Not just a winter destination; there's plenty to do in Taupo all year round. Here's our pick of some the best.
1. Works of art
Get up close to one of New Zealand's most extraordinary artworks, the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, towering 14m above the lake and accessible only by water.
You can relaxon a scenic cruise or take a sailing trip to view the artwork for yourself. The carvings are the work of Matahi Whakataka Brightwell and his team of carvers — cousin Jono Randall, Te Miringa Hohaia, Dave Hegglun and Steve Myhre — who began the project in 1976, working over four summers to finally complete them in 1980.
This beautiful artwork is made up of several individual carvings that each has its own story and meaning. This Labour Weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the project and celebrations are planned.
2. Mountain high
The Great Lake Taupo region is home to some of New Zealand's most sacred mountains. Standing among the activevolcanoes of Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe is awe-inspiring. The spiritual lands of Tongariro National Park make up the world's first dual World Heritage area recognised for its important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. Experience it for yourself by trekking the Tongariro Crossing — a world-renowned walk, described by many as the best one-day trek in the country. Spring and summer are a great time to go — the weather is more reliable but there will still be some snow left on the peaks at higher altitudes.
3. Gone fishing
Turangi is known as the trout fishing capital of New Zealand and is also home to the Tongariro National Trout Centre and hatchery, where you can educate yourself about these wild fish. The Tongariro River, the largest and most important spawning river in the Great LakeTaupo fishing region, runs through Turangi and it's a great place to fish for prime rainbow and brown trout.
4. Adrenalin adventures
There are so many ways toget the blood pumping in and around Taupo — obviously there's skiing and snowboarding in winter, but year-round you can get your thrills and spills on a jet boat, with a bungy jump, a sky dive, whitewater rafting, parasailing, high ropes, scenic flights . . . it's an adventure lover's paradise.
5. Mighty falls
Just a few minutes' drive from the town centre, Huka Falls is a must-visit for any trip to Taupo. The 11m waterfall is themost visited and photographed natural attraction in New Zealand, with a flow of 220,000 litres of water per second — enough to fill one Olympic sized swimming pool in 11 seconds. Alongside the falls themselves are walking and mountain biking tracks, so it's worthmore than a cursory car stop on your way inand out of town.
Further information: See greatlaketaupo.com.