Waikato

Things to Do in Taupo That Are Good for the Soul

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This site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission (for which I am very grateful).

When you’re searching for things to do in Taupo, it’s like stepping into a realm where Mother Nature decided to showcase her finest works. Imagine waking up to the sight of snow-capped mountains casting their majestic reflection on crystal-clear waters, and being surrounding by a volcanic alpine landscape. That’s Taupo for you—a hidden gem nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island.

Lakefront Taupo

Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

Taupo, sometimes written as Taupō, is more than just a town; it’s a sanctuary of incredible natural wonder, beauty and life-giving opportunity. Sitting gracefully on the edge of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, this town offers a tapestry of experiences. From the gentle lull of the lake’s waves to the thrill of raging rapids, to the soothing embrace of thermal hot springs to the lush greenery that seems to stretch endlessly, every corner of Taupo whispers tales of nature and rejuvenation.

Planning a trip? Grab our free and comprehensive travel planner at the bottom of the article – use electrically or print it off!

How to get to, and around, Taupo

Taupo is almost at the heart of the North Island. If you’re coming from Auckland, it’s about a 3 ½ hour drive, while from Wellington, it’s roughly 4 ½ hours. So, it’s pretty central. Now, if you’re thinking of venturing to nearby spots, you’ve got the mesmerising Waitomo Caves to the west, Hamilton up north, Tauranga to the east, and the majestic Ruapehu down south—all within a two-hour drive!

And just a tip: if you’re into trout fishing or looking for a serene lakeside vibe, Tūrangi is close by with the Tongariro River, Tongariro River Trail and Lake Taupo on its fringe! Plus, the beautiful Mangakino north of Taupo. Not to mention, the iconic Tongariro Alpine Crossing, in Tongariro National Park.

For those who are flying in, Air New Zealand has daily flights between Auckland and Taupo. And if you’re coming from Wellington, Sounds Air offers 15 flights per week. Check their respective websites for schedules. For those who love a touch of luxury or just need convenience, private plane charters, be it light aircraft or helicopters, can land at Taupo Airport.

Plane flight Taupo

Prefer a bus ride? Intercity provides extensive services connecting over 600 destinations in New Zealand, including Taupo.

Once you’re in Taupo, the local bus, the Taupo Connector, is handy for zipping around the town center. Alternatively, you’ve got the option to rent a car, hop into a taxi, or shuttle, or even take a tour.

    dog, car wallpapers, pet

    When is the best time to visit Taupo

    Any time, is a good time, for a soul-restoring experience in Taupo. It all depends on what ambiance resonates with you the most.

    Spring (September to November) in Taupo feels like nature’s renewal. Temperatures range from 8˚C to 21˚C, and everything starts to come alive.

    Summer (December to February), with temperatures from 18˚C to 30˚C, promises endless fun under the sun, from early dawns to lingering sunsets, and can be a blissful experience.

    Autumn (March to May), on the other hand, is a season of reflection. As the temperatures range from 12˚C to 25˚C, it’s a perfect blend of crisp mornings and warm days.

    Lastly, Winter (June to August) transforms Taupo into a winter wonderland. With temperatures between -2˚C and 15˚C, the snow-capped mountains and azure blue skies set the stage for a cosy and serene retreat.

    Weather, rainbow, sun clouds

    Wonderful Things to do in Taupo

    There’s never a dull moment in Taupo, heres our list of things to do in Taupo, that are good for the soul!

    Unlock the Healing Power of Geothermal Hot Pools in Taupo

    The Taupo region is steeped in geothermal wonders. Picture this: You’re surrounded by the tranquil beauty of nature, with gentle geothermal pathways leading to majestic volcanic landscapes. But the pinnacle of relaxation in this volcanic wonderland? Immersing yourself in Taupo’s volcanic vitality by soaking in the warm and theraputic waters of its geothermal hot springs and pools.

    For centuries, local Māori have celebrated the healing properties of these mineral-rich waters, and visitors have been drawn to the relaxation and medicinal benefits they offer. With winter always on the horizon, there’s no better post-adventure therapy than a dip in these naturally heated pools.

      LOVE TAUPO sign on waterfront

      Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

      Now, let us walk you through some of the natural hot springs and geothermal wonders Lake Taupo offers:

      Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa

      Just north of Taupo, Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa, boasts several natural hot pools and magnificent silica terraces. The silica-rich water, naturally warm and vibrant in color, cascades over these terraces, creating a series of pools that vary in temperature. Keep in mind that all their pools are adults-only. Surrounded by rising steam and the melody of birds, it’s a truly serene experience.

