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Taupo is a town on the shore of Lake Taupo in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand. It is the seat of the Taupo District Council and lies in the southern Waikato Region.
Taupo has a population of 23,700 (June 2015 estimate). In 1953, Taupo was officially constituted as a borough, but from 1989 it has been administered by the Taupo District Council, the district including both Taupo itself and the surrounding hinterland. Despite this, it is occasionally referred to as a city. It is the 20th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the second-largest in the Waikato Region (behind Hamilton).
The name Taupo, by which the town is commonly known, is the shortened version of its full name,Taupō-nui-a-Tia. Literally translated from Māori language, Taupō-nui-a-Tiameans "The great cloak of Tia", where Tia is the name of the discoverer of the lake.
|FOUNDED :||Founded 1869|
Borough status 1953
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone NZST (UTC+12)|
• Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
|LANGUAGE :||English (official), Maori (official), Sign Language (official)|
|RELIGION :||Anglican 13.8%, Roman Catholic 12.6%, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Reformed 10%, Christian (no denomination specified) 4.6%, Methodist 3%, Pentecostal 2%, Baptist 1.4%, other Christian 3.8%, Maori Christian 1.6%, Hindu 1.6%, Buddhist 1.3%, other religions 2.2%, none 32.2%, other or unidentified 9.9%|
|AREA :||• Urban 132.57 km2 (51.19 sq mi)|
• District 6,970 km2 (2,690 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||360 m (1,180 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||38.6875°S 176.0694°E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.10%|
|ETHNIC :||European 56.8%, Asian 8%, Maori 7.4%, Pacific islander 4.6%, mixed 9.7%, other 13.5%|
|AREA CODE :||07|
|POSTAL CODE :||3330|
|DIALING CODE :|
Taupo, is a town on the northern shore of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, in the central North Island. It is built around the lake's outlet into the Waikato River, the country's longest river.
It is a popular tourist destination due to its lake, boating, trout fishing, geothermal attractions, waterfalls, outdoor activities and proximity to the North Island's highest mountains.
The Lake Taupo area is situated on a volcanic plateau. The lake, famed for its trout fishing and boating, fills the caldera of one of the largest super-volcanoes in the world, in a still active geological region. About 26,000 years ago, the lake area was a volcano that erupted in an enormous explosion that ejected about 800 cubic kilometres of material, spreading it over the central North Island and forming the Volcanic Plateau. The resulting depression became Lake Taupo after it filled with water draining off the surrounding hills. It last erupted about 1,800 years ago, reportedly turning the skies over China and Rome red.
Today, Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake by area, covering 616 square kilometres. It feeds the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest, with the water to run eight hydroelectric power stations. After leaving town, the river rushes through the tourist attractions of Huka Falls and Aratiatia Rapids.
The climate of Taupo is cold and windy when compared to other parts of the North Island. This is due to the town being located inland, which results in the accumulation of dry air causing severe frost during winter. However snowfall in Taupo is rare. The summer climate in Taupo is mild with maximum average temperature reaching 23 degrees and a minimum average temperature of 10 degrees.
Climate data for Taupo
|Average high °C (°F)||22.7|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||17.0|
|Average low °C (°F)||11.4|
|Source: NIWA Climate Data|
Taupo is located at the outlet of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, in the northeast part of the lake where it discharges to the Waikato River. The river flows over the spectacular Huka Falls, a short distance north of the town. Taupo is a centre of volcanic and geothermal activity and hot springs suitable for bathing are located at several places in the vicinity. The volcanic Mount Tauhara lies six kilometres (4 mi) to the east.
Somewhat to the northeast are significant hot springs. These springs contain extremophile micro-organisms that live in extremely hot environments.
Taupo is situated on a stretch of State Highway 1, running concurrently with State Highway 5. It is situated 53 km north of Turangi. It is one of the few centres in New Zealand that were never linked to the rail network.
The small but growing satellite town of Kinloch, where there is a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, is 20 kilometres west along the lake.
Taupo is a tourist centre, particularly in the summer, as it offers panoramic views over the lake and to the volcanic mountains of Tongariro National Park to the south. It offers a number of tourist activities including sky diving, jet boating and paragliding.
Taupo services a number of surrounding plantation pine forests includingKaingaroa Forest, the largest manmade forest in the world, and related industry. A large sawmill is sited approximated 3 km to the north east of the town on Centennial Drive.
The Wairakei geothermal power station is a few kilometres north of the town.
Taupo's neighbourhoods include:
- Wharewaka is a popular swimming spot for locals and has a growing new subdivision along with a large retirement village.
