Lake Taupo. Lake in New Zealand, Oceania

Lake Taupo

Lake in New Zealand, Oceania

Lake Taupo Photo © billandkent

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Lake Taupo

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taupo_acaciabay - Lake Taupo
taupo_acaciabay - Lake Taupo. Photo by herself_nz
The beautiful Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake, and is equivalent in size to Singapore, covering 622 square kilometers.


Lake Taupo lies in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano, which erupted in a supervolcanic eruption around 26,500 years ago. The volcano has erupted 28 times in the last 27,000 years. The supervolcanic eruption is known as the Oruanui eruption, and was the world’s largest known eruption during the past 70,000 years, ejecting 1170 cubic kilometers of material. The eruption was reportedly large enough to change the sky as far away as Europe and China. The eruption caused several hundred square kilometers of surrounding land to collapse and form the caldera. The caldera later filled with water, creating Lake Taupo. The volcano is currently considered to be dormant, rather than extinct, because there has been moderate fumarole activity and hot springs along the shores of the lake.

Lake Taupo - Lake
Lake Taupo. Photo by Stefan Kellner


According to Maori legend, the North Island of New Zealand is a fish that explorer Maui fished up from his canoe (the South Island). The legend says that Lake Taupo is the pulsating heart of the Maui’s fish (New Zealand’s North Island). The iwi (tribe) of Ngati Tuwharetoa established a major pa (fortress) at the southern end of the lake, where the soil was fertile. They occupied the area for several hundred years before the establishment of Taupo town at the northern end of the lake in the 1800s by European settlers. Lake Taupo remains taonga (sacred) to the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe, and they maintain ownership of the bed of the lake and its tributaries. Free public access is granted for recreational use.

Rock carvings

Lake Taupo Carvings -
	Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo Carvings - Lake Taupo. Photo by Abaconda Management Group
One of the most famous features of Lake Taupo are the Maori rock carvings on the cliffs of Mine Bay, on the north west side of the lake. In the late 1970s master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell had completed his 10-year training period with Maori elders. To mark the occasion, he came to his mother’s land at Lake Taupo to undertake a significant carving. Matahi decided to depict Ngatoroirangi, a navigator who, according to Maori legend, guided the Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupo area over a thousand years ago. In reflection of the cross-cultural nature of New Zealand, Matahi also carved two smaller figures of Celtic design, which depict the south wind and a mermaid. The 10-meter high carving is intended to protect Lake Taupo from volcanic activities underneath. The carvings are only accessible by boat or kayak.

 - Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo. Photo by Pedro Vizcaino Pina


The Lake Taupo area is renowned for its top quality fishing. Rainbow and brown trout inhabited Lake Taupo itself, as well as surrounding rivers and streams. During winter months, huge numbers of large trout enter the rivers as they make their way upstream to spawn. This is the best fishing time, although in summer excellent fishing can be had in the shallows of the lake.

Great Lake Trail

The Great Lake Trail is an absolute treat for mountain bikers in all seasons. The trail takes you along the forested shores of Lake Taupo, with breathtaking views across to the peaks of Tongariro National Park. Beginning just 20 minutes drive from Taupo, the trail is graded 3 – Intermediate. The trail is divided into four sections, each of which can be tackled individually. The Great Lake Trail is 71km long in total (taking one to two days), but an end-to-end ride of 52km can be done from Western Bays Road through to Whakaipo Bay.

Bike hire is available, and transfers can be arranged from the start point at Waihaha (54 km from Taupo), or from the end at Whakaipo Bay (7km from Taupo). Water taxis also operate along the shoreline between Waihora and Kawakawa Bay.

Boat Cruises

A popular way to see the vast expanse of the lake is via a boat cruise. Many cruises visit the Mine Bay carvings, while others focus on trout fishing. The Otunui Paddleboat explores both the lake and the Mangakino Stream. If cruising in summer, take advantage of the warmer water and jump in for a swim!


The lake has a temperate climate. During summer temperatures average 23 degrees Celsius, and 11 degrees Celsius in winter. Rainfall is greatest in winter and spring, from June to December.

Getting there

Lake Taupo is centrally located in the middle of the North Island. From Auckland it is an approximately 3.5 hour drive along State Highways 27 and then State Highway 1. From Wellington, it is a 4.5-hour drive north on State Highway 1. The town of Turangi is located on the southern end of Lake Taupo, and is a gateway to Whakapapa (Wikipedia Article) ski field at Mount Ruapehu and Tongariro National Park.

Huka Falls at the northern end of Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s most visited attraction, where over 220,000 liters of water thunder over the cliff face every second. The falls are just five minutes drive from Taupo.

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Author: Amanda. Last updated: Mar 14, 2016

Pictures of Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo - Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo - Photo by Steve Cadman

Lake Taupo - Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo - Photo by Yidian Cheow

Untitled - Lake Taupo
Untitled - Lake Taupo. Photo by TAKEHIKO ONO

Lake Taupo - Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo - Photo by aloys_dharambure

Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo. Photo by Yoav F

Taupo lake new zealand - Lake Taupo
Taupo lake new zealand - Lake Taupo. Photo by Pierre Mallien

Tokaanu Marina #1 - Lake Taupo
Tokaanu Marina #1 - Lake Taupo. Photo by Sam Birch

Lizard Rocks - Lake Taupo
Lizard Rocks - Lake Taupo. Photo by islandinthepacific


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