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Taupo in New Zealand: Huka Falls & other travel tips

Lake Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island is actually the largest lake in the country. The place of the same name is a bit sleepy, but very cozy. The real highlights, however, are outside of the town center: For example, the mighty Huka Falls with their sparkling blue water.

If you travel to the North Island of New Zealand, then there is a relatively high probability that you will also come across Taupo. In this blog article we tell you what you can experience in and around Taupo. Curtain up for our personal tips for Taupo.

1. Lake Taupo: New Zealand’s largest lake We want to be honest: Although Lake Taupo is quite a beautiful lake, it is not one of the most spectacular places in New Zealand. Taupo itself is a bit sleepy and not nearly as lively as, for example, Queenstown. Taupo also lacks rugged mountain ranges around the lake, such as those found in Wanaka.

The landscape here is completely different, but Taupo has other charms: in the region you can find about fascinating areas with geothermal activity. If you are lucky with the weather, then Lake Taupo is ideal for swimming. And then of course there is the Huka Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in New Zealand.

About 1, 5 hours drive south of Taupo you will also find a volcanic area, through which New Zealand’s most famous day hike leads: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Right next door is a rather unknown volcano that you can also climb: Mount Ruapehu. While we wouldn’t choose Taupo as a starting point for a hike (there are closer places like Ohakune here), you might want to plan Taupo as a leisurely stopover before or after the strenuous hike.

2. Attractions in and around Taupo Huka Falls We could spend hours watching the clear, light blue water of Huka Falls whip through the canyon and then falls with a roaring noise into the depths. The spectacular Huka Falls are rightly one of the most photographed attractions in New Zealand.

They are located just outside of Taupo town centre. You can easily reach Huka Falls by car. Only a short walk separates you from the parking lot from the waterfalls. More exciting and varied is the hiking trail that takes you from Taupo to the Huka Falls in about an hour.

By the way: the fast boat tours, which bring you very close to the Huka Falls, we have left out. If you are interested in water or adventure sports, then a trip like this might be something for you.

Orakei Korako The region around Taupo is known for its geothermal activity. There are several places where you can see the full range of geysers, hot springs and mud pools. Since we already knew the famous “Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland” from our last trip to New Zealand, we decided on the lesser-known “Orakei Korako”.

We didn’t expect much and were pleasantly surprised at the end. The well-signposted circular route through the site takes about 1.5 hours. It’s pretty impressive what nature produces here. If you have never been to such an area of ​​geothermal activity, then a visit to Orakei Korako is highly recommended! The only downside: The entrance fee is with 101 NZD relatively steep.

Information about the visit of Orakei Korako Arrival: approx. 36 Minutes by car from Taupo town center. You can reach the site after a short 3-minute boat ride (included in the entrance fee)

Entry: 36 NZD per person (15 NZD for children under 16 )
Tour: takes about 1.5 hours (depending on how fast you walk)

Sunset at Lake Taupo We were really lucky. Because, although the weather was rather bad during our time in Taupo, one evening the sky opened up and we were able to experience a spectacular sunset at the lake. By the way, you can hardly miss the huge and frequently photographed Taupo lettering. It’s located on the boardwalk along Lake Terrace between KFC and McDonald’s (whose Taupo branch is partly in an old airplane, by the way).

Tongariro & Mount Ruapehu About 1.5 hours drive south of Taupo is a spectacular volcanic area that is probably New Zealand’s most famous day hike leads: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Personally, Taupo would be a bit too far away as a starting point for the hike, but it is quite common to start from there. There are several shuttle companies in Taupo.

We ourselves stopped for a few hours at Mount Ruapehu on our last trip to New Zealand on the way from Wellington to Taupo. In the winter Mount Ruapehu is a ski area, in the summer it is a surreal hiking area.

We left our car at the chairlift parking lot in Whakapapa switched off. Unfortunately, when we visited, the second and longer of the two chairlifts (“Waterfall Express”) that goes up to the Knoll Ridge Cafe was out of service . In a short time he would have us on 750 Altitude brought. We could have taken the first chairlift (“Rangatira Express”), but even the lift operator advised us against it, as it only takes half an hour to walk. So we just started hiking and within a very short time we were all alone in a crazy volcanic landscape.

We would have loved to have hiked right up to the summit (or the crater lake), but the clouds were unbelievable that day low and the weather forecast was really bad. We can also confirm that the trails are hardly (or not at all) signposted – so we would only recommend the hike to the crater lake in good weather. If the second chairlift that goes up to the Knoll Ridge Cafe is in operation when you visit, we would definitely ride it if we were you. With it you can cover many meters of altitude very comfortably and very quickly. That must be really spectacular up there!

3. Eating & Drinking in Taupo: Our Tips Spoon & Paddle A great place for a delicious breakfast or lunch is the Spoon & Paddle. There are different breakfast dishes such as Eggs Benedict, but also delicious salads and cakes. The family-friendly café is idyllically situated and also has a pretty front garden.

Address: 101 Heuheu Street, Taupo

Pauly’s Diner Probably the best burgers in Taupo are at Pauly’s Diner. The burger bar was founded by two young New Zealanders and you can tell immediately that there is a lot of passion here. The small shop is unassuming, but the burgers are really tasty. And the best: There is also a vegetarian alternative.

Address: 3 Paora Hapi Street, Taupo

4. Our accommodation in Taupo In Taupo we were lucky again: we spent two nights in the beautiful A Loft with a View. The small apartment is attached to the house of a young family. Nevertheless, you have your complete privacy here. The apartment is beautifully decorated. We felt at home from the moment we walked in.

It is a bit out of the center so you need a car. Since it is slightly elevated, you even have a view of Lake Taupo. The announced “breakfast” is limited to cornflakes, milk, toast and jam. You prepare your own breakfast in the apartment, but that didn’t bother us. Our summary: Absolute recommendation!

You can book the apartment here: A Loft with a View

5. More New Zealand Travel Reports Our route through New Zealand The most beautiful day hikes in New Zealand Christchurch: Sights & Tips Lake Tekapo: Our Tips Dunedin & Otago Peninsula The Catlins – New Zealand’s rugged south Helicopter flight over Queenstown Wanaka: Hike to Roy’s Peak Day hike in Abel Tasman National Park Wellington: Tips for New Zealand’s cozy capital Travel Tips Napier 2018 Transparency: This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. cool thing right? A thousand thanks from both of us!

Do you know Taupo and surroundings? Or do you have any other tips for Taupo? As always, we look forward to your comments!