Travel Notes: Exploring Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Travel Notes: Exploring Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Welcome to Lake Taupo, a breathtaking jewel located in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. Known for its awe-inspiring beauty and countless outdoor adventures. Lake Taupo offers a perfect mix of nature, culture, relaxation and adrenaline pumping activities. Whether you are a nature lover, an adventurer or someone looking for peace and quiet, this captivating region has something to offer everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the incredible things to do and see around Lake Taupo, ensuring an unforgettable experience in this picturesque destination.

Sugar falls

Sugar falls

Start your Lake Taupo journey with a visit to Huka Falls, a spectacle that leaves visitors in awe. Admire the vibrant blue waters as they flow with tremendous force, creating a captivating display of the forces of nature. Next, take a scenic hike along the Huka Falls Trail to experience several viewpoints and take breathtaking photos of this incredible natural wonder.

Immerse yourself in Maori culture

Discover the rich cultural heritage of the Maori people by taking part in traditional ceremonies, performances and storytelling. Experience a traditional Maori hangi (feast) where food is cooked in earthen ovens and hear ancient legends passed down through the generations.

Enjoy water activities

Lake Taupo is known for its crystal clear waters and offers an array of exciting water activities. Take a thrilling jet boat ride down the Waikato River, navigate the lake’s pristine waters on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, or try your hand at fishing, with trout being a popular catch.

Maori petroglyphs

For a truly unique experience, embark on a scenic cruise to the famous Māori rock carvings in Mine Bay, immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural scenery. I suggest one of the small sailing ships. These petroglyphs are not that old, but incredible to see. Master sculptor Matahi, along with his team of assistants, carved a 10-meter statue of Ngatoroirangi, a visionary Māori navigator, in the Taupō area. The statue took four summers to complete and was a gift to the community. In addition to the main carving, Matahi incorporated smaller Celtic figures representing the south wind. The project was funded through small donations from local bar patrons, and the team worked without seeking payment. The sculpture also serves as a symbol of cultural fusion and the enduring connections between different New Zealand heritages.

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Geothermal resources

Enjoy hot springs and geothermal delights

Unwind and rejuvenate your senses by visiting the geothermal wonderland surrounding Lake Taupo. Immerse yourself in the soothing mineral waters of the Taupo Hot Springs Spa or the nearby Wairakei Terraces, where you can soak in natural hot springs and indulge in therapeutic treatments. Next, explore the Craters of the Moon geothermal area, where steaming vents, bubbling mud pools, and vibrant colors create a surreal landscape.

Tongariro National Park

For the enthusiast, Tongariro National Park offers a wealth of adventures, located just south of Lake Taupo. Embark on the world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a challenging yet rewarding hike that takes you through a volcanic wonderland, past vibrant emerald lakes, steaming vents and ancient lava flows. Don’t miss the chance to climb Mount Ngauruhoe, also known as Mount Doom from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, for a truly epic experience. There are also nearby waterfalls such as Bridal Veil Falls. There is also Waipunga Falls, TeHeroto and then on to Pungaghuru Falls, a bit hard to find but worth the effort.

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Skydiving and paragliding

Embark on a skydiving adventure

For adrenaline junkies looking for an unforgettable thrill, Lake Taupo is a skydiving paradise. Experience the thrill of freefalling from 15,000 feet above the breathtaking lake and snow-capped mountains, taking in breathtaking views as you parachute back to Earth. With highly experienced instructors and state of the art equipment, this will be an adrenaline pumping adventure you will cherish forever.

When all else fails, go cycling, walking or enjoy the shops and cafes along the waterfront. We spent a few lunches in one of the waterfront restaurants watching the world go by.


  • The Maori petroglyphs are a must; book one of the smaller sailing ships and make a day out of it.
  • Check the local weather before heading out on the lake.
  • Between the lake views, waterfalls and petroglyphs, it pays to bring a few different lenses if you can. Wide-angle lens and tripods, with ND filters for soft silk falls. Zoom lenses for close-up views of some of the action.
  • I also recommend a good pair of walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen.