Taupo – One of the North Island’s most beautiful townships and also home to New Zealand’s largest lake. It might not be one of our designated Stray overnight stops, but for those with spare time to play with, we would 100% recommend hopping off the bus to explore. Here’s why:
- Get amongst the masses and witness Huka Falls – New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction. With crystal blue waters and plenty of platforms for selfie opportunities, we have no doubt that you’ll get that perfect Instagram shot! The Stray bus will stop at Huka Falls on your way into Taupo from Lake Aniwhenua, but for those who’ve hopped off the bus, why not spend a whole afternoon there? Take a dip in the calmer waters, stop off at the free natural hot pools at the Spa Park or get up close and personal to the rapids on a jet boat ride!
- Were you too busy Zorbing and White Water Rafting to visit the geothermal wonderlands in Rotorua? Or did you just love them so much that you want to see more? Either way, you should check out Taupo’s Craters of the Moon. Witness the bubbling craters and steaming vents as you wander along the 45 minute walkway.
- Adrenaline seekers, look no further! With skydives, a bungy and a swing, Taupo gives Queenstown a run for its money. Throw yourself out of a pink plane from 15,000 ft with Skydive Taupo or plummet 47m from a ledge and take a dip in the Waikato river with Taupo Bungy. If you’re feeling too nervous, you can always team up with a friend and do a tandem bungy jump! Either way, you’ll be able to cross those ‘bucket list’ activities off with ease.
- Fancy more than just a dip in the river? Why not try your hand at white water rafting? Navigate your way through the crystal clear waters of the Tongariro River, tackling some grade 2-4 rapids along the way.
- If you have a Stray Tom pass but still fancy tackling the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Taupo makes for a great base to do so. You can book return transport to and from the crossing or even organise fully-guided tours. It’s a New Zealand wonder that is not to be missed!
- Still craving more exercise? Taupo is home to Mount Tauhara. Gear up (hiking boots and warm layers are a must) and conquer the steep, muddy bush walk to the summit. It might not sound very appealing, but trust us, it’s worth it! You’ll be able to see views of Lake Taupo, Mt Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and even White Island on a clear day.
- Of course, we can’t write a whole post about Taupo and not mention the lake! At sunrise, sunset or on a bluebird afternoon – you’ll find yourself permanently in awe of the scenery. Amble along the Lions walkway, sunbathe, stand-up paddle board, parasail or try your hand at the hole-in-one challenge. The choices are endless. One of our favourite things to do is head out on a kayak or sailboat to see the Maori rock carvings – there are plenty of backpacker friendly tour options starting at just $20!
- Get cultured! Head to the Taupo Museum and learn more about Taupo’s Maori culture and history. There’s also an art gallery, a Marae and an Ora Garden of Wellbeing at the venue, so this activity could easily fill a whole morning or afternoon.
- If you’re running low on cash and looking for free activities then you’re in luck! Taupo has a really cool street art scene – why not go on a ‘treasure hunt’ in search of every mural? If you happen to be in Taupo during October then try and catch the Graffiato Street Art festival where you will be able to see new masterpieces created right before your very eyes!
- Just in case all of the above fails to convince you then you should know: Taupo is home to the world’s coolest McDonalds! (Fact. Not just our opinion!) If you want to find out why then we suppose you’ll just have to visit…
So there you have it; all the reasons why we think Taupo is worth hopping off the bus for!
You’ll need to book your own accommodation (check out BASE or Urban Retreat) but your Stray driver will help you book a skydive or bungy if you’re feeling up to the challenge…
Got itchy feet? Book your Stray pass now!
Tara Manjunath is a 22 year old, trilingual Brit residing in Auckland, NZ. Despite studying politics, the creative world is where she feels most at home. When she’s not working at Stray HQ, you can find her hula hooping, perfecting her yoga poses or stocking up on peanut butter supplies. She’s lived in Spain and Russia, backpacked through Latin America and road tripped through NZ… just to name a few things! Follow her adventures at sojourneywithme.com