Taupo

The quaint town of Taupo is billed as the adventure capital of New Zealand’s North Island. Much like its South Island counterpart Queenstown, Taupo is situated on a huge lake (in fact the biggest one in New Zealand) - Lake Taupo. With a wide range of adrenaline activities of its own, and the Whakapapa ski area just an hour away, Taupo is a thrill-seeker’s paradise summer and winter. The most popular adventure activities in and around Taupo are jet boating, white water rafting, kayaking and bungee jumping, though offerings extend far beyond just these four. Those who prefer land activities can go quad bike riding, trekking, mountain biking and horse riding. Golfers might even like to have a go at winning $10,000 at the Lake Taupo Hole in One Challenge.

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Time Zone UTC+12
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Currency New Zealand Dollar
Area 132.57 km2
Population 23,700
Languages English, Te Reo Māori
Dining

The highest concentration of restaurants can be found along Tongariro and Tuwharetoa Streets, in the main tourist area of Taupo. International options include Indian, Thai, French, Italian, Japanese, Mexican and British. For the best contemporary New Zealand cuisine Taupo has to offer, don’t miss a visit to The Brantry on Rifle Range Road, where the twice-cooked pork belly is a must. Taupo also offers an opportunity to experience a traditional Maori dining experience at the Wairakei Terraces, just seven kilometres north of the town centre. Visitors are greeted by a fearsome ‘te wero’, a traditional ceremony to challenge the arriving party. Upon being accepted into the village, guests are taken on an educational tour, culminating in a delicious ‘hangi’ feast accompanied by singing, dancing, and of course the local haka. No adventure hotspot would be complete without its local watering holes, and Taupo is no exception. Craft beer lovers are in for a treat, with two amazing microbreweries within 10 minutes of the town centre - Crafty Trout Brewing Co on Tongariro Street; and Lakeman Brewing Co, just across the river in Nukuhau. If visiting the Riverside Market, pick up some freshly baked bread from the appropriately named Freshbake stall, try one of Bruce’s famous homemade sausages, or nibble on a half-metre strap of sweet and source liquorice from the Candylicious stall.

Shopping

If the Saturday morning soreness (or hangover) rules out any more adventure sports, wander down to the Riverside Market, off Redoubt Street in central Taupo. With a fantastic mix of vendors on show, shoppers can pick up anything from beauty products to wooden handicrafts. Grab a latte from Volcanic Coffee and enjoy a relaxing morning by the river. Those in need of some new adventure gear or clothing are well catered for in Taupo. Stores include Hikoi Taupo, Kathmandu, Pack & Pedal, Gordons Outdoor Equipment, Outdoor Attitude and Hunting & Fishing New Zealand - all of which are conveniently located in the town centre. In winter, ski gear can be hired from Pointons Ski Shop, Urban Edge or Gordon’s. Art buffs will be pleasantly surprised by L’Arte, a charming gallery in Acacia Bay. 10 minutes out of central Taupo but well worth the trip, L’Arte offers a concoction of delightful mosaics, colourful ceramic sculptures and perfectly manicured gardens. The icing on the cake is L’Arte’s cafe, where Taupo’s best brunch is served Wednesday to Sunday. There’s even live music from time to time, further adding to the irresistible ambience of L’Arte.