The town of Taupo is a convenient base for exploring central North Island. On a three day trip, you can get to know the town and also explore a bit further afield and enjoy an exciting adventure sport, visit a geothermal park, and hike through unbelievable landscapes. Here are a few things to do in and around Taupo on a 3-day visit.
Day 1: Adrenaline-Filled Adventures
With snow-capped mountains, an enormous lake, and several rivers nearby, Taupo is a hub for all kinds of outdoor adventures. Whatever kind of thrill you’re into, it’s probably possible here.
On your first day, you can dive into a variety of adventures: Rent a kayak for a gentle paddle on Lake Taupo or ride around it on a bike; bounce along rapids on a white-water rafting trip; zoom up a river on a jet boat; jump out of an airplane on a tandem skydive; or go on a sightseeing helicopter tour. You’ll get your blood flowing and also see some beautiful landscapes along the way. In the evening, unwind with a sunset cruise on the lake; some include dinner and drinks. Alternatively, save your appetite for a burger and a few beers at one of Taupo’s traveler-centric downtown bars.
Day 2: Geothermal Wonders
Much of New Zealand is volcanically active, and Taupo is surrounded by a variety of geothermal sites. Visit the area’s bubbling mud pools, steaming natural vents, and springs of simmering water that is so hot you could boil an egg in it (and then some). There are several parks just outside the city where you see the thermal sites from boardwalks, learn about the science behind them, and discover how local Maori people have harnessed their natural heat and power for centuries. Opt for Orakei Korako Geothermal Park, and you can also take a short boat ride to colorful, steaming thermal terraces.
After sightseeing, experience a different side of this natural phenomenon back in town. Head to the Spa Thermal Park or DeBretts Spa Resort, and spend the late afternoon or early evening enjoying a relaxing soak in a bath fed with geothermally-heated water.
Day 3: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Active travelers won’t want to miss the chance to hike the nearby Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is often called one of the best day hikes in the world. Opt for a guided tour that drives you from Taupo to the trailhead (a roughly 90-minute trip) and then picks you up at the other end of the trail. The hike itself is about 12 miles (19.4 km) long, crosses a volcanic plateau, and rewards trekkers with a moon-like landscape, bright turquoise sulfurous lakes, forests, and sweeping views of several mountains. It’s a moderately challenging trek with steep sections, and weather conditions can change rapidly, so make sure you’re properly prepared.
Alternatively, opt for a gentler, family-friendly walk along the Great Lake Walkway on the shores of Lake Taupo. The trip offers great views of the volcanic peaks and is another spectacular way to end your adventures in Taupo.