Naturally, Lake Taupo is all about the lake, and the first thing you can do in Taupo is to explore the lake in your own way. Swimming comes to mind, with associated water sports, snorkelling, jet skiing, water skiing to name some. These will have a range of price tags, so it depends upon your budget which you partake. And the weather will have a bit effect as well- you won't really want to be swimming in these waters in the depths of Winter! So, if the water gets too cold, you can walk around the Lake (or some of the way) or take to boating on it. Boats of all varieties are available, from kayaks to expensive launches. However, while you are enjoying your trip on the lake, don't forget to call in and see the Carved Maori Rocks. Another water experience that many people come especially to Taupo to do is trout fishing. This is not an inexpensive sport, however, as you need a permit as well as all the rods and paraphernalia involved. You may, of course, end up with a free dinner!
Taupo is a pleasantly set out town, and there are some delightful places to be discovered wandering around the Domain where the lake meets the town. Taupo has a Community Art collection of artwork sculptures that creep into the town, and some delightful and thought-provoking sculptures can be located in easy walking distance. You may even notice that the storm-water drains have a trout engraved upon them. Throughout Taupo, you will discover an eye-catching figure or shape that charms and appeals. There are some delightful shops to browse as well. In the Domain lookout for the 'Heartland' sculpture under the trees and the 'Cloak of Tia' in front of the Great Lake Centre. Another to watch out for is 'The Crossing' on the Lakeside. A train, the 'Lion Express', also runs through this park each weekend and holiday- public and school. Follow the waterfront around to Riverside Park, the Marina, and down the river and see the outlet that releases the waters that become the Mighty Waikato River.
The Spa Park is a park that has surprises for the uninitiated. Unless you are very fit, drive to the furthest parking area. Then wander down the track and you will see the Waikato meandering ahead of you. Carry on down the hill and discover the lovely warm waters of the Otumuheke Stream. If you choose to follow the stream you will find more pools to bathe in, some really hot ones! No changing facilities near the swimming hole, so be prepared. Continue following the Waikato River through a really pleasant bushwalk and eventually, you will arrive at the Huka Falls. This is an impressive display of the power of the River, with some 200,000 litres of water passing through the rock cutting every second. The Huka Falls can also be accessed from the road about 1.6 km north of Taupo. A very popular outing is viewing the Huka Falls from a jet-boat if your wallet will allow.
Having seen the hot water in the Spa Park, you may be interested in seeing more. A modestly priced area of activity is nearby at the Craters of The Moon. Wander the walkway to see mud craters, and pools, and steam vents. The Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley is also nearby and offers a range of similar activities with the excitement of the geothermal power plant right next door. A petting zoo and native birds add to the attraction of this camping grounds. There are hot pools also if you decide to stay here. The local Volcanic Activity Centre explains all about earthquakes, geysers and the causes of this activity. This is a fun way to learn and a great place to spend a rainy day. There are also spa pools in the town itself, with a number of hotels and camping grounds enticing visitors to stay with the offer of the use of pools.
5 - The Gardens
The Waipahihi Botanical Gardens are on the hillside overlooking Taupo and with dynamic views of the Lake and the mountains beyond. The natural native bush has been beautifully interplanted with some 2000 rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. There is a circuitous drive and a number of walks into areas of beauty and places with views. Picnic tables are often provided in these spots for a leisurely lunch. There is also the Lava Gardens where more than 600 glass sculptures entertain visitors. Scattered through the landscaped gardens, with a stream, bush, ponds, and a waterfall all intermingled with glass birds, and spheres and kaleidoscopes.
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