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Exploring New Zealand

Taupo Area Guide

Bungy Jumper high (47m) above
the Waikato River. Taupo Bungy.
The resort town of Taupo is draped around the north-eastern corner of New Zealand's largest lake, the placid Lake Taupo. The town's main street, Lake Terrace, follows the curve of the lake before veering north and heading out of town as Tongariro Street, and then becoming state highway 1. Most of the cafes and bars are located in and around the main street, with the Visitor Centre on Tongariro Street near the boat harbour.

Taupo is the centre for bookings for a whole raft of adventure activities, including bungy jumping, rafting, jetboating and parasailing. Its great scenery - the clear waters of the lake, and views south to the three volcanoes of the central plateau - has made it a popular centre for skydiving, but scenic flights in helicopters, floatplanes or small aircraft offer an alternative way of seeing this beautiful aerial panorama.

A visit to Taupo would not be complete without time spent on the lake simply boating or fishing. The Visitor Centre will help with information on lake cruises - most operators offer trips out to see the modern Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, which are only visible from the water - or there are sailboats, kayaks and motorboats available for hire. There are plenty of fishing guides available to conduct fishing trips on the lake or on the rivers feeding into it.

If you need a soak after all the activity, there are hot mineral baths on tap at the Taupo Hot Springs Spa, and the A.C. Baths at the Taupo Events Centre.

When the pleasures of the outdoors begin to pall, the Lake Taupo Museum and Art Gallery is well worth a visit to see the magnificent Reid carvings, the work of master Maori carver Tene Waitere. The museum also has exhibits on Taupo's volcanic origins and on the fishing which is such an integral part of life on the lake.

There are many good walking tracks in the area, but to explore a little of the lake shore, take the walkway from the Taupo lakefront to Five Mile Bay, a flat walk along lake shore reserves with picnic and swimming spots and a hot-water beach along the way.