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287km (178 miles) SE of Auckland; 84km (52 miles) S of Rotorua; 155km (96 miles) NW of Napier

I've always found Taupo somewhat disappointing, but many New Zealanders practically worship this little lakeside town. Certainly, from a visitor's point of view, it makes a perfect central base from which to take in the area attractions. It's within half a day's drive of the Hawke's Bay wine region, the mountains and ski fields of Tongariro National Park, the thermal wonderland of Rotorua, the white-sand surf beaches of Bay of Plenty, and the glowworms of Waitomo.

Taupo itself also has its merits -- the vast sparkling waters of Lake Taupo are perfect for boating, water-skiing, and fishing; there are thermal pools, plenty of accommodations, some good, fast-paced outdoor activities, and a small permanent population of 30,000, which more than doubles in summer. There are also a number of new attractions and accommodations that make it a worthy stop. Make sure you take warm clothes because if it's not midsummer you're likely to freeze.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.