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Leisurely loops and walking trails in the Taupō region

The Taupō region is a fantastic place to explore the outdoors, with some of the best hiking and walking trails in Aotearoa. Taupō’s pumice-rich, free-draining soils mean excellent conditions year-round, and trails 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 Taupō, 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.

Tongariro National Park walks

The dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park is most famous for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. However, several shorter walking trails within this stunning volcanic landscape are worth exploring.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Lake Rotopounamu fills a crater nestled into the western side of Mount Pihanga. The name of the lake comes from the Māori words 'roto' (lake) and 'pounamu' (greenstone). The five-kilometre loop track will take 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.

Lake Rotopounamu

Other short walks in the Tongariro National Park worth exploring are Taranaki Falls, Tama Lakes and Silica Rapids.

Tongariro River Trail

It is easy to miss the Tongariro River Trail. Enveloped in native bush and hugging the banks of the beautiful Tongariro River, this Tūrangi-based mountain biking and walking trail is intentionally built as a hideaway from the world.

Tongariro River Trail

The Tongariro River is world-renowned for its trout fishing, and on this trail, you’ll pass famous fishing pools like Major Jones and Duchess Pool. 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.

Great Lake Pathway 

If you’re looking for a leisurely activity for the whole family in Taupō town, take a stroll or bike along the award-winning Great Lake Pathway, voted New Zealand’s Favourite Urban Ride 2017.

Lake Taupo Two Mile Bay - family on the Great Lake Pathway - photo by Todd Eyre
Great Lake Walkway

Starting at the Taupō Harbour and finishing at Five Mile Bay, you can choose between a leisurely cruise along part of the fully paved pathway or completing the entire 10-kilometre grade 1 shared biking and walking 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 dip in the lake.

Other Taupō walks and hikes

Other must-dos include the Great Lake Trails, Mt Tauhara (walking only), Huka Trails, Opepe Historic Bush Walk (walking only) and a wide 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 Taupō to suit everyone.


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