New Zealand in Focus
One of the best things about the Great Lake Taupo region is that there is so much to experience no matter the season. This active volcanic and geothermal location is home to Taupo, a stunning resort style town nestled right on the largest fresh water lake in Australasia. Taupo boasts a vast selection of cafes, restaurants and specialty shops, making it a great place to visit on your North Island road trip.
Travel 40 minutes south of Taupo and you will arrive in Turangi, situated on the southern end of Lake Taupo. Famous as New Zealand’s trout fishing hub, this is the perfect place to join the many other anglers in the chance to catch your dinner.
Before becoming famous for its starring role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, travellers visited this area from all over the world to hear the roaring Huka Falls up close, walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, trout fish on Great Lake Taupo and ski the slopes of the three ski fields of Mount Ruapehu.
Each summer over 70,000 hikers experience the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. For their efforts they are rewarded with spectacular scenery including emerald coloured lakes, an active crater, volcanic scenery and natural cold springs.
There are many tracks to choose from including a number of short walks through to four or six night challenges. The most popular option is the 19.4km one day alpine trek that starts from the Mangetopopo car park off State Highway 47, south of Lake Taupo.
We recommend getting in touch with one of the local tour operators before embarking on your hike as the weather can be changeable and the track challenging in parts. The professionals will be able to answer any questions you have in regards to your hike or you can even join a guided tramping tour to get the full experience.
If you are wanting to catch trout on your travels look no further than Lake Taupo or the rivers of the Great Lake Taupo region.
Turangi is widely known as the “Trout Fishing Capital of New Zealand” and along with the excellent conditions for fishing in the Tongariro River that runs through the town ship, it also houses the Tongariro National Trout Centre where you can learn more about the prime rainbow and brown trout that are common species of the area.
Hiring a fishing charter or fly fishing guide is a great option for those new to fishing or travelling without gear.
Just north of Taupo you will find the impressive Huka Falls. This 11 metre high waterfall is one of New Zealand’s most popular natural attractions for a reason – the 220,000 litres of water that flow over the top of the falls every second could fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in 11 seconds!
There are a number of walking tracks around the river and falls so you have the option to make a quick photo stop on your travels or spend a bit longer and find a nice spot for a picnic.
If you fancy yourself as a thrill seeker, book yourself on the Huka Falls Jet and get up close and personal as you travel to the falls at an exhilarating 80 km per hour.
From July until late spring Mount Ruapehu is the home to three of New Zealand’s most popular ski fields Whakapapa, Turoa and Tukino, all situated about one hour if each other.
The Wakapapa Ski area is the largest in New Zealand and is perfect for both newcomers and old hands with beginner’s areas, natural half pipes and over 65 trails that cater for even the most extreme skiers.
Non-skiers can still experience the snow with a toboggan or tube, or drive up the mountain for a hot drink and experience the stunning view first hand.
Check out one of the many ski and snowboard hire operators in the area to arrange gear and clothing rental, equipment repairs, or transport to the mountain.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan you can’t go past the Great Lake Taupo Region without visiting the Land of Modor and stopping off to see the sinister Mount Doom, aka Mount Ngauruhoe. The mountain was digitally altered to appear as the fiery Mount Doom during Frodo’s quest to save Middle-Earth.
Mount Ngauruhoe is a live volcano, with its last eruption in 1975. If you are up for the challenge (and have the right equipment) you can climb to the summit as a three hour return side trip on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Along with Mount Ngauruhoe, there are also a number of other sites in the Tongariro area that were captured in filming including: Iwikau Village, Whakapapa Ski Area, Mangawhero River, Ohakune Mountain Road, Mangawhero Falls, Tukino Ski Area
and Rangipo Desert. To find out where these locations featured in the trilogy click here.
For more information on the Great Lake Taupo & Tongariro area visit www.greatlaketaupo.com
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