Taupo travel guide

Taupo Tourism | Taupo Guide

You're Going to Love Taupo

Taupo is a mix of people who simply want to luxuriate in the natural surroundings and beauty all around and adrenaline-loving thrill-seekers who take on the incredible mountains and choppy waters. No matter why you arrive, you're sure to think: "I could get used to this way of life!"

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Taupo

1. Take Part in Any Outdoor Adventure!

Skiing, bungee-jumping, kayaking, tandem skydives, parasailing, mountain biking, white-water rafting: if there's an outdoor activity your heart has been yearning for, you can do it in Taupo.

2. Decipher the Maori Rock Carvings at Mine Bay

Taupo has a rich indigenous history. You can kayak out to the carvings on Mine Bay, featuring huge faces and smaller historical figurines, a testament to the Maori people.

3. Conquer Mt. Tauhara

The infamous Mt. Tauhara is actually a dormant volcano. If you manage to reach the top, you'll be rewarded with incredible views of Taupo and the Central North Island.

4. Splash Around at Action World Taupo

Action World, with its splash and wave pools and water slides, is a great draw for families or simply those who love water parks.

5. Stroll in the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve

Created from scratch, the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve is a sprawling 35 hectares of rare alpine plants, rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias.

What to do in Taupo

1. A Freshwater Dream

Whether you like fishing or just enjoy being in the outdoors, Lake Taupo is sure to take your breath away. This is the second largest freshwater lake in the world and the largest lake in New Zealand by surface area. However, it's not just the size that's impressive about this lake - it's the sheer blue and towering mountains behind it that make it so breathtaking. Perfect for fishing, cycling or just exploring, Lake Taupo should be on the top of your list of things to do in Taupo.

2. White Water Like You'Ve Never Seen Before

This is easily one of the most impressive white water falls in New Zealand. The water is so blue it almost looks fake and the power of the rushing water is incredible. Huka Falls is made up of several waterfalls and goes through a shocking 220,000 liters per second. It's hard to imagine anything rushing that quickly, so although it's stunning, make sure to keep your feet firmly planted on land!

3. Small But Mighty

The Taupo Museum on the face of it looks a little pokey. You might wonder why you should go there, but really this could be one of the highlights of the trip. New Zealand has a rich culture, and it's once you start getting outside of the cities you really experience it. The Taupo Museum details the history of the area, the culture of the people who lived there and the stories of the current community. Not only is there a local art gallery, but also history, stories and artifacts from the area, as well as a garden.

4. The Eye Of Sauron

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan (and even if you're not) this is an absolute must-see if you're coming to Taupo. What was known as Mount Doom in the films is the real-life Mount Ngauruhoe. If you aren't much of a hiker and would rather just see the mountain, you can actually get a pretty great view of it from Lake Taupo. However, if you feel like venturing up the volcano, make sure you read up and are prepared for the journey. Be aware that it is an active volcano and its last eruption was in 1977.

5. Without Leaving Earth

Although Taupo is not the geothermal center of New Zealand, that doesn't mean there's no geothermal activity for you to experience. Craters of the Moon looks exactly as it sounds - like you've just stepped off the earth into a world completely unknown. Big craters filled with steam swirling around, water that's boiling naturally and the smell of sulfur will certainly convince you you're no longer in New Zealand or on our world at all. Although it's a great site, make sure to stay on the designated paths.

1. A Freshwater Dream

Whether you like fishing or just enjoy being in the outdoors, Lake Taupo is sure to take your breath away. This is the second largest freshwater lake in the world and the largest lake in New Zealand by surface area. However, it's not just the size that's impressive about this lake - it's the sheer blue and towering mountains behind it that make it so breathtaking. Perfect for fishing, cycling or just exploring, Lake Taupo should be on the top of your list of things to do in Taupo.

2. White Water Like You'Ve Never Seen Before

This is easily one of the most impressive white water falls in New Zealand. The water is so blue it almost looks fake and the power of the rushing water is incredible. Huka Falls is made up of several waterfalls and goes through a shocking 220,000 liters per second. It's hard to imagine anything rushing that quickly, so although it's stunning, make sure to keep your feet firmly planted on land!

3. Small But Mighty

The Taupo Museum on the face of it looks a little pokey. You might wonder why you should go there, but really this could be one of the highlights of the trip. New Zealand has a rich culture, and it's once you start getting outside of the cities you really experience it. The Taupo Museum details the history of the area, the culture of the people who lived there and the stories of the current community. Not only is there a local art gallery, but also history, stories and artifacts from the area, as well as a garden.

