Most of Taupo’s interesting attractions are just north of the town in a cluster around the Wairakei Tourist Park. The visitor center has a good brochure on this area. At the top of the hill as you leave town heading north, turn right onto Huka Falls Road and stop first at the Huka Falls Lookout. The falls themselves aren’t huge, but they are impressive for the speed at which the blue-green water of the Waikato River moves over the 24m (79-ft.) drop. You can walk alongside the gorge on a path and across the rushing water on a footbridge, which provides a safe but thrilling way to enjoy the falls. It’s a dramatic spot to get photographs of the jet boats and cruise vessels as they come right up to the foot of the falls. You can also walk to the falls from Taupo.

After you visit the other attractions in this area, divert down Aratiatia Road on your way back into town to see the Aratiatia Rapids. The gates of the dam above the rapids open every day at 10am, noon, 2pm, and 4pm from October to March. In less than 10 minutes, the dry riverbed goes from an empty basin of boulders to a raging river. After about half an hour, the gates close, the released water flows downstream, and the dry bed reappears. It’s fascinating to watch. The best view is about 5 minutes’ walk downstream, but you can also observe from the lookout.

The Taupo Museum, Story Place, Tongariro Domain, Taupo (tel. 07/376-0414;, is open daily from 10am to 4:30pm (closed Good Friday and Dec 25). Galleries display Maori art and culture, and a wide selection of exhibits related to fishing, the timber industry, geology, and the lake. Check out the unique New Zealand garden that was a gold medal winner at England’s Chelsea Flower Show in 2004; and their caravan and New Zealand camping holiday display is delightful. Admission is NZ$5 for adults, free for children 17 and under. They offer a free guided heritage walk on Sundays at 2pm.

Just for Kids

Lilliput Farm, 136 Link Rd. (tel. 07/378-2114;, is a 4-hectare (10-acre) treat for kids who like animals. They can hand-feed 20 different species and enjoy pony and donkey rides. The farm is open Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm, weekends 10am to 4pm. Admission is NZ$12 adults, NZ$6 children 5–12, NZ$30 families. Follow SH1 to Hamilton. Link Road is the first left, 4.5km (2 miles) from the Wairakei turnoff. Watch for signs.

Soaking in Taupo Hot Springs

Set in the unique natural Onekeneke Thermal Valley, Taupo De Bretts Resort, Hot Springs & Spa, Napier/Taupo Road, State Highway 5 (tel. 07/378-8559;, has been a favorite bathing spot for over 120 years. The water here is said to be the ultimate in providing therapeutic relief for muscular, bone, and skin ailments. Pools are filtered, drained, and cleaned every night. The pool complex is not as big, as modern, or as attractive as Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa, but it’s definitely cheaper and feels just as good, and there is no sulfur in the water here. Facilities include 12 private pools, a children’s pool, two Jacuzzis, a hydroslide, a volleyball court, pétanque, and a barbecue area. Admission to the public pools costs NZ$15 for adults, NZ$4 for children ages 3 to 12; NZ$5 for the giant dragon slide; barbecue rental from NZ$10. Private pools cost from NZ$18 for adults, and spa treatments range from NZ$60 to NZ$160. The complex is open daily from 8:30am to 9:30pm.

If you don’t have time for a soak in Taupo, you can stop at the Tokaanu Thermal Pools.

Fun Savings

If you plan on making the rounds of adventure activities, check out the savings that package deals represent. The visitor center and Experience Taupo will point you in the direction of seasonal savings.

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.