On our road trip around the North Island of New Zealand, we made the trip out to Lake Taupo. Approximately three hours away from Auckland, Taupo is known for it’s incredible lakefront location and the crystal blue cascades of Huka Falls. We only had 24 hours in Taupo, and we were blessed with some beautiful sunshine despite the cold while we were there! You probably need at least 2 days (or 2 full day) to experience all the sites Taupo has to offer, but we tried our best!
The Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River, right next door to Taupo, and they are one of the most visited natural attractions in New Zealand! The Waikato river is one of New Zealand’s longest rivers, which drains into Lake Taupo (the largest freshwater lake in all of Australiasia). At Huka Falls, the Waikato River, which is normally 100m wide, is squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge over a 20 metre drop. It looks amazing, with the bright blue water crashing over the waterfalls ledge! For the adventurous visitors, you are able to take a Jet Boat ride right into the rapids! Unfortunately I was a little sick when we were in New Zealand, so we thought getting wet and frozen probably wouldn’t be the best idea, but it looks like so much fun!
Mine Bay Rock Carvings
Located in Lake Taupo and only accessible by water are the Mine Bay Rock Carvings. A master carver, Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell decided to carve an image of Ngatoroirangi, a visionary Maori navigator who guided tribes to Taupo over a thousand years ago. These carvings are over 10 metres high and took four summers to complete. Every aspect of the carvings has significance, to the town, their families and their culture.
To visit the rock carvings we chose to take a cruise with Ernest Kemp. Online research showed that they get you the closest to the carvings, sailing right up to the front of the carvings so you can inspect the dramatic detail. Ernest Kemp sails three times a day, at 10:30am, 2pm and 4:30pm every day of the year except Christmas. The 4:30pm cruise is also known as the cocktail cruise, and includes complimentary wine, beer and nibbles. Tickets are $40 NZD per person for adults.
Ernest Kemp Cruises
65 Redoubt Street
Berth 2 Taupo Marina
Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Where to stay
If you’re looking for luxury accommodation in Taupo you can’t go past the Hilton Lake Taupo. Set on a hillside, 4km from Lake Taupo, the Hilton is a little out way off the main street, but offers some incredibly modern accommodation. With rooms offering large shared balconies and sometimes lake views, the hotel has everything you could need for your stay. However, it is a little further away than we had anticipated, so I would recommend the property for visitors who have a car during their stay. The staff were all beautiful at the Hilton and very helpful; and the property included a bistro with fireplaces, outdoor pool, a fitness room, a health spa, sauna and steam room, a tennis court and even a thermal pool.
Hilton Lake Taupo
80-100 Napier Road
Taupo, New Zealand
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