Whenever Taupo is mentioned the mind conjures up images of snow-capped peaks framing the picturesque image of New Zealand’s largest lake. But while the scenery is to die for, it’s not just the landscape that makes Taupo special. Local reporter Libby O’Brien has spent her life in the lakeside town and has an intricate knowledge of how to pack a day full of outdoor activity into your visit to Taupo.
0800: You’re awake, you’re hungry. Head to Replete Café on Heuheu St for your choice of breakfast delights to kick-start your day. Grab a seat outside and watch the town quietly come to life.
0845: Head south and up the Napier Taupo Rd (SH5) and turn left into Mountain Rd not too far after the roundabout. Park up and follow the signs across farmland to make your way up Mt Tauhara (1088 m). Once at the top enjoy the panoramic views of the Central Plateau. If you have time, head along the top ridge to some rock formations for an even better view.
1200: Drive east to the hill above Acacia Bay and stop in at L’Arte cafe and mosaic garden for something a little different for lunch.
1400: Ready to work off your lunch? Grab your bike and head out on the Craters of the Moon mountain bike tracks. Discover dozens of tracks from grade two to six and ride amongst steaming earth and pine plantations. You even get more of those great views down to Tongariro National Park on a good day and on not-so-good days will get to take in the magic of the geothermal wonderland these trails are built on.
1730: Head to Jolly Good Fellows English pub for a beer overlooking Lake Taupo and start planning your next adventure.
Find your way to Spa Park (head north along Tongariro St and turn up Spa Road. Look out for signs after Taupo Bungy) and head down the hill from the car park to the start of the Huka Falls walkway where you can take the scenic route to the famous falls. It’s a moderate two hour return trip suitable for the whole family or if you’re feeling up to it continue on to the Aratiatia Rapids. (Four hours return.) On your way back to the car join the locals in the natural hot water stream for a soak.
Make the most of Lake Taupo by hiring (or bringing your own) kayak from Canoe and Kayak on Spa Road. Starting from Acacia Bay, set out onto the flat waters and follow the bays around until you cast your eyes on the Mine Bay rock carvings. Stop for a swim and chat to the boaties in summer or head back to Acacia Bay once your arms start to feel the pinch.