- Nukuhau lies north of the Waikato River. To the south west lies Acacia Bay and to the south lies Taupo town centre.
- Richmond Heights lies to the east of Rainbow Point and south of Mountain View. It is home to the Waipahihi Primary School, Richmond Heights shopping center, and the Waipahihi Botanical Gardens.
- Mount View
- Acacia Bay
- Rainbow Point lies north of Wharewaka and west of Richmond Heights. To the west lies Lake Taupo.
- Tauhara lies just north of Hilltop and east of Mount View. Mount Tauhara lies just east of Tauhara. Tauhara is the location of Tauhara primary school, Tauhara College and Tauhara Golf course.
- Hilltop lies south of Tauhara. Hilltop is the location of Hilltop School,Taupo Intermediate School, the Taupo Hospital, the Taharepa shopping centre and the Hilltop shopping centre.
- Gradwell is a suburb of Taupo. To the south lies Rainbow Point to the north is Hilltop. Gradwell is the location of the Waipahihi Botanical Gardens.
- Taupo CBD
- Five Mile Bay is located on the east side of Lake Taupo, south of Wharewaka and north of Waitahanui on State Highway 1 just west of the Taupo Airport. It is a popular swimming/water skiing beach which gets very busy in summer. Five Mile Bay is one of three similar named bays along the lake shoreline, the others being Two Mile Bay and Three Mile Bay.
Accessing the Internet is simple and easy, with Internet cafes and wireless hotspots available in the city centre, motels, restaurants, bars and clubs.
Available wireless hotspots
Wireless hotspots available within numerous areas or that cover a large area.
Prices in Taupo
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$12.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
Transportation - Get In
Taupo is located centrally lies on the junction of State Highway 1 and State Highway 5, making it accessible from most places in the North island.
Until recently, Taupo was a congestion spot over the Christmas/New Year period and on public holidays as two highways worth of inter-city traffic mixed with local traffic on the lake front. In October 2010, an eastern bypass of Taupo opened to take the two highways around the outside of the town rather than through it, easing the holiday congestion somewhat.
Approximate distances and drive times are:
- Auckland – 275 km / 4 hrs along State Highway 1 (alternatively, you can leave SH 1 at Pokeno, travel along SH 2 and SH 27 via Matamata and meet back up with SH 1 at Tirau, therefore avoiding Hamilton)
- Hamilton – 153 km / 2 hrs along State Highway 1
- Rotorua – 81 km / 1 hr along State Highway 5
- Napier – 142 km / 2 hrs along State Highway 5 (there are no petrol stations en route, so check your petrol level before leaving Bay View, on Napier's outskirts)
- Wellington – 370 km / 5 hrs along State Highway 1
Transportation - Get Around
The urban centre is very compact and is within easy walking distance of most hotels, motels and hostels, as are a number of the more popular activities. To explore further, there are several car rental companies and the popular "Hot Bus" shuttle, which has regular trips to the most popular tourist sites. In addition most activity operators offer a free pick up, drop off service. It is also possible to hire push bikes and motor scooters. Accommodation providers will be able to assist with all transport arrangements.
- Mountain Shuttle. Runs a shuttle for the Tongariro Crossing from a car park at the finish (Ketetahi) to the start. $30.
- Turangi Alpine Shuttles. Shuttle from Turangi at the south of Lake Taupo.
- Taupo Taxis, Gascoigne St, +64 7 378 5100
- Top Cabs, Tuwharetoa St, +64 7 378 9250
- London Taxi Cab, 0800 855 466. Tours only.
- Avis Rent A Car, 61 Spa Rd & Taupo Airport, .
- Backpackers Car Rentals, +64 7 376 9209
- Custom Rentals, +64 7 378 0440
- First Choice Rental Cars / Rent A Dent, +64 7 378 2740
- Hertz Rental Cars, +64 7 378 8056
- Pegasus Rental Cars, +64 7 377 0666
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Riverside Market (Taupos Local Marketplace), Riverside Park, Contact Sue, . Sa 10:00-13:00. Seasonal Fruits & Veges, Cakes & Biscuits, Apparel, Lavender Products, Free Range Eggs, Jewellery, Fresh Baked Bread, Curios & Collectables, Preserves, Arts & Craft, Books & Flowers. Also Car Boot Sale - First Saturday of every month.
McDonald's, 48 Roberts St (cnr Ruapehu St), . 24 hours. The only McDonald's in the world on an airplane! When the Golden Arches bought the site in 1990, it came with a decommissioned Douglas DC-3, and they incorporated it into the restaurant. The plane, complete with original cockpit, seats 20 diners.
