Great Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake which also happens to be a caldera (sunken volcano) which is still active. The average depth of the lake is 100m and in some places you can see the water bubbling but it isn’t hot enough to warm up the entire lake. We both really liked Taupo (pronounced toe-paw) and there is plenty to keep you occupied for a few days. There is also quite a strange mix of activities – you can do all the adrenaline filled activities but there are also quite a few retirement homes.
James took advantage of one of those extreme activities on offer and did a skydive! It was 15000ft and had 60 seconds of free fall. The photos look incredible and he really enjoyed it but I decided to give it a miss… Not my cup of tea at all! I had a very pleasant walk along the lake front instead. Following the excitement of the previous afternoon and ahead of tackling the Tongariro Crossing we took it very easy on our first full day. We walked around the town and then walked a little way around the lake to a hot water area. Some mini-golf and a soak in the hot tub rounded off the day.
Just outside of Taupo the Huka Falls are really worth going to see and are apparently New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction. The word Huka means foam which makes perfect sense when you see them. 220000 litres of water go over the falls per second – enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in 11 seconds! You can walk to the falls quite easily and it’s a good way to see the river which is a lovely rich blue colour and incredibly clear, but you can also see how fast flowing it is. As we walked along we passed some people bathing in a hot stream which flowed into the river. On the way back we took a different track which meant we could walk through some Redwoods which was pleasant but unfortunately a lot of the track was just walking back along the road.
The best way to explore the lake is by boat and there are multiple different options depending on which one takes your fancy. We went with Sail Fearless, a pirate ship, to enjoy the lake and see the Maori Rock Carvings which are one of the big attractions. The carvings were only done in the 1970s so some people are a little sceptical about them but they did take several summers and are quite impressive to see.
Taupo museum was recommended by our guidebook and is an excellent place to spend a couple of hours on a rainy day, especially as it is quite cheap. For its size the displays are really well put together and informative. The Waka and the meeting house are particularly interesting to see and read about.
Taupo is an easyish location to get to Tongariro National Park for the Tongariro Crossing and skiing on Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand’s largest ski field and an active volcano. It’s also a good area for trout fishing. We had a very relaxing few days in Taupo and it’s a good place to take life at a slower pace.