Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Nature & Wildlife

Taupo things to do for free

  • 5 minutes

North Island, New Zealand

Families, couples or solo Taupo has plenty of free attractions

Uncover holiday experiences where cost is not part of the experience. The best bits in life are free with Taupo offering visitors a chance to unearth historic sites, street art and public sculptures. Outdoors scenic Lake Taupo is a potpourri of experiences from natural warm mineral streams, breathtaking displays of water power at Huka falls and places to picnic, cycle and walk around the lake.

Taupo drainage trout sculpture, North Island, New Zealand
Taupo drainage trout sculpture



Taupo has a wealth of street art and public installations and sculptures for visitors to wander throughout the town absorbing the messages the artist is conveying. Visit the waterfront at dawn to take in the gates framing Lake Taupo, find the Cloak of Tia, made up of over 4,000 individually handcrafted glass pieces by artist Lynden of Lava Glass Studio or enjoy the vibrant popping colour of the Tiki installation by Albert McCarthy. For inspiration check out Taupo Sculpture Trust.


Enjoy the 1960’s caravan with the feel that the occupants have just stepped out for a coffee. It is whimsical and makes you think about modern appliances. The magnificent Maori meeting house and the collection of artefacts dating back hundreds of years is a visual reminder of the history of Taupo. While the museum is only free to children, Taupō residents and ratepayers, it is a nominal amount and well worthwhile.

@Taupo Museum
@Taupo Museum

Look for the 15 metre waka canoe, carved from the trunk of a single, native totara tree. Estimated to be able to carry over a 100 warriors.

NZ Land Wars heritage sites, Te Porere, the earthworks of the lower redoubt, Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
NZ Land Wars heritage sites


  • OPOTAKA VILLAGE was located at Lake Rotoaira and its strategic position was evident with swamp on three sides and a lake as its main entrance. Retrieved artefacts include 1820’s traditional obsidian and stone adzes and metal tools. This is the location for Ngati Toa Chief Te Rauparaha famous chant Ka Mata Haka.
  • OPEPE RESERVE with its village now disappearing into regenerating forest and the quiet cemetery a reminder of the human cost of the NZ Land Wars where Maori sovereignty became a defining issue of the conflict.


Huka Falls

With 220,000 litres of water per second surging through the rock gorge you are memorized by the relentless continual flow of water. The sheer power of water is exhilarating and a bit mind numbing. Nature’s display is free.

Huka Falls, Taupo, New Zealand
Huka Falls
Aratiatia Dam sluice gates opened, New Zealand
Aratiatia Dam sluice gates opened

Aratiatia Rapids

Aratiatia Rapids is fun, the siren heralding the release of water heightens the drama of the moment. Before the release from the dam the river is a rock strewn slow moving creek. Then thousands of litres of water are released from the Aratiatia Dam creating an arresting display of surging water rapidly climbing over rocks. Definitely.


Pack a picnic, water bottles and sunscreen and find a quiet place to relax by the water. Beaches from Kinlock beach, Fish beach, Moutere beach and Hot Water beach among others. The lake is so immense that it has the appearance of the sea with waves, beaches and reach of water to the sky. The beaches are littered with pumice from the volcanic eruptions and are not white sandy places. They are places of driftwood, perhaps bubbling warm water and interesting birdlife.

Taupo gateway to the Lake on a clear morning dawn, New Zealand
Taupo gateway to the Lake on a clear morning dawn
Waikato river trail, near Mighty River Domain, Waikato, New Zealand
Waikato river trail, near Mighty River Domain

Great Lake Pathway

An urban shared walking and cycling trail wrapped around a beautiful lake. The Great Lake Pathway is 10 km of paved trails from Taupo Harbour to Five Mile Bay. What a perfect way to spend the day outdoors.

For more ideas about getting outdoors check out Taupo Outdoors – Natural Places – Best Bits.

Great Lake Trail & Waikato River Trails

Cycle past hydroelectric dams, lake lookout points, perhaps indulge in time fly fishing with a local guide the Great Lake Trail threads its way around the massive Lake Taupo. The intermediate all season trail has native bush, wetlands, waterfalls and beaches to view.

Be inspired and watch Great Lake Trail

Spa Thermal Park

Soak in natural hot springs at Otumuheke Stream with the option of continuing to walk the Waikato River for another glimpse of Huka Falls.

Tokaanu Thermal Walk

Nestled behind the Tokaanu Hot Pools complex is a short 1 km easy walk. There are mud pools, boiling water and stunted vegetation surviving in the arid surroundings. The walk is free and perhaps you have checked out the local hot pools. They are very reasonably priced.

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

Look in the stream for trout lazily passing by.

Read more about walks in Turangi and Tokaanu Turangi Walking Tracks And Trails – Best Bits.

Tokaanu Historic Wharf

The early 1800’s and still going strong. The Tokaanu wharf is the stuff of sunset photos with its evocative landscape of aging wharf reaching out into the lake. It is a popular spot for wharf fishing and makes for a great thing to do while visiting Tokaanu.


For more information check out Taupo guide, things to do.

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


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

Related articles


If you have a query about content, travel deals or anything else, our team is happy to answer all your questions 🙂

    Your information is secure, no third party involved.
    100% Safe, secure, privacy guaranteed. Privacy Policy.