- Plateau, 64 Tuwharetoa St, .
- Ploughmans, 43-45 Charles Cres, .
- Waterside Restaurant & Bar, 3 Tongariro St (near the lake on the corner of Tongariro St and Lake Terrace), , e-mail:[email protected]. 11am-10pm. For casual lunch or dinner. There are views of the lake and the mountains (Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu). Outdoor dining in summer and a fireplace to keep you warm in the winter. Also has a Pool Deck, a bar with three high-end pool tables, which is open from 4-10pm. Dinner mains $20–40; lunch: $12.
Coffe & Drink
- BodyFuel Cafe, 67 Tongariro St (on SH1 opposite Information Centre), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Daily 7:30AM-5:30PM.
- Eruption Cafe, Shop 15 Suncourt Plaza, 19 Tamamutu St, , e-mail: [email protected]. M-F 7AM-4PM; Sa, Su 8AM-3PM.
- Replete, 45 Heu Heu St, , fax: , e-mail:[email protected]. M-F 7:45AM-5PM; Sa, Su 8:30AM-late afternoon.
Sights & Landmarks
There are many sights of interest in the Taupo region, most of which are free of charge, and you should set a day aside to check out some of the sights. To get around the sights transport is a must - a mountain bike at the very least for people with some fitness or perhaps a rental car or shuttle for those who prefer to relax while on holiday.
- Aratiatia Dam, Aratiatia Rd (13km north of Taupo, off SH 5). The first dam in the Waikato Hydro power scheme. The gates are opened daily at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00 in summer and 10:00, 12:00 and 14:00 in winter, which causes the spectacular recreation of the Aratiatia Rapids.
- Huka Falls, Huka Falls Rd. New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction located just to the north of town on the Waikato river. New Zealand’s largest river is forced between a narrow split in the bedrock. Quite impressive with flows often exceeding 220,000 litres per second.
- Kinloch. A pretty lakeside village 15 minutes drive west of Taupo.
- Lake Taupo Museum and Art Gallery, Story Pl, . A small museum located near the centre of town behind the Great Lake Centre on Story Place. Contains exhibits on the Maori, volcanic and early European history of Taupo. A Maori meeting house is also recreated within the building and exhibitions of art by local and New Zealand artists are ongoing. The "Ora" garden which won the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show has recently been added in a specially created outside area.
- Lions Walk – A walkway starting in town and heading south for about 5 miles following the lake edge. Paved in places through the efforts of local service clubs.
- Waipahihi Botanical Reserve – Located in the suburbs has both vehicle and walking tracks through forest and gardens. Also boasts one of the best vantage points of the lake and mountains of the Tongariro National Park.
Being in the heart of the Taupo Volcanic Zone you don't have to travel far to encounter geothermal activity. There are several examples and, though not as heavily marketed or developed as those in nearby Rotorua, they provide a fascinating insight into the fragility of our planet.
Ten minutes north of town on Wairakei Road, the Wairakei steam field can be accessed by car and provides an insight into the tapping of the earth's heat for electricity generation. The 175MW Wairakei Power Station opened in 1958, the first geothermal plant in New Zealand and only the second commercial-scale geothermal plant in the world. Today, geothermal power stations in New Zealand produce 15 percent of the country's electricity requirements. Further north along State Highway 5 is the newer and smaller, but more prominent, Ohaaki Power Station. Its 105-metre tall natural draft cooling tower, like those typically found at nuclear power stations, stands out from the landscape for miles around.
- Craters of the Moon, Karapiti Rd, Wairakei (a few minutes drive north of town on Wairakei Rd – the old State Highway 1). Summer 08:30–18:00, winter 08:30–sunset. An easy 45 min (2.75 km) walk through an active and ever-changing other-worldly geothermal wonderland. Adult $8, child (5–12) $4, family $20.
- Orakei Korako, Tutukau Rd (25 minutes drive north of Taupo), . "The Hidden Valley" of Orakei Korako contains geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs, large silica terraces and the majestic Ruatapu Caves. Adult $36, child (6–16) $15, family $92.
- Volcanic Activity Centre, Karetoto Rd, Wairakei, .Weekdays 09:00-17:00, weekends & holidays 10:00-16:00. Karetoto Road. Just north of town in the Wairakei Tourist Park is the Volcanic Activity Centre which provides an insight into the Taupo Volcanic Zone. There are many interactive displays and educational tours through to university level can be arranged.
