Taupo. Town in New Zealand, Oceania

Taupo

Town in New Zealand, Oceania

Taupo Photo © www.greatlaketaupo.com

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Taupo

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Frame 28 -
	Taupo
Frame 28 - Taupo. Photo by njcull
Taupo is located at the northeast outlet of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, where it discharges into the Waikato River (Wikipedia
	Article). The river flows over the Huka Falls, a short distance north of town. Tongariro National Park is located to the south of Lake Taupo, one hour and fifteen minutes drive from Taupo.

Etymology

The name Taupo is the shortened version of its full name, “Taupo-nui-a-Tia”. In the indigenous Maori language this means “the great cloak of Tia”: Tia being the name of the discoverer of Lake Taupo.

History

The original Maori of the Taupo area, the Ngati Tuwharetoa iwi (tribe) came to the Taupo region after New Zealand landfall as an initial exploration group. Approximately 700 years ago the leader of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngatoroirangi, chose to settle his tribe at the southern end of Lake Taupo, where the soil was more fertile.

Early European settlement consisted mostly of missionaries who came and built churches, and converted Maori to Christianity. The land where the town of Taupo lies today remained largely uninhabited until 1869, when Taupo town was founded as an Armed Constabulary post. By the 1890s Taupo was becoming an expanding business town, and farming and agriculture slowly began to increase as land was cleared and fertilizer added. Taupo boomed in the 1950s, as farming began to flourish and the forestry industry was established. The region’s rapid success saw improved roads and buildings, bringing more residents and tourists to the region. Taupo currently has a population of around 24,000.

Life in the shadow of volcanoes -
	Taupo
Life in the shadow of volcanoes - Taupo. Photo by Laura Beasley

Attractions

Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa

Lake Taupo Carvings -
	Taupo
Lake Taupo Carvings - Taupo. Photo by Abaconda Management Group
The Wairakei geothermal steamfield produces water chock full of minerals, which pour out over silica terraces into pools at this must-see Taupo attraction. Take a walk along the Terraces Walkway and check out the re-created Maori village, including carvings depicting the history of New Zealand, Maori and local iwi (tribe) Ngati Tuwharetoa. Artificially constructed geysers imitate the famous Pink and White Terraces that were destroyed by the 1886 Tarawera eruption. After your walk, take a soak in the pools (open to ages 14 and above). The Terraces are open 8:30am – 8:30pm Friday through Wednesday, and until 7pm on Thursdays. The walk is NZD 18 for adults and NZD 9 for children. Entrance to the pools is NZD 25.

For an insight into Maori life, stick around until nighttime for the Maori Cultural Experience. With a traditional challenge, welcome, concert, tour and hangi meal, you will get an insiders look into Maori life. Prices are NZD 104 for adults, and NZD 52 for children.

Taupo Museum

The Taupo Museum has a gallery devoted to indigenous Maori history, along with more contemporary displays featuring local industries, early European history, and a gallery is devoted to local and visiting exhibitions. In the center is an elaborately carved Maori meetinghouse Te Aroha o Rongoheikume. In the courtyard you can find the “Ora Garden of Wellbeing”, a re-creation of New Zealand’s entry into the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show, which one the gold medal. The museum is open 10am – 4:30pm daily on Story Place. Admission is NZD 5 for adults and children are free.

Volcanic Activity Center

If you’re interested in the volcanic history and makeup of the Taupo region, or you just have kids to entertain on a rainy day, be sure to check out the Volcanic Activity Center. With displays explaining the region’s geothermal and volcanic activity, the center also features an earthquake simulator and short films on local eruptions and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The center is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 4pm Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is NZD 12 for adults and NZD 7 for children.

Lake Taupo PANORAMA -
	Taupo
Lake Taupo PANORAMA. Photo by ~ Pil ~

Hiking

The Taupo district boasts some of the best walks and hiking trails in the world. With a backdrop of mountains, lakes and forests, there are fantastic short and long walks, as well as multi-day options. Trails traverse all manner of terrain, from alpine heights, lake and river trails, through to areas of geothermal ad significant historic importance.

The Spa Thermal Park to Huka Falls track is a great walk for the whole family, taking around two hours return. Winding along the riverbank before finishing at the spectacular Huka Falls, this hike can be linked with the Aratiatia Rapids Walk, an additional four-hour return walk.

The Kinloch to Kawakawa Bay walk takes four hours return, begining at Kinloch beach before climbing from Whangamata (Wikipedia
	Article) Bay and along the clifftops. Admire the beautiful native bush before the track drops down to Kawakawa Bay.

