The Maori rock carvings in lake Taupo, New Zealand

Things to do in  Taupo

A natural waterpark for all ages

Located on New Zealand’s North Island, the town of Taupō overlooks a clear blue lake and is surrounded by lush greenery and geothermal pools. Taupō is a hub for outdoor adventure. Things to do in and around Taupō include taking a boat to the Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, hiking along Huka Falls, and relaxing in outdoor hot springs. Don’t miss out on the Taupō Museum, home to a beautifully carved wharenui (Māori communal house) and info on the area's natural history.

Top 15 attractions in Taupo

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

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Measuring more than 33 feet (10 meters) high, these mammoth Maori sculptures were chiseled into the rocks on the edge of Lake Taupo in the late 1970s. Created by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, the carvings depict Ngatoroirangi, who is said to have guided the Te Arawa tribes from their Polynesian homeland to New Zealand.More

Lake Taupo

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Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, at over 230 square miles (596 square kilometers). Formed by a prehistoric supervolcanic eruption, the lake now sits in the volcano’s dormant caldera. Walk the pristine shores of this naturaltaonga (treasure), kayak or waterski, or enjoy the trout fishing for which the lake is famous.More

Huka Falls

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Just outside of Taupo, Huka Falls is one of the most visited natural attractions on New Zealand’s North Island. Waikato River’s largest falls are fed by Australasia’s biggest freshwater lake, Lake Taupo. Explore the footbridge for a bird’s-eye view of the falls or walk along the Huka Falls Trail, which follows the river.More

Orakei Korako

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Steaming geysers, hot springs, and mud pools bubble up from boiling-hot reservoirs below the Earth’s surface at Orakei Korako geothermal park. The area boasts silica terraces decorated with colorful swirling patterns—the result of the hot water algae—and a rare geothermal cave.More
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Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa

Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa

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Cascades of mineral-rich water tumble into steaming bathing pools at this outdoor thermal spa. As well as a garden filled with native flora, the complex encompasses a manmade geothermal site with silica terraces, blue-and-green steam pools, a geyser, and replica Maori huts.More
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Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley

Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley

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Steam surges from the ground of this active geothermal valley, which rises up from boiling mud and colorful hot pools. As well as boasting geothermal phenomena, Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley features a camping ground with small animals such as chickens and sheep.More
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Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

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A pathway winds through the lunar-like landscape of this geothermal area, leading you past steaming vents and geysers, and gurgling mud pools. Previously dormant, the Craters of the Moon fizzed to life in the 1950s after underground water levels were altered by the activity of a nearby power station.More
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Tongariro River

Tongariro River

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Running from the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu north to Lake Taupo, the Tongariro River is an extremely popular trout-fishing spot. That’s not all that this scenic alpine waterway offers, though: hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and white-water rafting are all available for visitors seeking adventure in the beautiful New Zealand wilderness.More
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Huka Prawn Park

Huka Prawn Park

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Crustaceans have the starring role at this aquacultural facility and activity park, where you can feed, fish for, and eat prawns. As well as taking a tour of the prawn nursery and hatchery, you can soak your feet in geothermal waters, go stand-up paddleboarding, and follow adventure trails.More
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Waikato River

Waikato River

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Spilling 259 miles (417 kilometers) from Mt. Ruapehu to its terminus at the Tasman Sea, the Waikato River is the longest river in New Zealand. Located outside of Taupo, in the central part of the North Island, this river forms the lifeblood of the region’s aquatic playground. Kayakers from around the world come to play in its rapids.More
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Aratiatia Rapids

Aratiatia Rapids

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Several times a day, the spill gates from a dam on the Waikato River are opened and transform the otherwise calm waterway into a turbulent melee of white-water rapids. As it courses through the gorge, the raging power of the river is harnessed by a nearby power plant in order to produce hydroelectric power.More
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Volcanic Activity Centre

Volcanic Activity Centre

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Turangi’s Volcanic Activity Centre is an educational facility filled with stories and experiences dedicated to the history and science of New Zealand’s volcanic landscapes. Learn about the Taupo region’s geothermal and volcanic activity—from the supervolcano that created Lake Taupo to the still-active Mt. Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park.More
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Waipahihi Botanical Gardens

Waipahihi Botanical Gardens

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A welcome contrast to the North Island’s steam plumes, sulfuric mud pools, and rugged geothermal craters, Waipahihi Botanical Gardens are a vibrant and fragrant refuge overlooking Lake Taupo. Wander the 86 acres (35 hectares) of native and foreign flowers and trees, or picnic while enjoying views of the lake and Tongariro National Park.More
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Taupo Museum

