Top 13 Things To See & Do In Taupo On A Budget
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20th Jul | 7 min read

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    Taupo is a town near the center of New Zealand's North Island. Whether you are an adventure lover looking to get your adrenaline fix, or a nature lover looking for some tranquility in the midst of nature, Taupo caters to everyone.

    There is so much to see and do in Taupo, that we’ve made planning for your trip a lot easier with this guide. Below you will find thirteen of the best places to visit and things to do in Taupo, and how much they cost.

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    Lake Taupo

    Cost: Free

    Located around three and a half hours from Auckland, Lake Taupo is a popular destination for fishing. With a total surface area of 234 square miles (606 square km), it is the largest lake in New Zealand. It is home to a plethora of activities including kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating, water skiing, and wakeboarding! 

    For nature lovers, there are beautiful landscapes to stop and stare at. Alpine deserts, snow-covered mountains, evergreen forests, sparkling rivers, the Huka falls and geothermal valleys with hot springs are some of the gems to check for in this area.

    Waikato River 

    Cost: 20-30 min one-way cruise NZD$29.00 for adults

    White Water Rafting and Jet Boat Combo: from $177.09

    The Waikato River is the longest river in New Zealand and the main source of hydro-electricity in the North Island of New Zealand. It offers a range of fun activities such as boating,

    fishing, canoeing, kayaking, jet boating, jet skiing, white water rafting, and riverside walks. The Waikato River trail is an excellent opportunity to witness exotic and native forests, beautiful native birdlife, and vegetation and wetlands. The trail is divided into five sections, each named after the lake it runs alongside and caters to people of different fitness levels, ranging from easy to expert. 

    Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

    CostThe Maori Carvings Half-Day Kayak from US$84.49

    Daily Scenic Maori Rock Carving Cruise Taupo from US$25.71

    Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings is a sculpture carved into the rock on the edge of Lake Taupo. It has a beautiful attention-grabbing scenic view you cannot miss while you are enjoying your time in Taupo. You can reach the destination by cruise, kayak, or by sailing. Whichever floats your boat! 

    Huka Prawn Park

    Cost: Prawn Park General Admission starts from NZD $25.00

    The Huka Prawn Park is an aquaculture venture and tourist attraction found only 10 minutes north of Taupo. For all the seafood lovers, Huka Prawn Park offers some fun activities along with a various selection of prawn dishes (or none if you prefer) at a restaurant located within the park. They recommend your first stop to be at a Hatchery/Aquarium to get a closer look at prawns and learn more about them. After that, you can hop on the fishing boat and catch your very own prawns! 

    Aratiatia Rapids

    Cost: Free

    The Aratiatia Rapids might be familiar to you from Peter Jackson’s 2013 film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The spill gates from a dam on the Waikato River are opened to release thousands of liters of water from the Aratiatia Dam to create a raging flow of water through a narrow gorge. As the water flows through the gorge, the power of the fast-flowing river is harnessed to produce hydroelectric power. There are three lookout points from where you can view the release of the dam. You can visit the Huka Falls from here, which is close by. 

    Huka Falls

    Cost: Free

    The Huka Falls is the most-visited natural attraction in New Zealand! Located in Wairakei Park and only a 5-minute drive from Lake Taupo on New Zealand's North Island, it is the largest waterfall on the Waikato River. If you want to witness the flow rate of water that could fill an Olympic swimming pool in just 11 seconds, then Huka Falls is the place for you! The Waikato River, which is usually 100m wide, passes through a hard volcanic canyon and narrows to only 15m wide, which increases the pressure of the water by a great amount, and as a result, the water bursts out at the end of the gorge at a great force, around 220,000 liters per second, over the 11 meter falls, and back into the Waikato River. 

    You can experience this from a close distance by taking a jet boat trip or river cruise to the pretty blue base of the falls. There are walking and biking trails here which you can explore as well. 

    Wairakei Terraces

    Cost: Entry fee to hot thermal pools (14 years and over) is $25.00 per person

    For more prices and booking, click here

    The water and clays of Wairakei were famous for their healing powers and therapeutic benefits and were precious to the Maori people. It attracted travelers from all over the world, vouching for its magical curative benefits. At the Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa, you will find pools with varying temperatures in a natural surrounding under the silica terraces and waterfall. Just relax and rewind at these pools or also opt for the massage therapy, Maori cultural experiences, and geothermal tours that this place also offers. 

    Craters of the Moon

    Cost: Admission prices are $8.00 per person for adults

    Craters of the Moon is a region with geothermal activity near Taupo and will mesmerize you with bubbling craters and mud, steam vents, fascinating plants, and colorful soils. The area was born when the underground water levels were lowered by a nearby plant back in the 1950s, causing a drop in the deep reservoir. This led to more boiling water which went on to produce major steam. This extra steam escaping is what ultimately gave birth to Craters of The Moon. 

    There is a 45-minute walk that you can do to catch a glimpse of all the attractions here.

    The Great Lake Walkway (Lion's Walk)

    Cost: Free

    The Great Lake Pathway (Lion's Walk) is a 10 km walking and biking track that offers beautiful views starting from Lake Taupo to the snow-capped peaks of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, and Mt Ruapehu. It was voted New Zealand's Favourite Urban Ride in 2017 and is a pretty flat track and passes through a hot water beach. You will find different stops for coffee, ice cream, swims, as well as some hotels and motels. You can also stop and click some pictures using the picturesque views as backdrops. Not just that, there is also a barbeque facility here!

    Orakei Korako

    Cost: Adults $39.00 per person (includes the ferry trip to and from the attraction, as well as entrance to the valley and cave)

    The Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park is located between Taupo & Rotorua on the banks of the Waikato River. You can get to Orakei Korako by a short ferry ride over the Waikato River (Lake Ohakuri). The ferry runs on demand from 8.30 am-4 pm each morning.

    This volcanic area is nestled in between lush greenery and a lake, and one of the main attractions here is the rare geothermal cave ‘Ruatapu Cave.’ There is a spectacular hot pool at the bottom of the cave called ‘Waiwhakaata’ which is an amazing sight to behold. You can view the cave and the pool from the viewing platform there. Not only that, but there is also a walking path here where you can explore and spot pretty colorful geothermal features.

    Otumuheke Stream at the Spa Park

    Cost: Free

    Indulge in some relaxation under a waterfall or in the natural rock pools at Spa Thermal Park. Soak in the warm healing mineral water of the Otumuheke Stream as it flows into the Waikato River at Spa Thermal Park. You can also explore the Huka scenic walking trails and the Rotary Ride mountain bike trail here. 

    Taupo Museum and Ora Garden

    Cost: $3 - $5 per adult

    The Taupo Museum is a small museum that is home to local history exhibits, displaying artwork such as paintings, fiber art, sculpture, and photography, and a pretty garden. The garden is considered to be a “Garden of National Significance’ by the NZ Gardens Trust and has won the gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2004. 

    Mount Ruapehu

    Cost: Ski or ride from just $85/day with a multi-day lift pass.

    If you want to ski on an active volcano, then Mount Ruapehu is the perfect place for you! Hikers, skiers, botanists, snowboarders, geologists, and nature lovers are welcomed here all year round to experience its natural beauty and historical attractions. With postcard picture views, its very own lake, and steam escaping at the summit, Mount Ruapehu is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Lake Taupo. 

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