Turangi to Taupo

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Lake view and widlife

Turangi to Taupo

As you head north on SH1 from Turangi to Taupo, look out for roads off to the left as they will take you down to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand. Lake Taupo was once the site of a huge volcanic explosion and the lake is in the volcanic crater.

2 Mile Bay Lake Taupo2 Mile Bay Lake Taupo

Initially you only get glimpses of the lake through the native bush but soon you are driving right next to the lake and the views are magnificent. Looking back to the south, you are rewarded with fantastic views of the volcanic plateau mountains.

See and Do

  • Stop at the rest area at Mission Bay and have a picnic and a swim - swimming in Lake Taupo is fantastic and highly recommended
  • Take a bush walk in Motutere Scenic Reserve
  • Have a picnic at Rainbow Point Reserve - look out for the lookout signs near the airport. There are lots of picnic tables and the view across the lake to the mountains definitely deserves a photo
  • Hire a boat at 2 Mile Bay (2 miles south of Taupo township!) and have some fun on the lake

Eat and Drink

  • Have a snack at the Licorice Cafe at Motuoapa

Stop Awhile

  • Stay at the Motuoapa Motor Camp which is at the southern end of Lake Taupo and has boat access
  • Stay at Motutere Bay Holiday Park - this is the only motor camp to be right on the shores of the lake. There is boat access and and there are facilities for fish cleaning and smoking
  • There are lots of places along the lake that you can stop for refreshments but freedom camping on Lake Taupo is limited, so make sure you don't camp where it is prohibited

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Taupo

Lake TaupoLake Taupo

Taupo is a large township with all the usual amenities as well as great cafes. A detour into the township is worth your while especially if you want a meal.

There are so many activities around Taupo that you won't be disappointed if you choose to stay here. Not only are there the water activities associated with the lake but there are fantastic walks and mountain biking tracks as well. Visit the iSite to get all the details.

Don't leave Taupo without visiting the Huka Falls - they are really beautiful and there are lots of activities nearby as well.

There are also some cultural packages of concerts and hangi (traditional Maori cooking where food is cooked underground on hot stones - food is delicious) and if you have not had a cultural experience then this is worthwhile.



See and Do

  • Have a barbecue on the beach at Taupo township or lounge around on the beach
  • Check out the water sport activities available on the lake front, including parasailing
  • Visit the Huka Falls - turn right as you head out of town on SH1. There is dedicated parking at the Falls for campervans. There are short walks (10 minutes) as well as longer walks (1 or 2 hours) around the Falls. You can even walk up to the Hub cafe (it's about a 20-30 minute walk uphill through bush - it's not a hard walk if you have walking shoes)
  • Jet boating and helicopter rides over the falls are available at the Hub Cafe at the top of the hill above Huka Falls- you can walk through the bush from the Falls carpark or drive up
  • Visit the Craters of the Moon and go on the 1 hour thermal walk - there is an entrance fee. If you are not going to view any other thermal activity, then this is worthwhile
  • Take a walk in the Wairakei Thermal Valley - the road in is unsealed although not difficult but it may put some people off so may be less busy than some other walks
  • Have a guided night walk in Puroera Forest followed by a thermal spa

Eat and Drink

  • Have a meal at the Lava Rock cafe in Taupo township
  • Have a meal at the Hub Cafe at the top of Huka Falls Rd
  • Have a Devonshire Tea at the cafe in the Wairakei Thermal Valley - the road in is unsealed but not a difficult road and it's a pretty area

Stop Awhile

  • Stay at the De Bretts Spa Resort - this is on the Taupo-Napier highway and has great facilities and great views of the lake. Relax in the thermal pools
  • Lake Taupo Top 10 Holiday Park - this is not on the lake but in a park setting. There are excellent facilities especially for children
  • Reids Farm is a free camping area between November and June. It is situated near the river on the road to the Huka Falls.

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Huka FallsHuka Falls

"lazy" drive, we would recommend this route which seems to be more remote and away from hustle and bustle. You can then turn right onto SH32 and head back to Tokoroa .

The landscape leaving Taupo to Auckland is still lush undulating hills and farmland and very pretty. The roads are relatively good with lots of passing bays. As you get into Waikato there is more lush farmland with surrounding hills and forests. If it's a sunny day, the colours will be vivid - the sky so blue and the trees so green. It is stunning.

You can also take the Old Taupo Road just before Tokoroa if you want to keep up that "I'm alone in the wilderness" feeling and that will bypass Tokoroa and bring you up along the Waikato river towards Lake Karapiro and SH1 just before Cambridge. If you take the detours on SH1 and the Old Taupo Rd, you better have your own food supplies as you won't pass any cafes or shops.

As you drive towards Cambridge, which is a gorgeous little town which advertises itself as the centre for arts,crafts and antiques, the scenery along SH1 with the Waikato River on your left and the bush on the right is stunning.

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