The Tongariro Crossing is the jewel of the Tongariro National Park. The walk takes one day, passing by active volcanoes and impressive volcanic terrain. This is a walk for summer only, and you will be rewarded with unforgettable views including a mountain spring, old lava flows, volcanic craters, thermal steam vents, and the stunning emerald and blue lakes and native forest.

Where to eat

For a coffee, snack or a quick bite to eat, Taupo has some impressive café offerings. The Spoon & Paddle on Heu Heu Street combines 1950s style with excellent coffee, beer and meals (try the eggs Benedict), and is open daily 8am – 4pm. By day Storehouse on Runanga Street serves up consistently good coffee and food and by night it transforms into a bar with craft beer on tap, cocktails, wine and platters to share. Friday nights often feature live bands. Open daily from 7/8am until 4pm, and until late Thursdays through Sundays. Acacia Bay is home to the excellent L’Arte café, which offers delicious snacks and meals, as well as a sculpture garden and gallery. L’Arte is open 8am – 4pm Wednesdays through Sundays, and daily in January.

For a little more of a splurge, try The Bistro on Tamamutu Street. Making the most of local produce, The Bistro is popular with locals for a good reason. Open daily 5pm until late. The Brantry on Rifle Range Road is also a popular choice with locals for dinner, with classic meals served to perfection. Open from 5:30pm Tuesdays through Saturday.

Shopping

The Taupo area is home to a vibrant art community, meaning there is no shortage of galleries and shops to buy local wares from.

Lava Glass is, as the name suggests, home to unique glass sculptures that fill a gallery and garden at their location 10km north of Taupo on State Highway 5. If you fall in love with their sculptures, you can have them shipped anywhere in the world. Open daily from 10am – 5pm.

The Kura Gallery on Heuheu Street represents more than 70 artists from around New Zealand. Take your pick from weaving, carving, painting and jewelry, much of which is influenced by Maori or Pasifika culture. The gallery is open daily from 10am – 4pm.

On Saturday mornings you can’t go past the Taupo Riverside Market on Redoubt Street. Open from 9am to 1pm, the market houses stalls selling handmade souvenirs, arts and crafts, as well as the necessary shopping accompaniment of coffee and good food. Also on Saturdays (10am – 3pm) is Art in the Park, a small market held in Colonel Roberts Reserve on Lake Terrace. Here you can check out local artists and crafters and their products.

Accommodation

Taupo has a range of accommodation, with something to suit all tastes and budgets. The town fills up during late December and January and during major sporting events, so book ahead during these times.

Budget travelers have definite options for accommodation in Taupo. Tiki Lodge is a gem of a hostel, with lake and mountain views from the balcony and a great central location. Alternatively, try Taupo Urban Retreat, a hostel with a beach house vibe, as well as a bar and gym.

Mid-range travllers will have plenty to choose from, with a range of motels in town. The Dunrovin Motel is good value; with all the home comforts you need in a lovely garden setting. Likewise the Lake Taupo Top 10 Holiday Resort is a good choice, not only for their enormous heated swimming pool!

For an all-out treat, try the Hilton Lake Taupo. It comes with the luxury you’d expect from a Hilton. Definitely stop in to the on-site Bistro Lago Restaurant, where one of the country’s top chefs, Simon Gault (Wikipedia Article), is the head chef.

For a complete list of Taupo accommodation, check out http://www.tourism.net.nz/region/taupo/accommodation.

Attractions nearby

Taupo sits on the shore of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. There are plenty of things to do on the lake, including visiting the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, enjoying the excellent fishing, or tackling the Great Lake mountain bike trail. The nearby Huka Falls are just five minutes drive from Taupo, and are New Zealand’s most visited attraction, with over 220,000 liters of water thundering over the cliff face every second. Mount Ruapehu and Tongariro National Park are a short drive south from Taupo.

Getting there

Taupo centrally located in the middle of the North Island. From Auckland it is an approximately 3.5 hour drive along State Highway 27 and then State Highway 1. From Wellington it is a 4.5 drive north on State Highway 1. The town of Turangi lies 53 kilometers to the south.

Taupo Airport is located to the south of town. The airport is served by Eagle Airways, a subsidiary of national carrier Air New Zealand. Flights connect Taupo with Auckland, and Sounds Air flies to Wellington.

Other info

Taupo’s climate is relatively cold and windy, in comparison with other areas of the North Island. Winters are cool, with temperatures not often rising above 11 degrees Celsius during the day, and frosts common at night. Summers are mild, with an average maximum temperature of 23 degrees Celsius.

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Author: Amanda. Last updated: Mar 14, 2016

Pictures of Taupo

Taupo, New Zealand - Taupo
Taupo, New Zealand - Photo by Jinny

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