Taupo Museum

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Located a short walk from where the Waikato River meets Lake Taupo, the Taupo Museum holds the history and culture of the Taupo region for visitors to learn and experience. The museum and art gallery’s many exhibits tell the stories of the local Maori tribes, the town’s early industrial years, and the volcanic origins of the lake itself.More
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Mt. Tauhara

Mt. Tauhara

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Lake Taupo is known for an array of water sports, but it’s also one of the best places for hiking on the North Island of New Zealand. For one of the prime vistas of Lake Taupo, the steep trek up Mt. Tauhara offers panoramic views of the Taupo lakeshore and the surrounding mountains of the Central Plateau.More

Top activities in Taupo

Maori Rock Carvings Scenic Cruise

Maori Rock Carvings Scenic Cruise

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Tongariro Crossing Round trip transfer from Turangi
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The Maori Carvings Half Day Kayak
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2-Hour Waikato River Guided Kayak Trip from Taupo
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Maori Rock Carvings - Taupo Sailing Adventures - Sail Fearless
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Lake Taupo - Maori Rock Carvings Package (Mountain Biking & Kayaking)
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Stand Up Paddle Board Hire - Lake Taupo
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Great Lake Trail Lake Taupo 2-Day Mountain Biking Tour
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Maori Rock Carvings - Taupo Sailing Adventures -Tiua
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Maori Rock Carvings - Taupo Sailing Adventures -Tiua

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Taupo Return Shuttle

Taupo Return Shuttle

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All about Taupo

When to visit

Summer (December–February) is a busy time in Taupō, but it’s for good reason. The warm weather makes the huge, clear lake extra inviting, and visitors flock to kayak, swim, walk, or cycle around the lake. When temperatures dip in the evening, it’s the perfect time for a long soak in one of the many natural hot springs.

Getting around

Taupō is a small town that's well-served by the Taupō Connecter bus service. Otherwise, taxis are easy to find, and there are plenty of tours that include transportation. You can also rent bikes to explore the surrounding areas and scenic trails. It’s a 3.5-hour drive to Taupō from Auckland and a 4.5-hour drive from Wellington. The centrally located town also has an airport with daily flights from the big cities.

Traveler tips

A 25-minute walk from downtown Taupō, Spa Thermal Park is home to the welcoming waters of Otumuheke Stream. This free, public hot spring is a local favorite—you can soak in the waters, splash under a waterfall, or hike the surrounding trails which lead to Huka Falls. You’ll find a small coffee shop, changing rooms, toilets, and lockers at the park, as well as a play area for kids.

Attractions
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Tours
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People Also Ask

Is Taupō worth visiting?

Yes—this small lakeside town is an ideal spot to relax and unwind in nature. With the perfect blend of waterfront and surrounding parks, there’s something for a variety of travelers. The natural hot springs are also a highlight.

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How should you spend a day in Taupō?

Start with a boat tour to the Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay carvings by Matahi Brightwell. They blend seamlessly with the local environment and can only be viewed from the water. In the afternoon, head to Spa Thermal Park for a hike to Huka Falls, before returning to soak in Otumuheke Stream.

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Is it ok to swim in Lake Taupō?

Yes—New Zealand’s largest lake is owned by the Ngāti Tūwharetoa nation, which grants the public access for recreation. It’s a taonga—treasured possession—for the nation and provides 882,866 cubic feet of drinking water daily. The average temperature of the lake is around 60°F (16°C).

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What is Taupō best known for?

Taupō is known for the clearness of its lake, as well as the thundering Huka Falls, the most-visited natural attraction in the country. The clear turquoise color and foamy rapids make the falls a popular destination for jet boat tours, which take visitors to its base.

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Can you walk around Lake Taupō?

No, not continuously. The lake is 120 miles (193 kilometers) around and no one trail encircles it. There are shorter sections with excellent scenery. The 6-mile (10-kilometer) Great Lake Pathway goes from Lake Taupō Yacht Club to Five Mile Bay. You’ll find bathrooms, cafés, and picnic spots along the path.

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Does it snow in Taupō?

No. It almost never snows in Taupō itself, but the surrounding mountains are popular winter destinations for skiing and snowboarding. From July to August, Whakapapa, Turoa, and Tukino open for the ski season. An evening in the hot springs is the perfect way to cap off a day on the slopes.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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