Just over three hours drive south from our Auckland Airport vehicle rental is Taupo. Situated on the northern edge of Lake Taupo, this small town has a big offering. Whether you’re into hiking, sailing, chilling in hot springs or jumping out of planes,Taupo has something for every interest.

Taupo’s lake, the town’s defining feature, is the biggest in Australasia, formed following a volcanic eruption in 186 AD. It’s roughly the same size as Singapore and reaches depths of 186 metres.

Here are our top five Taupo experiences. 

1) Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Mount Ruapehu

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is regularly billed as New Zealand’s best day walk. The 19.5 kilometre hike takes you up to 1,700 metres above sea level and affords fantastic views of Lake Taupo and beyond. Up top you’ll get a close up view of its three volcanic lakes – known for their unique emerald and bright blue colours. 

In the winter season only experienced mountain hikers should tackle the crossing, but the ski season kicks off on Mount Ruapehu for those who can’t complete the crossing. A scenic chair lift takes you to the top for spectacular views and you can ski on the lower slopes.

2) Maori rock carvings

Originally carved in the 1970s, these detailed works of art stand up to ten metres above the lake and are only accessible by boat. They depict the story of a Maori explorer and are best seen up close in a kayak, or on one of the lake’s scenic boat trips. Choose to go during the day or in time for sunset.

There are also fishing trips both on the Lake and into the nearby Tongariro river.

3) Geysers and sulphur steam

Right in the heart of geothermal activity, Taupo offers a selection of adventures for those interested in the natural phenomenon.Orakei Korako is less than 30 minutes drive north and offers a walkway taking in geysers that explode without warning and silica terraces only accessible via boat.

Crater of the Moon is another attraction close by that’s so full of natural steamy vents it looks continuously misty. A wooden boardwalk keeps you on track and there’s a further lookout if you want an aerial view.

4) Natural hot pools

Once again, you have plenty of options for natural hot pools in this region of New Zealand. Wairakei Terraces is a local favourite, where you can bathe in the warmed water under a natural silica terrace or take a walk around the steam vents. 

Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort provides a more family friendly experience with slides and a couple of different pools, as well as plenty of amenities like lockers – all attached to the camp site.

For a truly natural option, try a dip in Otumuheke Stream Spa Park, taking advantage of a spot where hot and cold waters meet. 

5) Taupo Bungy and skydiving

Take your pick of four different heights and jump out of a plane at 9,000 ft, 12,000 ft, 15,000 ft or 18,500 ft according to how long your fancy free falling for. The views here are spectacular, with mountains, lakes and plenty of New Zealand greenery – if you can remember to take in the view during your Taupo skydive!

If you like to get your adrenalin rush a little closer to the ground, try the Taupo Bungy over the might Waikato River. Go solo or tandem, and catapult 47 metres from the cliff-top platform.

Book your hire car today and get your New Zealand road trip underway.