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The ancient Taupo super eruption gifted this region with the largest crater lake in Australasia, amazing free draining pumice soils and dramatic mountainous landscape - perfect for adventure activities from the rivers to the sky and everywhere in-between. Let us help you plan your adrenaline-filled North Island, New Zealand road trip around the central plateau!
Whakapapa Ski Area is New Zealand’s largest ski area with over 65 trails to discover, over 550ha of lift-accessed and patrolled terrain ranging from beginner to extreme and is home to the country’s largest gondola; the new 1.8km Sky Waka. Discover snow filled basins, steep chutes and wide-open slopes. There are also well over 24 black and double black diamond runs to satisfy the most extreme skiers and snowboarders, plus Whakapapa is home to New Zealand’s largest lift-accessed backcountry skiing area. Book a private or group lesson, or free-ride the upper mountain and enjoy the epic terrain that comes with skiing on an active volcano!
Whakapapa Ski Area on Mt Ruapehu is a scenic 1 hour 15-minute drive south of Taupo town, and an easy 40-minute drive from Turangi and situated within the stunning UNESCO dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park.
Taupo has some of the best mountain biking in New Zealand, with internationally recognised, purpose-built trails to suit every type of rider. Taupo’s free draining pumice soil means excellent conditions year-round, making the region a popular hub for all types of riding. Explore trails like the Great Lake Trails (part of the Nga Haerenga - The New Zealand Cycle Trails network) which take you on a spectacular journey along the rim of the Lake Taupo super volcano. The 71km grade 3 (intermediate) fast, flowing single track trails take you through beautiful native bush around the western bays of Lake Taupo. Made up of three sections linked by a water taxi, this is an epic two or three-day journey to complement your winter holiday.
Craters Mountain Bike Park in the Wairakei Forest is a bike park featuring over 50km of expertly built, flowing cross country and downhill trails ranging from grade two to grade five. Ride to (and from) the park from Taupo town along the Rotary Ride which follows the course of the Waikato River to Huka Falls, and on to the Aratiatia Dam. Other must-dos include the award-winning Timber Trail in the ancient Pureora Forest Park and The Waikato River Trails near Mangakino, where you will find some epic suspension bridges to ride!
Thrill seekers should book a visit to Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park and see the team at Formula Challenge Racing and Taupo Karts. Rain or shine, here you can drive a grunty V8, or specialty single seat race car around the racetrack; these cars provide you with a unique experience of what it's like to be driving a Formula 1 or Indy car. Go-karting is a family favourite, though don’t be fooled as Taupo Karts has the most powerful recreational karts in the world. At 390cc, you can really put the pedal to the metal, but there are also smaller karts available for children, and tandem karts for parents to share with the kids. There are racing experiences that will suit both novice and experienced drivers alike.
Take in the incredible lake, mountain and coast-to-coast views from an impressive 18,500 feet with a tandem skydive. Winter is an awesome time of year for your skydiving experience with the majestic snowcapped mountains of the Tongariro National Park framing the backdrop of your jump. New Zealand’s highest water touch bungy jump also calls Taupo home – located 47-metres above the crystal-clear waters of the mighty Waikato River at AJ Hackett Taupo Bungy. Here you can experience an adrenaline rush like never before.
Water is our defining element here in Taupo, and there are so many ways to get out and about and enjoy it throughout winter. Journey through towering ancient volcanic cliffs as you float down the aquamarine waters of the Waikato River via raft or kayak – don’t worry you will be toasty warm in your wetsuit. The trip begins right in the heart of Taupo town and passes through bush clad cliffs and the natural hot springs at Otumuheke Stream in Spa Thermal Park, the perfect spot to warm up on a clear winter’s day.
Or if you are looking for something a little more adrenaline heavy, join a white-water rafting trip on the Tongariro River in Turangi and experience the rapids of the region’s famous trout fishing river, yes you will get wet, but the action will keep you warm! Taupo is also lucky to be home to three awesome jet boat operators, each providing a unique scenic experience on different parts of the Waikato River, with heated handrails to hold onto and splash jackets provided, there is no reason why you shouldn’t book a trip during your winter holiday.
From jet boating, white water rafting, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding, skydiving and bungy jumping, there is an adventure waiting for everyone this winter. There's a good reason Taupo is known for its adrenaline activities, so plan your winter road trip to the heart of the central North Island and experience winter in Taupo like no where else in the country!
Skiing the North Island has largely been under wraps for many years, but we've revealed 11 reasons why you should consider a ski holiday in Taupo, New Zealand.