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The 4 best hikes in the Taupō region to summit for captivating views

After hours of hiking, finally seeing the summit’s edge is the most gratifying feeling. It’s what we all chase as hikers...but the phenomenal outlooks aren’t so bad either!

The Taupō region holds the most breathtaking vistas on 4 summits surrounding Lake Taupō.

This summit bucket list is for adventurous hikers craving those worthwhile hikes, more challenging trails, and once-in-a-lifetime views. All within driving distance, keep this checklist of inspiring tramps plus nearby campgrounds for your next trip!

1. Mount Tauhara – Taupō

One of the region’s most iconic summits is just 10 minutes from Taupō’s bustling town centre. Waiting at the top are expansive outlooks of Taupō town and the perfect hiking pic. The quintessential summit photo is on the boulders with Lake Taupō and the snow-capped Tongariro National Park boasting in the background.

View of the Tongariro National Park from Mt Tauhara

Afterward, explore the short trails around the summit and take in the 360-degree scenery.

This popular hike is still a moderate challenge for the avid hiker. If you traverse the steep farmland section, you’ll be rewarded with switchbacks through fern forests and sneak peeks of the picturesque views.

I love it because it's only a short drive from town, a challenging but short hike for an epic view!


At most, Mount Tauhara is a half day-hike, leaving you heaps of time for fun après-hike activities (or another hike)!


2. Mount Pureora via Link Road - Pureora Forest Park

It's time to head to Pureora Forest Park and discover a unique vantage point of Lake Taupō.

View of the Western Bays from Mt Pureora

Compared to its counterparts, this is a less congested trail. If you’re short on time or your legs need some rest, it's a fail-proof alternative to the longer route to Mount Pureora via the ToiToi Track (a 5-hour return trip). The easy-to-navigate stairs, waterway bridges, and a boardwalk make the summit accessible in terms of difficulty.

The view is so unsuspecting. When you leave the forest and finally reach the top, the view is unlike any other. I could’ve stayed up at the summit for hours, staring at the western part of the lake!


Once you get to the peak, you’ll be met with western vistas of Tongariro National Park plus sights of:

  • Mount Titiraupenga
  • The western shores of Lake Taupō
  • Mount Tauhara
  • Mount Taranaki (on a clear day)

Stay at the Ngaherenga Campsite, and it's only a 9 km (gravel road) drive up to the trailhead. It will take you 2.5 hours maximum to complete, so you have the rest of the day to explore other walks like the Rimu Walk and the Tōtara Walk.

  • Elevation: 345 meters
  • Distance: 3 km (one-way)
  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Nearby campsite: Ngaherenga Campsite at Mount Pureora Forest Park 


3. Mount Urchin Track - Kaimanawa Forest Park

Brace yourself for one of the most spectacular views of Tongariro National Park’s active volcanoes (without being in the park itself).

View of Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngāuruhoe

Like Pureora Forest Park, a short gravel road leads up to the trailhead from the Urchin Conservation Campsite. The adrenaline-pumping climb, steep-rooted stairs and quick elevation are worthwhile. Trust us!

As the alpine forest opens to native bush, the grandiose Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngāuruhoe will immediately captivate you. The phenomenal scenery at this summit is what every avid hiker chases.

I like going up Mt Urchin as it's easily accessible by car and once at the top offers stunning panoramic views of the mountains, Kaimanawa Ranges, and the Lakes in the Central North Island. It’s also a good little test of fitness levels.


If you’re camping at the Urchin campsite, explore other nearby walks like Tree Trunk Gorge or the Pillars of Hercules. But we understand if you want to spend all your time at Mount Urchin's summit.


4. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing – the Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park holds dual UNESCO World Heritage Site status that recognises its Māori cultural and spiritual significance and its outstanding natural landscape. It is a hiker's paradise - full of incredible walks, pristine scenery, and is home to one of New Zealand’s greatest day hikes, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the winter

While it is a demanding venture, it’s one of the most rewarding. The feeling of accomplishment (that every hiker encounters post-hike) is multiplied by a thousand. You are walking through an active volcanic landscape with ancient geothermal vents, past mountainside springs, to crater lakes so beautiful they don’t look real and on revered land deserving of celebration and respect.

I have never done a hike with scenery that was so varied and so stunning! From the volcanic ridges that felt like I had been transported to mars to bright blue lakes to lush green native forest. It was unforgettable.


These spectacular landscapes are even better in the winter! In the colder seasons, you will need a guide if there is snow on the track, upgrading to an epic winter hiking experience.

How many of these hikes can you check off your list?

Please check weather alerts and equipment needed on the Plan My Walk app before setting off on your remarkable hīkoi. There are heaps of alternative walks to enjoy in the Taupō and Ruapehu regions if there is bad weather.

And remember to keep the Tiaki Promise while traveling and hiking through New Zealand’s remarkable landscapes.

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