4. The Eye Of Sauron

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan (and even if you're not) this is an absolute must-see if you're coming to Taupo. What was known as Mount Doom in the films is the real-life Mount Ngauruhoe. If you aren't much of a hiker and would rather just see the mountain, you can actually get a pretty great view of it from Lake Taupo. However, if you feel like venturing up the volcano, make sure you read up and are prepared for the journey. Be aware that it is an active volcano and its last eruption was in 1977.

5. Without Leaving Earth

Although Taupo is not the geothermal center of New Zealand, that doesn't mean there's no geothermal activity for you to experience. Craters of the Moon looks exactly as it sounds - like you've just stepped off the earth into a world completely unknown. Big craters filled with steam swirling around, water that's boiling naturally and the smell of sulfur will certainly convince you you're no longer in New Zealand or on our world at all. Although it's a great site, make sure to stay on the designated paths.

Where to Eat in Taupo

A local Taupo favorite is Spoon and Paddle. This youthful and relaxed cafe serves up everything from freshly brewed, fair trade coffee to local beers and melting lamb shoulder tortillas. Mains cost between NZ$12 - NZ$19.

When to visit Taupo

Taupo in March
Estimated hotel price
$56
1 night at 3-star hotel
Taupo in March
Estimated hotel price
$56
1 night at 3-star hotel

The activities you want to partake in will determine the "best" time to go. There are four distinct seasons with a mild summer, perfect for beach-going, and a cool winter which, coupled with the area's mountainous terrain, makes skiing a viable activity. The climate is cooler in Taupo than anywhere else, in general, because of its high elevation.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Taupo

Plane

International visitors will land at Taupo Airport (TUO), via Auckland or Wellington. Use a taxi to get to the city center, which is five miles away.

Train

There are no trains to Taupo but there are shared trips on shuttles. Use the Mountain Shuttle to Tongariro Crossing, running between Ketetahi and Mangatepopo for NZ$30.

Car

Surrounding cities like Napier are easily accessed. Use the Thermal Explorer Highway for 83 miles to get to Tamamutu St. and arrive in Taupo.

Bus

Book online with NakedBus (also known as Mana Trips). A trip from Taupo to the National Park Village in Tongariro, for example, starts at NZ$19, plus luggage and booking fees.

Airports near Taupo

Airlines serving Taupo

Singapore Airlines
Good (154 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (100 reviews)
Air New Zealand
Excellent (36 reviews)
Air China
Okay (3 reviews)

Where to stay in Taupo

If you love that good lodge life, check into the Huka Lodge. Visitors who are looking for modest but comfy accommodations will love the Cove. Backpackers will appreciate the hospitality of Blackcurrant Backpackers.

Popular neighborhoods in Taupo

National Park Village - Tongariro Crossing - a national park with mountains you can scale, trails you can get lost on, and horizons that are a feast for the eyes. It is located at the base of Mt. Ruapehu.

Wharewaka - located at the end of the bus line, Wharewaka is quickly becoming known for its high density of vacation home developments, as well as its beaches.

Acacia Bay - looking straight out onto the sparkling waters of the pristine Lake Taupo is this district, which is popular for visitor accommodations as well as for local residents.

Where to stay in popular areas of Taupo

Most booked hotels in Taupo

Taupo Debretts Spa Resort
Excellent (8.4, 3628 reviews)
$54+
Acapulco Motor Inn
Excellent (8.3, 3042 reviews)
$89+
Hilton Lake Taupo
Excellent (8.3, 2405 reviews)
$138+
Wairakei Resort Taupo
Good (7.7, 2583 reviews)
$91+
Tuscany on Taupo
Poor (0, 0 reviews)
$133+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Taupo

Public Transportation

Though most visitors to Taupo can get by on foot, Taupo Central has a "Busit" service, which is its local transportation. A single Busit fare for an adult is NZ$1.50. If you're paying with cash, a single fare is NZ$2.

Taxi

Grab a taxi from local providers like Great Lake Taxis. Rides are metered, not pre-set. Fares start at NZ$3 and NZ$1.86 per mile thereafter.

Car

You can rent a car from companies like Budget or Thrifty Taupo Airport. Fares vary but the regional average works out to about NZ$35 - NZ$120 per day for a standard 4-door rental.

The Cost of Living in Taupo

Shopping Streets

The Taupo town center features a whole array of boutique shops and outlets with lots of parking. You can also head to Ballentynes Fashion Central Taupo.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk in Taupo costs NZ$2.42 and a dozen eggs costs NZ$5.