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Top 10 must-do's in Tūrangi

Tūrangi, nestled below the forest-clad Kaimanawa Ranges, is a hidden gem in the heart of New Zealand's North Island. This charming town serves as a base camp for world-class trout fly fishing on the pristine Tongariro River and as the gateway to the awe-inspiring beauty and adventure of the UNESCO Dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park.

If you're planning to explore the southern shores of Lake Taupō this summer, we've got you covered with our list of the top 10 must-do activities according to locals. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

1. Fly fishing on the Tongariro River

Whether you're a novice or an experienced angler, the Taupō fishery offers a diverse range of fishing experiences. However, the crown jewel of our fishery is undoubtedly the mighty Tongariro River. For fishing enthusiasts, the Tongariro River is a paradise waiting to be explored.

Rising in the Tongariro National Park and flowing through Tūrangi, this river teems with rainbow and brown trout, making it an angler's dream destination. Enjoy pristine backcountry angling, spring smelting action along the river mouths and beaches, dry fly fishing in summer, and annual migration runs up the lake tributaries.

2. Walk (or bike) the Tongariro River Trail

The Tongariro River Trail is a 15km loop track that starts in Tūrangi, offering a gentle and family-friendly adventure. As you follow the world-famous trout river, you'll pass through rolling farmland, beech forests, and fern glades, all while enjoying breathtaking river views around every bend. This track is mainly flat, making it perfect for children and beginner riders.

You can complete the loop in a couple of hours as a family or in about an hour if you're an experienced rider. Don't forget to stop by the Tongariro National Trout Centre along the way, where you can take a break in lovely picnic areas and enjoy the facilities.

3. Traverse the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

If you're seeking an epic adventure, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must. This 19km journey through the Tongariro National Park offers breathtaking views of cold mountain springs, ancient lava flows, steam vents, and the stunning Emerald Lakes.

Starting at an elevation of 1120m, you'll climb through the Mangatepōpō Valley, reaching the highest point at Red Crater (1886m). Descend through a volcanic rock scree track to the vivid Emerald Lakes and continue past Blue Lake, all the way down to the road end at 760m. It's a challenging trek, but the landscapes you'll encounter are truly awe-inspiring.

4. White water rafting on the Tongariro River

If you're craving excitement, white water rafting on the Tongariro River is an adventure that won't disappoint with Tongariro River Rafting. Located just 40 minutes from Taupō or Ruapehu, Tūrangi is your gateway to an adrenaline-pumping experience.

Tongariro River Rafting will provide you with all the necessary safety gear, including wetsuits and extra layers to keep you warm. You can even leave your belongings at their base, so you can focus on enjoying the river.

The Tongariro River holds a special place in their hearts, with an intimate knowledge of every inch. All their guides boast extensive training and qualifications across the board, ensuring visitors have an exceptional experience.

5. Mountain biking

The Taupō region is a mountain biking utopia, and Tūrangi's central location makes it the perfect base for exploring world-renowned trails like the Tongariro River Trail, 42 Traverse, Tree Trunk Gorge, the Timber Trail and Great Lake Trail. Whether you're into scenic rides, downhill thrills, or technical challenges, you'll find something to suit your skill level and preferences.

In the Ruapehu region to the south, conquer the 42 Traverse, Fishers Track, and the Ohakune Old Coach Road. For a picturesque journey, the Tree Trunk Gorge trail takes you through Kaimanawa Forest Park, offering glimpses of native flora, streams, rivers, and impressive gorges.

6. Learn to fish at the Tongariro National Trout Centre

For a family-friendly fishing experience and a fantastic opportunity for kids to discover the joys of fishing, visit the Tongariro National Trout Centre.

They offer a Kids Fishing program during NZ school holidays, where children aged 3 to 18 can learn to fish with the help of experienced anglers. Your child's catch will be weighed, measured, filleted, and smoked, ready for you to enjoy.

7. Discover beautiful short walks in Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park isn't just about long hikes; it also offers shorter walks showcasing its natural beauty like Taranaki Falls, Tama Lakes, Tawhai Falls, Silica Rapids and Lake Rotopounamu.

Explore Lake Rotopounamu, a tranquil crater lake surrounded by native bush, and keep an eye out for native birds like the North Island robin, kākā, kereru, and falcon. Another highlight is the Taranaki Falls trail, which takes you to a stunning 20-meter waterfall surrounded by lava formations and beech forest. The Silica Rapids loop showcases a variety of vegetation types and spectacular views of Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe.

8. Discover the beaches of the southern bays of Lake Taupō

The southern bays of Lake Taupō are a haven for relaxation and adventure.

Explore ancient craters filled with emerald-coloured waters, hike to cliff-top vantage points for panoramic views, try your hand at trout fishing, and unwind by the beautiful, remote shores. 

9. Visit Tokaanu Thermal Pools

Discover the enchanting Tokaanu Thermal Pools, a sanctuary of healing and relaxation nestled on the southern shores of Lake Taupō. 

Photo by Outdoor Kid

Immerse yourself in the therapeutic embrace of natural mineral waters. Perfect for families, friends, or solo travelers seeking solace, the Tokaanu Thermal Pools offer a unique blend of relaxation and education against a backdrop of fascinating thermal phenomena and rich local history.

The Tokaanu area invites you to connect with the therapeutic traditions and natural wonders. Afterwards, experience the warmth of Tokaanu's mineral-rich springs and explore the vibrant ecosystem of the adjacent Tokaanu Thermal Walk, where rainbow trout glide through the Tokaanu stream.

10. Ski or snowboard at Whakapapa Ski Area

If you're visiting during the winter months (June to October), don't miss the opportunity to ski or snowboard at Whakapapa Ski Area on Mt Ruapehu. With New Zealand's longest ski season, it caters to everyone, from beginners to seasoned snow sports enthusiasts.

Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snow play. Whakapapa Ski Area also boasts New Zealand's highest cafe, making it a fantastic destination for a snowy adventure.


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Family adventures on the southern shores of Lake Taupō 

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