15 Memorable Things to Do in Taupo, New Zealand

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Taupo is one of New Zealand’s best adventure travel destinations because the small town’s superb location on the Waikato River where the blue water empties into the cool climes of Lake Taupo is quite simply magnificent.

The town has grown into one of the North Island’s outdoor hubs, as aside from the lake and the river, within easy reach of Taupo can be found hot springs, waterfalls, pristine forests, and mountain peaks.

There are a lot of great things to do in Taupo, from cycling and rafting to bathing in thermal hot springs and hiking through volcanic landscapes. To inspire your trip, here are our favorite things to do in Taupo.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet New Zealand (Travel Guide)

15 Best Things to do in Taupo, New Zealand

1. Swim in Lake Taupo

Tourist swimming in Great Lake Taupo

Sitting beautifully on the edge of the largest lake in New Zealand, it would be a crime not to go swimming in the cool, clear waters. Except, perhaps if you’re visiting in winter, when it might just be a little bit too cold.

Lake Taupo is a glorious sight, and all along the lake’s edge, you can find excellent swimming spots to jump on in.

You can hike or bike around the lake, before working up enough of a sweat to cool off in the water. Swimming is the best thing to do in Taupo.

Our top recommended tours of Lake Taupo:

2. Hike to Huka Falls

The Huka Falls on the Waikato River

Huka Falls is a spectacular waterfall that’s found on the Waikato River, that pumps out hundreds of thousands of liters of turquoise, alpine water every second towards the lake.

This is one of the top things to do in Taupo because even in a country blessed with such magnificent natural features as New Zealand, few other waterfalls can match Huka Falls for sheer impressiveness.

The Huka Falls are just a short drive away from Taupo, and they are so close in fact that you could even hike there in just over an hour if you are feeling energetic.

If you are adventurous, then you can join a speed boat tour that takes you as close to the crashing, powerful water as you can get.

Our top recommended tours of Huka Falls:

3. Take the Taupo Bungy

Taupo Bungy

New Zealand is the home of modern bungy jumping, so of course, Taupo has it’s own monstrously high bungee jump to offer adventure travelers.

The 47-meter high jump will give you not only a beautiful panoramic over the lake as you make your way to the jumping platform, but you’ll get the exhilarating thrill of a lifetime as you plummet towards the water.

The Taupo Bungy also allows you to touch the water when you jump – if you want that is – and it’s the tallest water entry bungee jump in the entire country. If you really want to experience the lake, then there are few better ways to do it.

The same company also operates an enormous bungee swing, known as the Taupo Cliff Hanger, which will give you an equally ferocious adrenaline rush.

Our top recommended tours of Taupo Bungy:

4. The Great Lake Walkway

Touring bicycle riding in New Zealand. Taupo lake.

The Great Lake Walkway is a 10 kilometer stretch of paved pathways that lead from Taupo around the lake.

It’s a beautiful way to experience Lake Taupo in a relaxed setting, as you follow the contours of the embankments and are given sweeping, spectacular views over the water.

It’s easy and flat, and you can either hike the route or, as most people choose to do, hire a bicycle or mountain bike to get around quicker.

You can stop off, go for a swim, take pictures and enjoy the great landscapes arrayed before you. The walkway ends at 5 Mile Bay, one of the most aesthetic bays around Lake Taupo.

Our top recommended tours of The Great Lake Walkway:

5. Cruise Five Mile Bay

White yacht sail boats sailing over Lake Taupo

Five Mile Bay is found 10 kilometers away from Taupo, along the Great Lake Walkway, and it’s a fantastic place to go swimming.

Five Mile Bay is a nature preserve and while all of Lake Taupo is beautiful, this bay is particularly spectacular.

It’s a great place for swimming, and if you don’t fancy going back to Taupo, you can even bring along your camping gear and camp out for the night on the lakeside.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet New Zealand (Travel Guide)

6. Go Skydiving

Skydiving in Taupo, New Zealand

Another reason why Taupo is so popular with adventure travelers is that the opportunities for skydiving over the lake are incredible. Our very first skydive was over Lake Taupo and truth be told, we are now hooked. 

If you’ve never jumped out of a plane before, then this is perhaps one of the most spectacular locations to do so.

