• Countryside Raw and rugged lakeside
  • Country Life Active – like the surrounding volcanoes

You won’t be able to stop staring. This is some of the most eye-popping, jaw-dropping landscape in NZ. On the North Island’s Central Plateau, extending south-west of the town of Taupo, you’ll see the country’s largest lake and source of its longest river.

Like nearby Rotorua to the north, the land surrounding Lake Taupo is still volcanically active, with steaming thermal hot-spots another big attraction. If you’re looking for outdoor pursuits against a ravishing backdrop, this is the place to come, with legendary trout-fishing, adrenalin-rush rafting and all manner of scenic watersports up for grabs. In winter, you’ll be tempted by the ski fields, but come summer the surrounding national park becomes a haven for trekking. Or, for a real high, get airborne – Taupo is also the world’s skydiving capital.

Do go/Don’t go

The elevation means things get mighty cool. If you crave walking, mountain biking or throwing yourself into other outdoorsy adventures, stick to the warmer months (December to February). Prefer to ski and indulge in all its après fun? July to October is the time for you. Fan of fishing? February and March are best for brown trout, and June to September for rainbow trout, but Tongariro River has fantastic year-round offerings.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com) offers regular flights to Taupo Airport (www.taupoairport.co.nz) from international hubs Auckland and Wellington. Alternatively, Rotorua Regional Airport (www.rotorua-airport.co.nz), just an hour’s drive away, also operates flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
  • Trains The Tranz Scenic Overlander (www.tranzscenic.co.nz) runs between Auckland and Wellington and stops twice in the region: at National Park and Okahune.
  • Automobiles If you intend exploring the area, the easiest way by far is by car. Avis (www.avis.co.nz) has a counter at Taupo Airport, eight kilometres south of town. Otherwise, numerous shuttle bus services run year-round between Taupo, Turangi and the Tongariro National Park, and up to the Whakapapa ski fields (about 90 minutes away) during winter.
  • Taxis There are three cab companies operating in Taupo, but you’re best to book one. Try Taupo Taxis (07 378 5100).