Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, at over 230 square miles (596 square kilometers). Formed by a prehistoric supervolcanic eruption, the lake now sits in the volcano’s dormant caldera. Walk the pristine shores of this natural taonga (treasure), kayak or waterski, or enjoy the trout fishing for which the lake is famous.
This massive lake is calm and picturesque—the perfect landscape for relaxing with friends and family. You can kick back at Acacia Bay, or avoid the crowds and head across the lake to quieter Dog Beach and Fish Beach. There’s plenty for adventurous travelers to do as well. The 6-mile (10-kilometer) Great Lake Walkway is a popular walking and cycling route, from Taupo Harbour to the end of Five Mile Bay. Swimming and kayaking are big here too, plus tour operators all around the lake offer jet boating, windsurfing, skydiving, bungee jumping, and other adventure sports. No matter your activity, you won’t help but notice the geothermal activity—there are giant steam plumes all over the place.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lake Taupo is a must for outdoor enthusiasts and waterbabies.
- Accommodation is available all around the lake: backpackers might want to look into holiday parks at the lake’s south end, while families and others should head to Taupo, a town at the lake’s northern tip.
- Other attractions in the area include nearby Huka Falls and the Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park, which gets you up close and personal to Taupo’s geothermal activity.
- If you fancy fishing, you can enter the Lake Taupo International Trout Fishing Tournament, which happens each year on April 25.
How to Get There
Lake Taupo is located in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Rotorua, about an hour’s drive away. From Auckland or Wellington, you can catch a daily flight to the town of Taupo, or drive along State Highway 1.
When to Get There
Lake Taupo and its surroundings are beautiful at any time of year. If you’re interested in getting on or in the water, summer is the best time to visit—though it’s also the lake’s busiest time, as it’s a popular New Year destination. Try visiting in November or February, when the beaches are less crowded.
Cruise Around Lake Taupo
If you’re looking to relax in style, take a cruise around the lake. These boat trips often include a visit to Mine Bay, where Maori Master Carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell carved a series of towering sculptures into the rock, each one telling a story about the local iwi (tribe) and their ancestors.