Taupō – Central North Island

Mesmerized by plumes of steam, rainbow rocks, calderas, craters, boiling mud, and volcanos we kept returning to the Taupō Volcanic Zone. Each time, a blog post sprouted and a “Next Time” list grew. In the end, 26 days were not enough.

  • June – nothing but rain in Taupō
  • July – winter in Rotoiti
  • November – blue skies for a perfect scenic flight in Taupō
  • February – summer tramping weather in Chateau Tongariro

In This Post…Let’s Talk Taupō in June & November

Lake Taupō (pronounced TOE-pour)

A caldera of a super volcano, NZ’s largest lake is 616 sq km. A pretty day on the lake, sailing the 1920’s yacht Barbary to a Giant Māori Rock Carving. Completed in the 1970’s, Matehi Brightwell’s contemporary artwork is a likeness of Ngatoroirangi (Nah-toe-roy-na-ee), an ancestral Māori navigator. The artist took no payment and holds a vision to add the traditional Paua Shell eyes.

Craters of the Moon

An unanticipated effect of a geothermal construction project, this 2-mile walkway winds through belching, boiling mud pits and steaming, hissing crevices.

Aratiatia Dam

The Waikato River produces about 50% of the North Island’s power. When its dam gates are opened the gorge is filled with a raging torrent of turquoise water.

Lord of the Rings: A filming location for the Barrel Ride, 25 barrels were dropped down the rapids; however, the Dwarves in the barrels was filmed on the Pelorus River in Marlborough.

Huka Falls

Down the road the Waikato River thunders over a 35-foot rock ledge – 200,000 liters/second are forced through and over a narrow gap that is only 200 feet across.

Taupō Tidbits

Known as the rainbow trout capital of the universe, the average trout size is 4lbs. Trout cannot be purchased at markets or ordered at restaurants. You must catch you own.

And Then There Was This!

On our final November day, after days of rain, the sky cleared for flight-seeing over Tongariro National Park for “one last look”. It whet the appetite to see more, know more and experience the 3 active volcanoes up close. The weather always being iffy, fingers crossed for a return trip in February and “The Next Time” list.

A Visitor’s Paradise – Recommendations

This is a fraction of the attractions – not listed are heaps of family adventures. The most dramatic geothermal experiences are near Rotorua. The most dramatic walks/hikes are in Tongariro. Taupo is a day-trip or two.

Near Rotorua

  • Hobbiton
  • Blue Springs Putaruru
  • Hamurana Springs
  • Mt Tarawera Volcano
  • Spas – Hell’s Gate- Secret Spa
  • Okere Falls Track
  • Lake Rotoiti

In Rotorua

  • Redwoods
  • Polynesia Spa
  • Māori Culture – Te Puia
  • Buried Village Te Wairoa
  • Government Gardens

Best Geothermal

  • Waimangui Volcanic Valley
  • Wai-o-tapu
  • Orakei Thermal Park (Mihi)
  • Rotorua Kuira Public Park and foot soak


  • Aratiatia Dam
  • Huka Falls
  • Lake Taupō Sailing


  • Earthquake Museum
  • Trout Centre
  • Trout fishing
  • Desert Road (SH1)

Tongariro National Park

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Tama Lakes & Taranaki Falls Tracks
  • Silica Rapids, Ridge Trail
  • Whakapapanui Track – Tawhai Falls
  • Whakapapa Nature Walk
  • Whakapapa Ski Resort

There is simply not enough time.

Related Posts – Taupō Volcanic Region (North and South of Rotorua)

  1. Read about Blue Springs and Green Trees – Stunning!
  2. Read about Hobbiton -Yes, it exists
  3. Read about Rotorua Geothermal Wonders – Prismatic Rotorua
  4. Read about Hiking the Volcano, Mt Tarawera – Blown To Oblivion!

Next Post – On to Tongariro National Park

5 thoughts on “Taupō – Central North Island

  1. Again, I just love the crystal clear waters! The boat looks cool, especially if on a hot day! I like the statue of man holding his tongue especially being a Speech!! I feel that is me sometimes holding back what I really would like to say to some people! With others, you just say what you want as the comfort level is always there!

  2. Breathtaking. All of it. What a special place!

  3. Lisa Gosselin May 12, 2021 — 7:12 pm

    How was it possible for Matehi Brightwell to access the rock AND then carve this? Amazing seems silly, spectacular doesn’t do it justice. Unbelievable!

  4. Glennie Bowland May 10, 2021 — 9:35 am

    I feel as if I am back in NZ again. Many fond memories but you have captured WAY more than I saw or experienced. Amazing travelogue. Spectacular pictures and narratives! Thanks for the memories!

  5. Another magnificent post of such an interesting area. Loved the rock carving on Lake Taupo. Thanks for taking me there! xo

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