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The Great Lake Taupo region is the perfect family getaway destination. In the summer you can enjoy swimming and boating and all that the stunning lake has to offer, but it is in winter that the region truly shines. There are majestic mountains covered in snow, geothermal wonders to discover and plenty of unique activities to keep the whole family entertained. So pack up your winter woollies, jackets and boots and let’s look at what you can do with your family in the Taupo region this winter.
1: Play on Mount Ruapehu – With two major ski areas – Whakapapa on the northern slopes and Turoa on the Southern slopes, there is plenty for snow enthusiasts to enjoy during the winter season. Whether it is learning to ski or snowboard, taking on the more challenging slopes or having fun making snow angels, snowmen or sledding down the hills, there is fun to be had on the slopes for all the family. Whakapapa Ski Area is New Zealand's largest and Turoa boasts the longest vertical descent, but both ski areas cater for all ages and abilities. There are dedicated beginners’ areas such as ‘Happy Valley’ on Whakapapa, through to more advanced terrains, such as natural half-pipes and chutes of the Organ Pipes on Turoa.
If you don’t have all the gear, don’t let that put you off, ski and snowboard equipment, clothing and accessories can be hired either on the mountain or at one of the many off-mountain rental shops.
2: Soak in Hot Pools – It is always the right time to enjoy a warm soak. It will soothe tired, cold bodies after a good day on the mountain or it is a perfect way for everyone to relax and unwind. There are a few options in the Taupo area to enjoy. AC Baths is an all-weather, family-friendly complex, with toddler areas, two hydro slides, and a tarzan swing among some of the facilities to enjoy.
If you want a free option then look no further than the natural hot pools of Otumuheke Stream in Spa Park, near the AJ Hacket bungy jump. Popular with locals and visitors, these natural hot pools originate from a hot stream that flows into the Waikato River, thanks to the geothermal activity bubbling away under ground. So grab you togs and towels and enjoy what nature has created.
Another popular soaking spot is Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs & Pools. Taupo DeBretts has two large outdoor mineral pools, kids can make a splash in the interactive water play area and everyone can enjoy zooming down the hydro slides! You will leave with lasting memories of a great family time spent here.
3: Explore Huka Falls - Located just a few minutes drive from Taupo township, this is a natural wonder you won’t want to miss. You can stroll around the walking tracks next to the river and take in the falls from many different angles from several viewing platforms available. For a truly special experience, see the falls up close on the Huka Falls Jet. It will be sure to serve up a thrilling ride you will not forget, taking you right up to the white waters of the Huka Falls.
4: Discover Geothermal wonders – sometimes I think we forget how many special and unique features New Zealand has to offer. The Taupo Region has many geothermal wonders for families to discover and appreciate. Craters of the Moon is a gentle walk through a geothermal field, along boardwalks and pathways that are suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Orakei Korako geothermal park and cave is also known as ‘The Hidden Valley’ and is about a 25minute drive from Taupo. You can wander around this ‘hidden valley’ and marvel at the many natural geysers, boiling hot springs or stroll through the native bush and thermal Ruatapu cave.
5: Ernest Kemp Replica Steamboat - These leisurely Cruises onboard the Ernest Kemp Steamboat, takes you to see the amazing Maori Rock Carvings that may look like something out of The Lord of the Rings set but were actually created in the 70’s by a group of local artists. They can only be seen from the water, so this is a relaxing way to enjoy the scenery.
6: The Tongariro National Trout Centre - The kids can see and feed wild trout in their natural environment, or they can watch them from the underwater viewing chamber. A highlight of your visit will be viewing many of New Zealand's native fresh water fish in the aquarium. On special days of the year the centre opens the ponds for children’s ‘fish outs’ where they get to catch their own fish, they get a trout centre souvenir license, a certificate recording their catch and the trout gets filleted and smoked to take home and enjoy for dinner.
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