A Few Facts
Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand and roughly the same size as Singapore. The lake itself is technically a dormant volcano which feeds into the mighty Waikato river, New Zealand’s longest river. Lake Taupo was formed during one of the worlds largest volcanic events a ‘supervolcanic’ eruption thousands of years ago which basically created a huge crater which water has collected.
We spent four days in the town of Taupo, during that time we managed to accomplish quite a lot. Driving down from Auckland to Taupo takes only 3 hours and feels like a world away form the hustle and bustle of New Zealand’s most populous city. Below I’ve detailed what we got up to during our four days – a sort of suggested itinerary for Taupo if you will.
Lake Taupo – Walking.
You can walk stretches of the lake itself, but the most popular tracks are often a short drive from the lake and main town. We visited Opepe reserve (about 15kms from lake Taupo) and spent a few hours walking around the cemetery track bird spotting and taking in the beauty. Another popular option is the lions walk which can take up to three hours, according to locals there are some great swimming holes and private areas for picnics (next time, next time!)
Our bikes come everywhere with us, they make getting around a breeze. New Zealand was made for mountain biking, with so many trails and cycle paths, Taupo is no exception. There is no one trail I’d recommend, we did a portion of the great lake trail which is potentially a three day cycle!
Lake Taupo is well stocked with brown and rainbow trout, native crayfish and whitebait. The lake is large enough not to be shoulder to shoulder with other fishermen. The best time to fish is during spawning season, but fish can be caught all year round. The most popular locations for catching trout are where rivers and streams meet feed into Lake Taupo. If you need someone to take you out we reccommend chartering a boat from Chris Jolly Outdoors, great service and great fun! http://chrisjolly.co.nz/private-fishing-charters/
DeBretts Hot Pools
DeBretts is basically a hot thermal pool, it takes a little while to get used to swimming and paddling in warm water, but its quite an experience. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, it’s really easy to get dehydrated, don’t drink water from the pools or put your head under the water!
No trip down from Auckland to Taupo would be complete without a visit to Huka falls, actually it doesn’t really matter which direction you are coming from as its less than 2Km from Taupo. The fall itself is created by more than 200,000 litres of water per second (the Waikato river) being squeezed into a narrow gully then out, check out the photos below. Well worth visiting! You can even take a jetboat their if your feeling extra adventurous!
Maori Rock Carvings Cruise
The Maori rock carvings were our wild card purchase, we had a spare day and have not been out on the lake. Before the cruise, I didn’t know anything about the rock carvings and very little about the lake (most of the knowledge in the opening paragraphs was from the cruise – hopefully I got it right!) There are a couple of options for getting out on the lake and seeing the Maori rock carvings, we went with Sail Barbary. The cruise itself was enjoyable and not boring at all. The captain told her stories with enthusiasm and taught us about Maori history, the lakes history and even how to pilot the sailing boat. You might be surprised to learn that the carvings were created only recently in the 1970’s, nether the less, they are of great significance to the local Maori tribe and tourism in Taupo.
Top Tip: If you need to find somewhere to stay when you visit then we highly recommend booking your accommodation in advance, it’s important not to under estimate how busy NZ gets between September and March each year. We suggest checking out BookaBach (private homes often not found on AirBnB) or this link to find out instant availability of the motels/hotels/guest houses in the area.
For a little more adventure, you could consider kayaking to the rock carvings – or do what I did and have a couple of bottles of beer, sit back and relax after four days of activity.
For more inspiration of what to do, check out the below. Taupo will always hold a special place in our heart as it is the first place we went Skydiving too in 2009! 🙂
Are you heading to lake Taupo? If you had another day in Taupo, where would you go / what would you do? We’d love to hear from you.