          Wairakei Terraces, Taupo

          Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

          Craters of the Moon

          An out-of-this-world, geothermal park experience. Craters of the Moon is a geothermal walkway, which takes you past “steaming vents” – outlets in the earth with steam pouring from them, and bubbling mud pools.

          Different from anything you’d have done before, this place is bubbling from the earths natural heat but it is calm and leisurely. The whole family can make their way around too, with the boardwalk being suitable for both prams and wheelchairs, and takes about an hour, with a lookout along the way.

            Craters of the Moon, Taupo

            Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

            Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort

            Blissful, natural and theraputic – whats not to love? The Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort offers you soothing mineral hot springs to soak, relax your day away. Even the thought of it its making my eye twitch!

            Otumuheke Stream, Spa Thermal Park

            Here, you can soak under a waterfall, or relax in natural rock pools. Imagine warming yourself in geothermal waters while gazing at the opaque waters the Mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river.

            Not only is it totally gorgeous and rejuvenating, its totally free for the public to enjoy

            Otumuheke Stream,Taupo

            Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

            AC Baths & Thermal Hot Pools

            This spa park is an all-weather, family-friendly haven. From large outdoor pools to indoor private pools, thermal mineral pools, and even a café to warm up with a treat, they have something for everyone.

            Explore Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

            If you’re into art and culture, the Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay, Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo is a must-see! Picture this: Towering Maori rock carvings, a 14-metre high artwork, rising above Lake Taupo’s waters. It’s not just any artwork, but one of New Zealand’s most captivating contemporary Māori masterpieces.

            But, here’s the thing: you can only reach the maori rock carvings via water. Try guided scenic tours and set sail on the luxury Catamaran, “Tuia”, where you can relax onboard, and take in the peaceful surroundings. Or, perhaps you’d prefer something to get your muscles moving and lungs filled with pristine air? Take this tranquil kayak trip across the lake to the Maori Rock Carvings, where you will get to explore the shoreline, enjoy the scenic paddle, then marvel at artist Matahi Brightwell’s creation up close.

            Maori Rock Carving

            Parasailing over Lake Taupo

            If you’re after a mix of serenity and excitement, this is one of the best things to do in Taupo. Imagine soaring high, feeling the breeze, and seeing the vast expanse of the lake beneath you. It’s an experience that speaks to the soul.

            For those who are interested in this breathtaking experience, Taupo Parasail offers adventures between October to April, 7 days a week.

            Hike through the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

            For those who want to let loose and roam free, hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is in the Tongaririo National Park, is a must-do in Taupo. Imagine walking on a volcanic wonderland, spotting bright crater lakes and volcanic peaks, and breathing in views that’ll leave you speechless.

            The hike is about 19km, so it’s a bit of a challenge, but the views are totally worth it. Especially the Emerald Lakes—they’re a sight to see. Try a guided private or group tour where the excellent, professional and qualified guides will take you on an epic journey.

            Tongariro Alpine Crossing - Tongariro National Park - girl looking at Emerald Lakes-medium

            Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

            Enjoy the scenery from Taupo to Huka Falls on a mountain bike

            If you fancy some scenic cycling, this is one of the best things to do in Taupo. How amazing would it be to pedal alongside the stunning Waikato River, catching glimpses of its vibrant aquamarine waters? You’ll pass through serene native bush areas, encounter geothermal streams, and even ride amidst giant Redwood trees.

            The trail mainly has easy to intermediate sections, so it’s pretty friendly for most riders. Starting from Taupo, you can kick off at the Control Gates Bridge or Spa Park. Both have parking. If you want a shorter route, there’s a loop that begins at the Wairakei Tourist Park and takes you down to Huka Falls.

            One of the cool routes is the River Side Trail. It starts at Control Gates Bridge, and you’ll get to see spots like Cherry Island and the Riverside Reserve. If you’re more of an intermediate rider, the Rotary Ride track is great. It starts at Spa Thermal Park and it’s about 11km return to Huka Falls.

            If you’re feeling adventurous, you can extend your journey to the Aratiatia Dam. The whole loop is around 14km. And hey, if you’re up for more, you can even access the Craters Mountain Bike Park on your way.

