Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake, located in the center of the country’s North Island. Taupo is the main tourist town, situated on the northwestern shores of Lake Taupo.
Taupo is a popular tourist destination in the summer, known for its abundance of outdoor, adventure, and water activities. People flock to the lake to swim, jet-ski, kayak, and fish. It’s also a popular place for sky-diving.
While Taupo is considered a “year-round playground”, in the off-season it can be a bit quiet. The town feels empty in the early winter months (June and July), and rain leaves many water activities off-limits.
However, traveling somewhere in the off-season comes with many perks: lower prices, easier booking, no crowds, and a relaxed and quiet atmosphere. Visiting Taupo in the summer is recommended if you want to spend a lot of time out on the water, but visiting in the off-season can still be a lot of fun!
The town of Taupo is an easy one-hour drive from Rotorua, another major tourist destination to the north. From Auckland, it’s just a few hours on the road or a short flight. It’s easy to get to Taupo using public transportation, with buses arriving daily from multiple destinations.
Walk Along the Lakefront
Even in the winter, walking along the lake is a must do. Start near the Yacht Club just across from the Tongariro Domain. A footpath runs parallel to Lake Terrace Road, eventually taking you to Whakarewa Point and beyond.
Enjoy the Cafes
Taupo has tons of great little cafes in town. I found myself visiting a new one every day to grab a chai latte and indulge in a few delicious meals. Cafes are a fun place to pass the time when it’s cold outside. My favorite cafes in Taupo are Kefi and Salute.
Stay At Haka Lodge
Haka Lodge Taupo is a “flashpackers” style hostel located just a few blocks from town. It’s a small, intimate, well-designed property with affordable accommodation. The private rooms are cozy and the dorm rooms have uniquely-designed bunk beds that offer plenty of privacy and comfort.
Walk to Huka Falls
If you’re in Taupo on a fine day, be sure to take the walk to Huka Falls. Starting in town or at the Spa Thermal Park, you can follow a path out to the beautiful falls along the Waikato River. It only takes a couple of hours return.
Check Out the Taupo Museum
The Taupo Museum is the perfect place to visit when you’re hit with bad weather in the off-season. While the museum is small, it’s filled with exhibits about the town and surrounding region. There is also an art gallery the features local artists. For just $5, it’s an easy way to spend a few hours.
See the Street Art
There are tons of murals around the town of Taupo. Take yourself on a self-guided street art tour while you’re here. Grab a map from the I-Site and take your time wandering the streets and admiring the artwork.
If You Have a Car
Be sure to venture outside of town. While many people stay in Rotorua to see the major attractions in the valley (such as Wai-O-Tapu), Taupo is a great base for day trips. There are tons of thermal parks and natural wonders in the area, but I would particularly suggest visiting Craters of the Moon and Orakei Korako.
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