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Taupo is a fantastic place to explore the outdoors with some of the best hiking and walking trails in New Zealand. Taupo’s pumice-rich, free-draining soils mean excellent conditions year-round, and there are trails to suit every kind of explorer.
Start the day with a brisk lakeside walk or immerse yourself deep in lush native bush and birdsong, all the while enjoying spectacular views of Lake Taupo, mighty rivers and the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park. Here are some trails that you can easily fit into your holiday itinerary and will showcase the regions diverse natural beauty.
The dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park is most famous for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, though there are several shorter walking trails within this stunning volcanic landscape that are worth exploring.
Lake Rotopounamu fills a crater nestled into the western side of Mount Pihanga. The name of the lake comes from the Maori words 'roto' (lake) and 'pounamu' (greenstone). The five kilometre loop track will take a leisurely two hours to complete and is a favourite amongst nature lovers, families and birdwatchers. The North Island robin, kaka, kereru and falcon are often seen amongst the native bush. The crystal clear waters of the lake are suitable for swimming in with plenty of places to walk down to the sandy beaches. Find out more about the Lake Rotopounamu Trail.
Other short walks in the Tongariro National Park worth exploring are Taranaki Falls, Tama lakes and Silica Rapids.
It is easy to miss the Tongariro River Trail. Enveloped in native bush and hugging the banks of the beautiful Tongariro River, this Turangi based mountain biking and walking trail is intentionally built as a hideaway from the world.
The Tongariro River is world renowned for its trout fishing and on this trail, you’ll pass famous fishing pools like the Major Jones and Duchess Pool, named after the Queen Mother who once fly-fished there. The Tongariro National Trout Centre at the far end of the trail is a worthwhile stop-off, great for kids during the school holidays when they can catch and cook their own trout!
There are multiple entry points along the 15 kilometre grade 2 trail, so it’s suitable for beginner riders and families. Don’t discount it though if you’re a seasoned mountain biker as the beautiful native bush, birdsong and window to the Tongariro River is worth experiencing. Find out more about the Tongariro River Trail.
If you’re looking for a leisurely activity for the whole family in Taupo town, take a stroll or bike along the award-winning Great Lake Pathway which was voted New Zealand’s Favourite Urban Ride 2017.
Starting at the Taupo Harbour and finishing at Five Mile Bay, you can choose between a leisurely cruise along part of the fully paved pathway or complete the full 10-kilometre grade 1 bike trail. This trail is suitable for riders of every skill level, from absolute beginners to experts wanting a relaxed, scenic cruise with stunning views out across the lake. There are several picnic and rest areas on the lakefront where you can stop and take in the views, or a dip in the lake. Find out more about the Great Lake Pathway.
Other must-do’s include the Great Lake Trail, Mt Tauhara (walking only), Huka Trails, Opepe Historic Bush Walk (walking only) and a huge variety of walks and bike rides of various lengths in Pureora and Kaimanawa Forest Parks’.
Whatever your experience level or passion, there are walking and biking trails around Taupo to suit everyone, and no shortage of Instagram worthy photo spots. Find out more about the walking and hiking trails in Taupo.
Locals have long enjoyed the geothermal wonders of Taupo, from gentle geothermal walkways to overnight hikes throughout majestic volcanic landscapes, but the real gem is experiencing Taupo's volcanic energy by soaking in its warm healing waters at one of the geothermal hot pools.