Things to do - top ten activities in Taupo
Whether it's action and adventure on land, water or air, outdoors hiking or MTB, relaxing, crusing or just soaking up the culture, Taupo has something for everyone. If travelling with children check out our things to do with kids in Taupo page too.
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Discounts in Taupo when staying at Riverside Apartment View special deals
Guests of Riverside Apartment qualify for some special deals and discounted rates from several local tourist operators and hospitality providers. Take our business card along when you book to enjoy the savings.
Taupo - the events capital of NZ
Taupo is famous for the number and quality of events held in this remarkable town. Check out what's on while you're in Taupo. For activities that are not calendar-based, read on...
Cultural sights and geothermal attractions
Take a boat cruise or paddle our kayaks (if you're feeling more adventurous) to Mine Bay, where 10 metre-high maori rock carvings can be viewed only from the water. If you would rather go as part of a group, you can book a kayak tour.
Taupo's rich geothermal environment provides a wide array of amazing sights and most attractions are within easy reach of Riverside Apartment - mud pools, the beautifully coloured silica terraces of 'the hidden valley' (Orakei Korako) and the famous 'craters of the moon' and are all close to Taupo. A little over half an hour's drive from Riverside Apartment is the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area, wonderland described as 'one of the 20 most surreal places in the world'.
Taupo spas and hot pools
Wairakei Terraces spa treatments and hot pools are wonderfully relaxing ways to end an activity-packed day. The hot pools soothe those aching muscles and as entry is limited to those 14 years and over, you won't find a more tranquil experience this close to the apartment. If hydroslides for the kids are more your thing but you would still like a peaceful spa-like environment, DeBretts Spa Resort is perfect. Multiple pools of varying temperatures, private spas - and yes, the slides for the kids (or young at hears) are all available. For a more swimming-orientated dip, try the amazing AC Baths and hot pools only five minutes drive from the apartment. The AC Baths also have hydroslides but also conventional slides and rope-swings for the slightly younger kids.
Lake Taupo's trout fishing is second-to-none. Fly fish from the river banks directly in front of the apartment (spin fishing is also permitted in parts of the Waikato River) and you could be eating the freshest trout you've ever tasted, cooked in our beautifully appointed kitchen. Lake fishing is possible from our kayaks or there are several tourist operators that offer fishing day trips and packages. Please remember that a valid Taupo area fishing licence is required to fish for trout - these can be purchased from any of the fishing shops in Taupo township.
Water sports, lake and river activities
The size of Singapore, the freshwater 'inland sea' of Lake Taupo invites water skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, jet skiing and wakeboarding. An aerial view of the lake can be seen from helicopter or float plane, or for a lake-level view take a cruise.
Normally water and golf don't mix well, but in Taupo you can try your luck with perhaps the world's only 'floating golf green' - a lakefront hole in one 9-iron pitch from the lakeshore!
On a more sedate note, float the Waikato River in one of Riverside Apartment's free kayaks, or alternatively, with an organised Waikato River float tour. It's a wonderfully relaxing way to view the beautiful Waikato River from just below the flow-control bridge to Reid's Park Farm. From the water you can check out the adventurous taking the leap at Taupo bungy - and then take a warm swim where the thermal waters of the Otumuheke Stream merges with the Waikato River.
If that doesn't satisfy the hard-core adventurer, get on board the Rapids Jet at Aratiatia or try some of the best white water rafting in the world on the Tongariro river with Tongariro River Rafting.
Taupō Bungy & Swing
Want that adrenaline kick and take in some of the best views of the Waikato River at the same time? Try the AJ Hackett Taupō bungy and jump from NZ's highest water touch bungy jump platform. They offer solo, tandem and body harness jumps; staying high and dry or getting wet in the river; as well as various jump styles to choose from. If bungy is just a little too much, then the swing could be for you. Freefall solo or tandem, reach speeds of 70 km/hr as you drop towards the river below before swooping up again. Enjoy the stunning views as you make your way back to the top - and it's heaps of fun for all the family!
Hiking and walking
Taking a lakeside stroll or a walk through the bush surrounding the lake are excellent ways to appreciate the plethora of native flora and fauna of the area. For a shorter journey, a few minutes walk into the domain across the river will yield wonderful views of the marina and on a clear day, the mountainous central plateau (you'll also find great coffee at 'Stir' cafe at the Taupo marina. For the more adventurous - the famous Tongariro crossing provides stunning vistas of the North Island's 'central plateau' and it is widely regarded as one of the best one-day walks in the world. If you would like to turn this into a multi-day hike then the Tongariro Circuit is one of the few North Island 'Great Walks'. Ancient rain forests await in nearby Whirinaki and Pureora Forest Parks. If you'd prefer a more causual stroll, cross the river at the nearby flow-control bridge and in only a few minutes you can wander the riverside paths of the domain. For a longer walk, turn left (cross the road at the bridge) and the path will take you towards the Huka Falls. This pleasant riverside walk takes you past The Otumuheke Hot Stream in Taupo's Spa Park - a wonderful place for a swim. A recent upgrade has seen terraced seating, changing rooms and toilet and a viewing platform added. If you'd prefer a walk with more verticality then consider climbing to the top of Mount Tauhara for some spectaular lake views.
One of the finest walks in the Waikato region would have to be the Waikato River Trail, covering a massive 103km from start to finish. Beginning at Atiamuri, just 40km north of Taupo on State Highway 1, the trail-head has a carpark that you can leave your vehicle at to wander the banks of the Waikato River. The first section of this trail is a lovely, dry and easy walk along the eastern bank of the river and you will love the views, solitude and peace of this taonga or 'treasure' - a true gem of our country.
