We drove from Rotorua to Taupo. On the way to Taupo, we dropped by Huka Falls. The main reason we went to Taupo is because it’s where most people stay to do the Tongairo Alpine hike.
Taupo was a picturesque town that sits next to a lake called Lake Taupo, how fitting. This lake is gorgeous and you can swim in it. It sits in the caldera of a volcano that began erupting about 300,000 years ago. If you’re into sailing or water-skiing, Taupo is the place to be. You can also take a boat tour to Mine Bay where you can see giant hand-carved Maori rock carvings only accessible from the water.
What to Do
1a. Huka Falls
Huka Falls Views
This nice waterfall is easy to drive to from Taupo and once you get there, there are tons of trails you can take. The waterfall is right next to the parking lot. You can also do the Huka Falls shotover jet.
Natural spa water
We took this beautiful trail that was 1 hour each way. It’s a popular tourist track that follows the Waikato River above the Huka Falls and provides some fantastic views as well as other activities. Bring your swimsuit because you can swim and lay around in the Spa Thermal Park.
Known as one of the best hikes in the world, this hike shows you a lot of different landscapes and sights rarely seen. This 6-8 hour hike is done by tons of tourists of all ages and sizes. It’s an intense, arduous hike but it’s doable for leisurely hikers or anyone in reasonable shape. The key is that you MUST MUST MUST be prepared ahead of time for it. You should and must plan ahead and make sure you are carrying everything required to do the hike. If you’re doing it in summer or winter – PREPARE. Winter is worse – gotta prep more.
I took a little less than 6 hours to complete the entire hike including two breaks (one for lunch and one for a snack before the downhill). You don’t need hiking poles but they do help – I did it without poles.
In the summertime, this means you should have:
- Water bottle (2 liters)
- Warm hat/beanie (for cold)
- Sun hat (for sun)
- Warm gloves
- Warm pants (preferably thermal and then waterproof pants on top)
- Waterproof jacket
- Warm inner layers (thermals) – preferably two like one wool layer and then another fleece on top
- Breakfast, lunch, and snacks
- Hiking boots
- Warm socks
You’ll need to reserve your shuttle ahead of time. Make sure you check the weather before driving there because all shuttles could be canceled due to weather – it’s very variable throughout the year. We left Taupo at 5:45am to drive to the car park. Drive ~1 hr. At 6:45am, we arrived at Tongariro Shuttle Car Park, a security day park located opposite side of highway from Ketetahi Carpark forest entrance. Entry is on state highway 46, (Lake Rotoaira Rd), Rangipo, 6 kilometres from state highway 47 turnoff or 12 kilometres from state highway 1 turnoff. Sign reads: TONGARIRO SHUTTLE CARPARK. At 7:15am, the shuttle leaves to the beginning of the trail.
Do check out the Resources section to prepare for the hike.
What to Eat
We went here for dinner before our Tongariro hike and it was delicious. I had the fish and everyone else got the beef. The place isn’t spectacular but it’s a nice, pricey sit-down restaurant.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Suncourt Hotel & Conference Centre. It was spacious for the four of us and clean. The room came with a kitchen. Wi-fi was a little difficult to connect to but asking the front desk to reset it was easy and helpful. They are located at 14 Northcroft St, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
JoYo Guide to Taupo is part of the New Zealand Map here.