Even if you have thrown yourself into the sky before, then Lake Taupo can rarely be matched by anywhere else in the world.

As well as having the best view over the lake as you fly high into the sky, you’ll get the thrill of a lifetime as you plummet in free fall towards it after launching yourself out of the airplane!

There’s unlikely to be a better view from anywhere else around Taupo.

Our top recommended tours of Skydiving:

7. Climb Mount Tauhara

Overlooking Lake Taupo and the townshio from Mt Tauhara

If you’d like a great view but don’t quite want the thrill of hurtling towards the ground from a plane, then the next best view of the lake is from the top of Mount Tauhara.

The mountain is a dormant volcano that rises to 1088 meters in height, but the walk is actually surprisingly easy.

A trail leads for just under 3 kilometers to the summit, from the base, just outside of the town of Taupo itself.

It will take you around an hour to get the top, from where you have superb views of the lake and across to the other surrounding mountain peaks too.

8. Go Skiing

Skiing in Taupo New Zealand

In winter, while the lake might be too cold for swimming, there are plenty of opportunities for snow sports, and one of the best things to do in Taupo is to strap on a pair of skis and to hit the slopes.

There are plenty of dedicated ski resorts, especially in the Tongariro National Park which is located nearby, and Taupo makes for a great base for winter activities.

9. Visit the Riverside Market

Riverside Market

If you are looking for a lovely break from the strenuous activities, then every Saturday morning you can head to the Riverside Market in Taupo.

Here you can find all sorts of local vendors, and it’s certainly one of the best things to do in Taupo.

Buy a few local souvenirs, indulge in some local food and mingle with the locals and other tourists in a beautiful setting.

10. Soak at the Spa Thermal Park

Spa Thermal Park, Taupo, NZ

One of the most relaxing things to do in Taupo is to call in for a few hours at the local Spa Thermal Park.

The high level of volcanic activity in New Zealand means that there are plenty of thermal hot springs around, and at the Spa Thermal Park, you can even bathe for free.

Take a towel, and get ready for a complete immersion in the warm water as you do little but soak up the minerals.

11. Try Your Hand at Rafting

Waikato River in New Zealand

The Waikato River offers the chance to take on some extreme white water rafting when you are visiting, and this could well be one of the most exhilarating things to do in Taupo.

The churning water offers a multitude of different grades for rafting, and you’re sure to have a thrill and get soaked as you explore the river.

Our top recommended tours including Rafting:

12. Marvel at the Aratiatia Rapids

Aratiatia Rapids

The Aratiatia Rapids is a powerful sight to behold in Taupo. Found along the Waikato River, not far from the town, the rapids hurl out water as the gates to the local dam are opened up several times a day.

You can’t swim here, because the water is just too powerful and too dangerous, but you can watch from the side of the river as the flood gates are opened and the river becomes a churning mass in front of you.

13. View the Maori Rock Carvings

Maori Rock Carvings, Taupo, NZ

The Maori Rock Carvings are found on Lake Taupo, at Mine Bay. The carvings are spectacular, but they aren’t quite as old as you might be expecting.

Dating back only to the 1970s when a local artist decided to carve Maori artwork into the cliffs.

They are a wonderful sight, however, and a great way for local traditions and heritage to be expressed around Taupo for all to see.

If you want to get up close, then the rocks extend over the water, so the best way to get out there is to rent a canoe or a kayak and to start paddling.

Our top recommended tours of Maori Rock Carvings:

14. Hike at Craters of the Moon

Wairakei Thermal Valley - Taupo, North Island, New Zealand

The Craters of the Moon are a geothermal hotspot with an otherworldly look to them.

The thermal activity below ground erupts on the surface, spewing hot water and gasses, and you can get close by hiking along the short walkways laid out through the craters.

It’s a great example of the powerful natural forces at work here and the forces that shaped the landscapes that you see today over millions of years.

15. Visit the Taupo Museum

Love Taupo sign on the shore of Lake Taupo.

For something a little bit different from all the outdoor activities, then take a trip to the Taupo Museum in town.

The small museum won’t take too long to explore, but it’s still packed with wonderful insights into the local area.

You’ll find some great exhibits, stories and even a small art gallery showcasing some interesting local work.

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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