Things to do
There is no shortage of activities on offer in Taupo, be it an adrenaline rush or the more sedate - there is something for everyone! From the ever popular bungy, to Taupo being internationally known as a mecca for skydiving, to jet boating, trout fishing, scenic flights, and simple pleasures such as the AC Baths and the one and only Starlight Cinema!
Taupo Bungy operates not far from the town centre at the Hell's Gate section of the Waikato River. The location is quite scenic and utilises a custom-built cantilever platform protruding from a cliff face over the river. There is a cafe and several good vantage points. They are endorsed by the New Zealand Safety Standards Authority.
- Taupo Bungy, 202 Spa Rd, , toll-free: 0800 888 408.Daily except 25 Dec. Solo bungy jump $169, tandem bungy jump $338.
With New Zealand's largest river, the Waikato, flowing from Lake Taupo, there is little wonder that jet boating is available and there are three operators providing trips on various sections of the river. Jet boating is a very New Zealand activity and well worth the effort.
- Huka Falls Jet, Karetoto Rd, Wairakei (north end of road, next to Prawn Park), , fax: , e-mail:[email protected]. Minimum height 100cm (3ft 3.5in). Adult $115, child (15 and under) $69.
- Rapids Jet, Nga Awa Purua Rd, Aratiatia, , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Office hours, summer 9AM-5PM, winter 10AM-4PM. Children 5 yrs and over, minimum height 100cm (3ft 3.5in), life & spray jackets are provided. Adult $85, child $45.
- NZ River Jet, Tutukau Rd, Mihi (just off SH5, 34km north of Taupo), .
Taupo's natural scenery with its lake, forests and volcanic backdrop make for an excellent skydive location. Taupo is New Zealand's skydive Mecca, as people flock here to do a jump at the cheapest prices in the country. There are two companies operating from Taupo Airport: Taupo Tandem Skydiving and Skydive Taupo. Each company offers tandem skydives from both 12,000 and 15,000 feet and also provide various DVD and photo options to capture the moment. Taupo Tandem can also cater for experienced solo jumpers and a skydive school operates over the summer months which offers training to beginners.
With a surface area of 616 square km, Lake Taupo is the focal point for the town and its people and to truly appreciate it you really need to head out on it. There are many hidden bays and some spectacular views to be had from on the water. Well worth a look are the large Maori rock carvings that can only be accessed by water. Options available range from large powered charter boats to kayaks.
- The Barbary, Berth 10, Redoubt St, Taupo Boat Harbour, , e-mail: [email protected]. The Barbary is a 1926 racing yacht with an interesting history. It is quite popular and a good option for a sunny day.
- Chris Jolly Outdoors, Ferry Rd, Taupo Boat Harbour, , e-mail: [email protected].
- Ernest Kemp Cruises, 65 Redoubt St, Taupo Boat Harbour, .
- Fish Cruise Taupo (Taupo Launchmens Association), 65 Redoubt St, Taupo Boat Harbour, .
- The Junk, Taupo Boat Harbour, .
- Kayaking Kiwi, 413 Huka Falls Rd, Wairakei, , toll-free:0800 35 34 35.
- Two Mile Bay Sailing Centre, .
Chartered & fly fishing
Lake Taupo is widely considered to be the rainbow trout capital of the world and the lake's tributaries contain some fine brown trout. There are numerous charter and guiding companies that offer both lake and river fishing expeditions. The easiest way to find and book such trips is via local fishing stores and booking centres.
Chartered trout fishing
- Trout Catching, , , (mobile)fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Chartered trout fishing service. $85 per hour - 2hr minimum.
- Taupo Lake Adventures, 75B Kaimanawa St, , , (mobile)fax: , e-mail: [email protected].Chartered trout fishing & sightseeing.
- Windsor Charters, , e-mail: (boat), (after hours)[email protected]. Trout fishing, scenic tours.
- Lake Taupo Charter Boats NZ,, fax: . Fishing & cruising.
- Fish Lake Taupo Charters (Shoreline Safaris), 29 Tamatea Rd, , , (AH)fax: , e-mail:[email protected]. Trout fishing & sightseeing.
- White Striker Charters, 15 Matua Rd, File Mile Bay, , fax:, e-mail: [email protected]. Chartered trout fishing.$100-$135 per hour - 2 hours minimum.
- Te Moana Charters, , , (mob)fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Chartered trout fishing.
- Taupo Trout Fishing, , e-mail: [email protected].Professional guiding services by Andrew Christmas.
