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Lake Taupo Area Guide

Storm breaking over Motutaiko Island
in lake Taupo - ©
Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, is in the heart of the North Island, three hours' drive south of Auckland and four hours north of Wellington. The huge 619 square kilometre lake was created by a series of massive volcanic eruptions, including one in 181 AD which blackened the sky in China and caused blood-red sunsets in Rome. The pumice stones which lie scattered around the lakeshore, and the steam and boiling mud pools at the geothermal areas north of Taupo, are a reminder of the lake's violent past.

The drive up state highway 1 from the southern edge of the lake to the busy resort town of Taupo at the north eastern tip is a good introduction to the lake's charms. The small lakeside settlements of Motuoapa, Te Rangiita, Motutere Bay, Hatepe, and Waitahanui are popular for boating, fishing and swimming. In Taupo, the Visitor Centre will take bookings for cruises on the lake - choose from all manner of watercraft, from the 1926 ocean-going yacht once owned by actor Errol Flynn, to steamboats or more modern motorboats, or explore independently by hiring a kayak, sailboat, or motorboat.

The lake has long been a popular summer holiday destination for fishing and boating holidays, and is one of the best places in the country for trout fishing - either in the lake itself, or on one of the 47 streams and rivers flowing into it. The area also attracts its fair share of adrenaline junkies, who can bungy jump, skydive, parasail, and jetboat here to their heart's content.

In winter, Taupo is a short drive from the ski fields of the central plateau, and in milder seasons the area plays host to extreme sports events, including the New Zealand Ironman Triathlon event in March, when athletes compete in a lake swim, bike ride and 42-kilometre run. In November, the lake is thronged with cyclists participating in the annual Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, a 160-kilometre cycle ride around the lake.

Outside Taupo, visit the awe-inspiring Huka Falls, a five kilometre drive north of town, and watch the entire contents of the Waikato River - the lake's only outlet - plunge over a narrow ledge. Off the other side of state highway 1, turn off on Karapiti Road to visit the Craters of the Moon geothermal area where a one-hour loop walking track crosses sizzling and bubbling craters, mud pools and steam vents.


Huka Falls (10)
Taupo (149)
Turangi (6)


Destination Lake Taupo

Official guide to the Lake Taupo area, including information about accommodation, activities, food and drink, and events.