiet places on state highway 47 with its stupendous views of Tongariro National Park’s mountains and the central North Island volcanic plateau. Turangi is a quiet surprise for visitors with plenty of things to do from a classic hot pool experience, exploring Tongariro River Trail to a quirky visitor centre that literally shakes and quakes. Lake Rotoaira has a place in history where the haka challenge was issued and Lake Otomangakau is a fly fishing top spot for dedicated anglers.
Start the day in Turangi. Turangi is an excellent place to stay for its range of budget accommodation while exploring Lake Taupo and beyond. And for outdoor enthusiasts perfect.
Turangi on the southern shores of Lake Taupo and state highway 47 leads to Tongariro National Park and the ski fields of Ruapheau.
Turangi is ideal location for
- Rafting the Tongariro River
- Exploring the Tongariro River trails shared bike walking trail
- Ride the Tree Trunk Gorge & discover Pillars of Heracles
- Walk around Lake Rotopounamu
- Soak in Tokaanu hot pools, a classic family style pools
- Tokaanu has a glorious weathered jetty perfect for photographs, selfies
Continue on south along Lake Taupo. Explore Tokaanu hot pools, walk along Lake Taupo’s southern shoreline and spead time finding out the story of Lake Rotoraira and Lake Otomangakau.
Lake Rotoaira is now a quiet backwater with little to show for its sometimes turbulent past. The lookout offers panoramic views across the lake to the mountain ranges of the volcanic plateau.
Haka origins at Opotaka Pa
Look for information signs pointing out Opotaka historic pa (fortified Maori village) site with a description of how Chief Te Rauparaha fleeing his enemies hid in an underground kumera pit (with the local chief’s wife perched overhead).
Lake Otomangakau fly fishing bonanza
Sterling views of the North Island, NZ highest mountain peaks and a shallow lake known for its bounty of very large trout. The shallow waters are home to lake vegetation beloved by feeding trout. Both rainbow and brown trout inhabit the lake. Fishing season: 1 September to 31 May (closed throughout February due to heat stressed trout).
So does its neighbouring lake, Otamangakau. It’s worth driving down to this little lake to admire Otamangakau’s tranquil waters and mountain panoramas, but those with a sense of adventure should consider stand up paddle boarding. Reputedly the highest-altitude SUP trip in the Southern Hemisphere, this is a very special experience that offers a unique perspective on Tongariro National Park.
Lake Otamangakau is a shallow hydro-lake formed in 1971, seated near the iconic volcanic range of the Tongariro National Park, just south of Turangi. The volcanic ranges and snow-capped peaks of Mount Tongariro and Mount Ruapehu seem so close you can reach out and touch them from your boat.
Because the lake is so shallow and with two boat access ramps, it makes it a premium spot to fish from a small pontoon boat, jigging or casting your fly in the most remote weed beds and banks. It’s recommended to stay away from wading as the muddy holes and silt can sneak up on you.
For more holiday inspiration scroll through Taupo Travel Guide and start planning your next holiday.
Travel pack information
Lake Otamangakau is small
Despite its minuscule size, it’s the second most heavily fished lake in the district next to Lake Taupo. It’s is also extremely shallow, with the exception of the main basin, just off the main boat ramp where it reaches depths of up to 15m, you can see the bottom in most locations. It is also very weedy, the dense forests of oxygen weed beds providing an enormous food supply for trout, whom gorge heavily on predominantly Snails, Damsel Nymphs and Bloodworms. There is also an occasional eel and lots of rarely seen Goldfish, but no smelt present. Lake Otamangakau in my mind is right up there with some some of the most magnificent scenery the North Island has to offer.
Nestled at the foot of the North Island’s iconic volcanic plateau, on a calm day (which is most days surprisingly given its elevation of 600m above sea level!) the volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe are so close, they seem within arm’s reach. Lake O is truly a beautiful spot, barren, windswept, freezing cold and piping hot. It also houses some of the most prolific bird populations and number of species I have ever seen!
If you want the security of a paid campsite, not 10 minutes down the road are both “Cross Roads” park-over-property camp, which is a budget, no-frills campsite, or the Tongariro Holiday Park, where all the luxuries of TV, power and hot showers can be found.
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