- Mark Aspinall Fly Fishing Guides, , e-mail: , (Mobile)[email protected].
- Gofish Taupo Regional Guides, , e-mail: , (mobile)[email protected]. Fly fishing.
- Free Time Fishing Adventures, . Guided fly fishing & casting lessons.
- NZ Fly Fish, e-mail: [email protected]. Fly fishing specialists.
- Fly & Gun Shop, 27 Gascoigne Street, +64 7 378 4449
- Taupo Rod & Tackle, 7 Tongariro Street, +64 7 378 5337. [www]
- Greenstone Fishing, 147 Tongariro Street, +64 7 378 3714.
With the natural beauty of Taupo and its surrounds a scenic flight is well worth considering. There are a number of companies offering flights ranging from 15 minutes to several hours over the town, lake, mountains and volcanic areas. Both helicopter and fixed wing flights are available.
There are many opportunities to walk in and around Taupo. Forest, mountains, guided walks and unguided.
- Awhina Wilderness Experience, e-mail: [email protected]. Open 7 days, half day/full day guided walks on Mt Titiraupenga.
- Mount Tauhara. The mountain sitting on the eastern edge of town can be climbed fairly easily, taking 1.5–2 hours (get directions from your accommodation). The views from the top on a clear day are remarkable, so take your camera.
Swimming & sauna
- AC Baths, 26 AC Baths Rd (cnr Spa Rd), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Daily 06:00-21:00. Adults $7.00, seniors (60+) and students (16-17) $4.00, children (5-15) $3.00, family $18.00.
- Taupo Hot Springs Spa (DeBretts), 76 Napier Taupo Road, , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Daily 08:30-21:30.
- Taupo Thermal Park, County Ave (From the Taupo Bungy, follow Spa Rd and turn left after 200 m). Find the bridge with the hot river that merges with the cold river. free of charge.
Family & children
- Mind Junction (fomerly Taupo Puzzle World), cnr SH 5 and Palmer Mill Rd(12.5 km north of Taupo), , e-mail:[email protected]. Daily 10:00-16:00.
- Topgun Paintball, , e-mail: [email protected].$35/person.
- Lilliput Farm (Fun & Animal Park), 136 Link Rd, Oruanui (10 km from Taupo - SH1 to Hamilton, Link Rd is first on the left, 4 km from the Wairakei turn off), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]nz. Weekdays 10AM-2PM, weekends & public holidays 10AM-4PM. Adults $12, children 2-15 yrs $6, family pass (2 adults + 2 children) $30.
- Taupo Horse Treks, Karapiti Rd, Wairakei Forest. Daily. Bookings essential.
- Experience Taupo, 57 Tongariro St, . Bookings for all Taupo-based adventure tourism.
- I-Site Taupo, Tongariro St, .
Festivals and events
Over recent years the event industry in Taupo has been thriving. A combination of attractive venues and a supportive community have been key to this growth. Taupo now hosts a number of major international and national events, including:
- Taupo Events (EventFinder.co.nz). Taupo has a lot more events than just these, although these are main events - they aren't the only ones. This is a list of all of the current events happening right now, tomorrow and next week!
- Great Lake Cycle Challenge. Started in 1977 with just 30 riders, this 153km road cycle around Lake Taupo now attracts over 10,000 entrants every year. It is also a round of the prestigious UCI Golden Bike Series. The last Saturday in November is when the event takes place.
- Ironman New Zealand. Taupo has been home to this event since 1999. Ironman New Zealand is the oldest event outside of the world championships in Hawaii. It is held on the first Saturday in March each year.
- Taupo Half Marathon. New Zealand's largest half marathon and also the biggest in the southern hemisphere, follows the shore of Lake Taupo for most of the course. Held in early August every year.
- Oxfam Trailwalker. The world's greatest team challenge to overcome poverty and injustice offers you a rewarding physical endeavour, a fun experience to share with friends and colleagues and the chance to do something amazing for yourself and others.
- Finn MacCuals Irish Pub, 10 Tuwharetoa St,.
- Kazbar (Bar and gaming lounge), 22 Tuwharetoa St, .
- Mulligan's Public House (Irish/backpackers Bar), 15 Tongariro St, . Daily 16:00-late.
- Pitch Sports Bar, 38-40 Tuwharetoa St, .
- Plateau, 64 Tuwharetoa St, . 11:30-late.
- The Clubhouse (Bar/restaurant), 10 Roberts St, .
- Tomi's (Bar/restaurant), 18 Tuwharetoa St, .