Cycling and mountain biking
Probably the best known of Taupo's bike trails is the Great Lake Trail that follows the western shore of Lake Taupo from Waihaha to Whakaipo Bay. The incredible 71km trail is able to be ridden year-round and in all climactic conditions as the pumice soil surface drains quickly in wet weather. Dramatic views across the lake to the Tongariro National Park are best seen riding the trail from west to east. Depending upon your level of fitness (and stamina!) shorter riding options are possible, or for the experienced riders the full trail can be ridden in 2-3 days.
Also of epic proportion is the Waikato River Trails (or 'Taniwha') that runs from Atiamuri and snakes 102km northward to end at the Pokaiwhenua Bridge, near Karapiro. Broken into five sections the trails are graded from Easy/Intermediate to Advanced. These trails can also be hiked, or run for the (probably) insane.
Other trails include a ride from the Huka Falls to the Aratiatia Dam and for a family-friendly Grade 1 path try the Lions Trail from the Two-Mile Bay boat ramp that follows the eastern side of the lake.
Two 18-hole courses are available at the Taupo Golf Club. Visitors are welcome to these courses set in a park-like environment close to Mt Tauhara and near to the area's characteristic thermal activity.
The Kinloch Club, designed by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus is (to quote Sir Bob Charles) 'the number one golf course in New Zealand'. For more information, visit the Kinloch Club website.
Another fine course and voted 'New Zealand's Number One Golf Course' by NZ Golf Magazine can be found in nearby Wairakei.
The Huka Falls
The incredible Huka Falls are New Zealand's most visited tourist attraction and they can be viewed from land-based platforms or from the river courtesy of Hukafalls jet. The Waikato river narrows to only 15 metres and a series of waterfalls culminates in a spectacular 11 metre final drop that ejects over 200,000 litres of water every second. Hukafalls Jet offers an exhiliarating half-hour of spins and turns and the boat passes breath-takingly close to sheer rockfaces.
The Aratiatia Rapids and Rapids Jet
A few kilometres away (northbound on State Highway 5 in the direction of Rotorua) you will find the turn-off for the Aratiatia Rapids. Every day at 10am, midday and 2pm the floodgates of the Aratiatia Dam open, filling a huge basin which overflows through the narrow gorge below, forming the Aratiatia Rapids. There are several viewing areas available by short walk to view this amazing site.
Need more adrenaline? Experience New Zealand's only white-water jet boat experience at Rapids Jet, located just a few kilometres past the Aratiatia Dam.
The Tongariro Crossing, Northern Circuit, central plateau and mountains
Drive south through Turangi and the terrain rises gently to the North Island's central 'desert' and mountains that famously appeared in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mt Ruapehu is the highest peak in the North Island and rises to 2,797 metres above sea level. Between the three major peaks of 'Tahurangi', 'Te Heuheu' and 'Paretetaitonga' lies a spectacular acidic crater lake, fed by the melting snow.
The incredible Tongariro crossing is rated as one of the best one-day walks in the world and should not be missed. We've even made a video about the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with kids which shows you some of the terrain and challenges that it involves - please plan this carefully if you are taking younger ones for this journey, it is a 19.4km alpine crossing and should not be taken lightly and without a reasonable level of fitness. For an even bigger adventure, and one of New Zealand's Great Walks, try the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
Scenic chairlift rides are available during summer except on Christmas Day (weather conditions permitting). Two lifts rise over the stunning volcanic terrain and ancient lava flows to an altitude of 2,020 metres above sea level.
Tongariro River Rafting
The #1-ranked white water rafting experience can be found on the beautiful Tongariro River with Tongariro River Rafting. Offering exhilarating white water rafting (best for anyone over the age of 10) or family rafting (for those with kids between 3 and 10 years old). They also offer mountain bike hire so you can hit the Tongariro River Trail to round out the perfect action-packed day!
More information and bookings available at the Tongariro River Rafting website or call them free on 0800 10 10 24.
Mt Ruapehu has two main commercial ski fields, Whakapapa on the northern side and Turoa on the southern slopes. Ski both fields on the one lift pass and see what this winter wonderland has to offer. Great snow-filled basins, amazing powder caches and steep chutes and dropoffs. Beginner packages are available for the kids (or the not-so-confident big people).
On the eastern side of the mountain lies the Tukino club field which is also open to the public.
More information, updates, snow and ski reports are available from Snow HQ.
With more than 30,000 jumps a year it is no surprise that Taupo is often called the skydiving capital of the world. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix with Taupo Tandem Skydiving or Skydive Taupo - both operating from Taupo's airport on the eastern side of the lake, about fifteen minutes drive from our apartment. Mention that you are staying at 'Riverside Apartment' when booking with Taupo Tandem Skydiving and receive a 5% discount.
Wine and vineyards
For a more sedate way to spend your Taupo holiday, wine enthusiasts will discover that Taupo's emerging vineyards are a must do. The climactic combination of high altitude, cool temperatures are a perfect match for the area's free-draining pumice and gravel-based soil.
Omori Estate is a lake edge vineyard on the south-western corner of Lake Taupo by the Omori stream.
Kid friendly and family activities
Need some help to find some entertainment for the kids? Check out our things to do with kids webpage for some local top tips.
More information and activities
For more information about what to do in the Great Lake Taupo region, please visit the Official Great Lake Taupo Visitor Information website.Please note that Riverside Apartment will attempt to keep the information and events listings featured in this website up to date, but takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained within. Users of this information are encouraged to seek independent confirmation of dates, times, locations and other facts