In the middle of the North Island, Taupō township sits on the north-eastern shore of massive Lake Taupō. Although it may look like you’re on the shores of an ocean inlet, the lake (often said to be about the size of Singapore) is freshwater and is a prime spot for water-skiing, sailing, fishing and kayaking. Taupō is conveniently located close to the main North Island ski areas and the world-famous Tongariro Crossing, and the surrounding area offers excellent hiking and mountain biking.
While some people may have trouble pronouncing Taupō, you don’t need to worry because here’s a quick primer: Taupō is pronounced Tow Paw. The lake’s full Maori name is Taupō-nui-a-Tia (the rain cloak of Tia). Tia was was an early Maori chief and one of the great explorers of the Taupō area, and the name originally referred to cliffs that resembled his cloak.
New Zealand’s largest lake is New Zealand’s largest volcano!
Don’t be alarmed, but Lake Taupo lies in the caldera of an active supervolcano, which has been active for around 1.6 million years! But not very active recently!
Radiocarbon dating suggests that the most recent eruption of Taupo was around 230 AD, when a vent in the volcano erupted with such force that it not only buried the North Island in volcanic debris, but covered the Chatham Islands, 1000 km away with a layer of ash 18 cm deep! The supervolcano then collapsed into the caldera that it is today.
powered by nature
Nowadays, the energy beneath the lake is harnessed for geothermal energy that powers the local region. You may see evidence of the geothermal forces as you travel around Taupo: plumes of clear white steam can be seen on the lakefront and near the streams that empty the lake, and the 193km shoreline has a constantly replenished supply of pumice – great for exfoliating rough skin! If you get a swim in the lake, you may notice warm, geothermal water currents.
Don’t worry, if it weren’t safe to visit, we wouldn’t have our very own upmarket backpacker lodge in Taupo!
SEVEN GREAT TAUPO VIEWS TO CAPTURE ON CAMERA:
A group shot next to the LOVETAUPO sign on the waterfront is a Haka Tours must-do!
Get on the water for a scenic cruise out to the impressive Maori rock carvings which can only be viewed from the water at Mine Bay.
Nearby Huka Falls is part of the Waikato River that drains this largest body of freshwater in Oceania. Here – either by footbridge or by jetboat tour – you can see (and hear) more than 220,000 litres of water per second thundering over an 11-metre high waterfall
Get a snap of you doing a water touch bungy jump off the cliffs of Waikato River Valley. Yeah!
From the 1088m summit of Mt Tauhara above the town you can see much of the supervolcano / lake’s 616 sq km surface area.
In winter, the view across the lake to the snowy summits of Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park is seriously photogenic.
Extreme photo challenge: get a selfie as you skydive above the supervolcano!
Photo Credits: Love Taupō
Tours including Taupō
North Island Adventure Tour
Enjoy adventure activities, incredible scenery and fascinating Māori culture as we show you the highlights between Auckland to Wellington.View tour
An unrushed exploration of the North Island’s top attractions including the Coromandel, Tongariro National Park, Rotorua & Wellington.View tour
North Island Trail Hunter MTB Tour
Ride the North Island’s best white-knuckle downhills & single-track flows including the MTB wonderland of Whakarewarewa Forest.View tour
Amplified NZ Tour
Discover the best of the North and South Island. Tours run from Auckland to Christchurch, or Christchurch to Auckland.View tour
A sample platter of North and the South Island highlights including the Coromandel, Tongariro, Rotorua, Kaikoura & Christchurch.View tour
NZ MTB Dreamer Tour
Saddle up for the best NZ MTB tour! Ride Rotorua's Redwood Forest, exhilarating Wanaka & Queenstown + backcountry & private trails.View tour
Legendary NZ Tour
Our Legendary Tour lives up to its name, with stupendous scenery, bucket loads of adventure and eye-opening cultural experiences.View tour
Epic NZ Tour
Discover more of NZ than most New Zealanders, as you thoroughly explore the best of both the North and South Islands.View tour
New Zealand Uncovered
Uncover all the beauty, adventure, culture and fun activities of New Zealand and tick practically everything off your bucket list.View tour
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