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Lake Taupo


Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake, source of spectacular Huka Falls, and centre of an active volcanic region where geothermal energy bursts through the earth's thin crust. The Lake Taupo region is a sporting paradise, and destination for holiday adventures and relaxation.


View Lake Taupo region maps   

Maps and local travel information for Lake Taupo.

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo - the North Island’s heart according to Māori legend - is the largest fresh water lake in Australasia. The lake was created in an ancient volcanic eruption, and the region is full of natural thermal springs and bubbling mud pools.

On the lake’s edge with mountain views, Taupo township is a base for visitors wanting to explore the regional highlights.

Huka Falls, New Zealand's most visited natural attraction, are on the Waikato River just north of Lake Taupo. South of the lake, Tongariro National Park has dual World Heritage status recognising important Māori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.


Lake Taupo and Mt Tongariro
Lake Taupo and Mt Tongariro


From violent volcanic origins to the settlement of Māori and European people, the Taupo region has deep cultural significance.

Lake Taupo was created by a massive volcanic eruption around 186AD. It is said that the huge eruption turned the skies of Europe and China into a fiery red.

Māori arrived in the region about 700 years ago. For the Ngati Tuwharetoa iwi that became the region’s dominant tribe, it was a harsh existence where the unfertile ashy soil made it difficult to grow kumara (sweet potato) and the lake was a poor food source.

Europeans arrived in the 1830s, but harsh conditions drove many away. Taupo township was officially created in 1868 with the establishment of an armed constabulary post, however it wasn’t until the 1950s, when land was cleared and fertilised, that the region began to flourish.

Lake Taupo - Waitahanui stream
Lake Taupo - Waitahanui stream

Māori Culture

Lake Taupo region is culturally significant for Māori, and has many examples of historic and contemporary Māori culture.

Māori rock carvings, on a cliff at the southern end of Mine Bay, are an important contemporary cultural attraction. The work of master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, the carvings feature Ngatoroirangi - the legendary Māori navigator who first led his people into the area. Two smaller Celtic-inspired designs depict the south wind and mermaid. Located in a remote bay and accessible only by water, the carvings can be visited by launch and kayak.

Wairakei Terraces gives another insight into Māori history and culture. The replica Māori village at the world-first man-made silica terraces has Māori carving treasures, culture performances and traditional hangi (earth oven) food.

Guided tours into native forest highlight the spiritual relationship between Māori and the land, local cultural history, and New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna. The nature / culture tour also tells how Māori have utilised forest resources for centuries.

Lake Taupo - Maori rock carving
Lake Taupo - Maori rock carving


Lake Taupo’s attractions make it a popular choice for luxury travellers. There are many lodges and boutique accommodation options for discerning visitors attracted by leisure activities and a peaceful fresh water setting.

Huka Lodge is an international award-winning boutique hotel in a stunning location on the banks of the Waikato river and just above the mighty Huka Falls. Surrounded by native bush and gardens, the 20-room lodge also has two exclusive cottages - the Owner’s Cottage and the Allan Pye retreat.

New Zealand’s first exclusive retreat, Huka Lodge has a vast cellar and a reputation for fine dining in intimate inside and outdoor dining areas with fireplaces, candles and privacy. Helicopters take guests on scenic flights over Lake Taupo, to nearby active volcanoes, or remote riverside fly-fishing spots.

Lake Taupo - Huka Lodge
Lake Taupo - Huka Lodge

Adventure / Outdoors

Lake Taupo region is a vast playground for fishing, hiking and adventure.

Tongariro River - on Lake Taupo’s southern tip - is considered one of the world’s best fishing spots. Private guides also take anglers to remote rivers and streams only accessible to those-in-the-know.

The Tongariro is also the perfect river for first-time rafters and recreational kayakers. Tour operators offer day or overnight camping adventures along the river.

Tongariro National Park - a World Heritage Area south of Lake Taupo - is also the location of the Tongariro Crossing. The famous alpine crossing over active volcanoes is one of the world’s best one-day mountain treks. Closer to Taupo, there are many forest and mountain walking tracks for all fitness levels.

For adrenalin junkies, Taupo has one of New Zealand’s most spectacular bungy jumps - 47m from a cantilever platform above the Waikato river for either a ‘water touch’ or ‘high and dry’ thrill. Sky diving is another popular adventure activity that offers unique views of the volcanic landscape.

Lake Taupo - skydiving
Lake Taupo - skydiving


  • Lake Taupo's eruption was so huge, ash has been found in ice cores drilled in Greenland.
  • Kaiangaroa forest, north of Taupo, is the world’s largest man-made forest.
  • Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s oldest national park, was the fourth national park established in the world.
  • Huka is the Māori word for 'falling water'.
  • Taupo's full name Taupo-nui-a-Tia translates as 'the great cloak of Tia' - after the lake’s discoverer.