            If you’ve done that and you’re looking for some more – check out the Great Lake Trail for several other tracks you can bike your way around!

            Mountain biking Waikato River, sun, river trail, people biking

            Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

            Up for a round of golf?

            Golfing is definitely one of the fun, relaxing, mind-off-life, things to do in Taupo, especially if you swing by during spring (Sept-Nov) when the weather’s mild and flowers bloom, or in autumn (April-June) for those vibrant colours and crisp mornings.

            With many spots like the Kinloch Club Golf Course, Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary, and the new Tieke Golf Estate, each with a different vibe and challenge, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

            Kinloch golf Club, Man playing golf

            Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

            Feel the rush of white-water rafting in the Tongariro River

            Tongariro River Rafting, is white-water rafting on the Tongariro River and is a must-try activity in Lake Taupo. Tongariro River Rafting takes you on rapids that are graded as Level 3, offering an exciting adventure suitable for both seasoned rafters, and first-timers.

            As you navigate the river’s twists and turns, you’ll get to explore hidden areas of pristine wilderness that are only accessible by raft. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might even spot the endangered Whio, also known as the Blue Duck, in its natural habitat.

            white water rafting tongariro river rafting turangi

            Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

            Kayaking on the Waikato and Kuratau Rivers

            Kayaking down the Waikato River is not just one of the best things to do in Taupo; it’s an intimate journey with nature itself. Take a guided tour that drifts through calm, crystal-clear waters. Your surroundings? Breathtaking cliff faces, lush forests, and intriguing wildlife.

            Plus, you get to kayak beneath Taupo bungy jumping platform, where you might witness someone taking a thrilling leap into the water. Towards the end of the tour, there’s a stop at a natural hot spring. Locals and tourists alike, treasure this spot for its soothing qualities. Take a soak and let the warmth wash away any lingering stress. Finally, your kayaking adventure concludes at Reid’s Farm, where you can relax with some refreshments.

            Or, give hiring a kayak a go, and make your way down the Kuratau River.

            Kayaking the Kuratau River, southern Lake Taupo

            Image credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō

            Cruise in style with Doughboats

            Doughboats offer an experience like no other, making it one of the absolute must-do things in Taupo. Doughboats offer an eco-friendly ride with a difference—a serene floating lounge complete with multi-coloured lights and Bluetooth speakers. With an almost silent electric engine, you can enjoy your favorite tunes via onboard Bluetooth speakers as you glide along.

            Gather your group of up to six people, and nominate your captain. Then, step aboard these delightful Doughboats. Rental sessions last for two blissful hours, and for an even more enchanting experience, consider booking an evening session. Multi-coloured lights illuminate your cruise, creating a magical atmosphere on the water.

            Take a stroll along the Rangatira Point Walking Track

            The best things to do in Taupo? They’re about peace. The Rangatira Point walking track offers you just that, in an exceptionally scenic package. What sets this walk apart are the large, flat rocks that line the route. They serve as perfect platforms for leaping into the pristine blue waters of the lake.

            But here’s the kicker: those rocks are natural warmers. Step out of the water, lie down, and let nature do the work. It’s a gentle, grounding embrace only Mother Earth could offer. And believe me, you’ll feel your worries melt away!

            Stand-up paddle boarding on Lake Taupo

            Lake Taupo: The calm waters are more than inviting; they’re therapeutic. Stand-up paddle boarding here isn’t just a sport; it’s a floating relaxation session. The calm waters of the stunning Lake Taupo, paired with the region’s stunning summer weather, create an idyllic setting for this experience.

            As you paddle through the lake, the world slows down a bit, letting you soak in every beautiful detail. It’s one of those things to do in Taupo that not only elevates your heart rate, but also your spirit.

            Wrap-up!

            There you have it, a glimpse of the incredible things to do in Taupo. It’s not just about activities; it’s about finding yourself amidst nature’s embrace, seeking solace in the serene landscapes, and experiencing wellness in every sense of the word.

            Whether you wish to relax in soothing geothermal waters, soar high above the sky while parasailing, sail across Lake Taupo to discover hidden treasures or embark on thrilling white-water rafting adventures, Lake Taupo won’t disappoint you.

            So, who’s ready to embark on a journey of wellness, adventure, and self-discovery amidst the breathtaking natural beauty of Lake Taupo?

            Mount Tohara

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