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You've explored the primal forests at Kaimanawa Forest Park, scaled the volcanic peaks of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and seen the spectacular views from Mount Tauhara's summit. But the day's work is not done.
After you step off that trail, every hiker knows the familiar rumble in their stomach. Suffering from post-hike hunger, the last thing you can think about is cooking, let alone searching where to find food stat!
This hiking season, we've got you covered. You won't go hungry after exploring the Taupō region's stunningly diverse landscapes.
Below is your guide to the region's best walks paired with the most gratifying post-hike eats and easy-to-get-to après-hike activities. So, grab your boots and hit the Taupō trails with ease, knowing you'll be replenished and refreshed after your extraordinary day of hiking.
You can't hike Mount Tauhara on an empty stomach. Luckily, Industrie French Kitchen is just a 5-minute drive from the start of the summit. Offering a huge selection of decadent French pastries, it’s a great spot to munch on a croissant and coffee for energy before your climb.
Just a 10-minute drive from Taupō town, Mount Tauhara is an iconic hike for visitors and locals. Formed over 65,000 years ago, you hike over 1000 meters on the dormant lava dome.
Mount Tauhara is a culturally significant landmark for local Māori so as you hike, please respect the land, remain on the trails, leave no trace behind, and keep the Tiaki Promise.
Once you've completed the climb, you need a feed.
Café Lacus is only a 7-minute drive down State Highway 1 and is open until 4 pm. Serving Kiwi classics with their own Café Lacus spin, enjoy a refreshing, light meal like The Lacus Salad or a hearty feed like the Lacus Yorkshire Breakfast, complete with eggs, bacon, sausage, Yorkshire pudding. And if that's not your thing, there will be something else to satisfy any type of post-hike hunger.
Bonus - the only café serving nitro cold brew in town to get your afternoon caffeine kick.
You cannot miss the chance to soak away those sore muscles at Taupō Debretts Hot Springs. A great family-friendly option, you can take the kids through to the warm-water playground or down the hydroslides.
If your legs are feeling a bit sore, schedule a Hot Volcanic Stone Massage at the spa or soak in one of their indoor private hot pools.
Both sections offer picturesque lookouts, fun switchbacks, and bays for a refreshing swim!
If you've spent the day hiking around a volcanic gorge, swimming in remote bays, and finally returning to Kinloch, the Kinloch Store must be your next stop. From K2K's trail end, the store is just a 5-minute walk.
This general store holds more than just drinks, snacks, and everyday fare. Their juicy burgers or fish and chips will settle any ravenous stomach. Get your food takeaway and enjoy a lakeside picnic as the sun goes down.
The Dam Café is an easy stop to fuel your day of hiking in Pureora Forest Park. The sweet smell of homemade blueberry muffins and morning coffee remind you of your nan's home baking.
A lesser-known walk than Mount Tauhara but offering a just as a spectacular view.
The Link Road to Mount Pureora Track is nestled in one of the country's oldest native forests, Pureora Forest Park. You'll wander through dense Rimu forests before walking onto a boardwalk near the summit.
The unique volcanic terrain is eye-candy for any keen hiker. Once at the summit, you've got a front-row seat to Mount Ruapehu and a view all the way to Mount Taranaki on a clear summer day.
The bright purple 1972 Bedford bus is the hub for all summer fun at the Lakeside Reserve in Mangakino. The eccentric Bus Stop Café is more than just a funky spot for a photo op. It's offering delicious summer treats and pizzas while enjoying more lakeside views in its outdoor seating.
End your day soaking in one of their four natural hot pools, each with different temperatures to suit your preference. Modeled after the beauty of the Pink Terraces, these adult-only hot pools are a unique way to refresh your body after traveling and hiking the Taupō region.
Rich in fishing history and lore, Creel Tackle Shop and Café in Tūrangi is a local favourite for fishermen and hikers alike. Don't be fooled by the fishing flies and tackle. Hiding on the other side are fresh brioche buns and a selection of homemade treats that satisfy every savory or sweet tooth.
Looking for an easy day of hiking but still want some magnificent river views? Relatively flat and well-maintained, the Tongariro River Trail is a great option for a family stroll. For a short 2-hour walk, cross the Major Jones Bridge or complete the 3-hour loop at Red Hut Bridge. Either way, adventure across the swing bridges to see if you can spot trout swimming in the fishing pools below!
Alternatively, if you want to challenge your legs a little more, traverse one of New Zealand's most famous day hikes, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Begin your journey in the alpine valley near Soda Springs before trekking up into Red Crater's volcanic landscape. Finally reaching the summit, you won't be able to take your eyes off the Emerald and Blue Lakes, contrasted with the ancient lava flows.
Hiking the Crossing feels like walking through living history, revealing some of New Zealand's most unique and oldest landscapes in one day.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 6 to 8-hour hike one way. It is an alpine environment and weather conditions can change quickly. Be sure to wear sturdy footwear, carry an extra layer of clothing (even on a hot summer day), and pack plenty of water and snacks.
For more information on how to plan properly visit Plan My Walk.
All the snacks and sandwiches couldn't hold you over after an epic day at the Tongariro National Park.
At Hare and Copper Eatery & Bar, you come for mouth-watering food and stay for the welcoming atmosphere. You won't know what to pick from their new summer menu! The sharing plates menu is diverse and extensive so try them all with your hiking buddy. Go ahead and camp out for the night on their outdoor patio, enjoying live music, a glass of wine, and a game of giant chess!
If you're driving back to Taupō, for anyone who has a serious sweet tooth, Suga Mummas is a must-have! You can indulge in traditional treats like single-scoop cones and milkshakes or try their adventurous specials like Marmite Mini Cones or Freak Fries, dusted with brown sugar and topped with ice cream. Open until 7 pm during the summer, Suga Mummas is a sweet end to the day!
Lil Something Cafe is the perfect starting point for a pre-hike smoothie and a hot coffee! Just park at the Spa Thermal Park carpark and walk down to the Otumuheke Stream. The natural hot springs are tempting for a quick pre-hike soak. From the stream, walk straight along to the Huka Trails.
The Huka Trails are an endless system of biking and hiking trails for you to explore, viewing the Waikato River, the Otumuheke Stream at Spa Thermal Park, and Aratiatia Rapids. Choose the popular Spa Thermal Park to Huka Falls Walk, approximately 1.5 hr one way, or explore along the Waikato River to the Aratiaia Rapids on the longer 4-hour one way from Huka Falls to Aratiatia Dam Trail.
After these stunning walks, fill up on delicious Greek-inspired lunches from Kefi at The Hub. Centered right near the start of Huka Falls Trail, Kefi at the Hub's Lamb Meatballs or Lamb Burger with grilled halloumi will be sure to hit the spot!
Marked by a giant, technicolor helicopter out front, Kefi at The Hub is hard to miss. The vintage helicopter is open for exploring and a treat the kids won't be able to resist!
Surf, squeeze, and spin on the Waikato River at Rapids Jet! Twists and turns make this ride thrilling for the whole family! Both you and the kids won't be able to stop smiling after this water ride over the Ngā Awa Purua Rapids.
Taupo is a fantastic place to explore the outdoors with some of the best hiking and walking trails in New Zealand.