Experiencing Taupo as a First Timer

Like most destinations in New Zealand, Taupo is a must do! As one of the last places to visit on our list of NZ travels we took a long weekend and the five-hour drive from Welly to the centre of the North Island to experience nature’s finest creations.

The State Highway 1 Drive into Taupo 

offers stunning scenery. Of course, it helps to be blessed with a good day making the views all the more picturesque. It took me a while to figure out why driving for hours on end in NZ isn’t half as boring as it would be in the UK. But now I know, it’s the scenery and serenity that would be hard to find anywhere else. Cruising along these kinds of highways makes it the perfect country for a road trip rather than a plane ride.

The first and most jaw-dropping sight as we neared the town was Lake Taupo (pronounced Toe-paw as my kiwi friends keep reminding me). A landmark in its own right as the biggest lake in Australasia, so big it could fit the country Singapore into it. Whenever it came into sight during the trip I had to remind myself it was a lake and not the open sea.

Taken from Lake Taupo Scenic Lookout

Apparently a trip to Taupo isn’t the same without brunch at Spoon and Paddle

Just a few streets back from the lakefront you’ll find this little gem perched on the corner of Heuheu Street. It reminded me more of a house with a veranda and garden than a cafe. I knew instantly this was the place to eat breakfast and relax for the morning.

The most visited tourist attraction in New Zealand

is a must on a good day. You can easily see Huka Falls by driving right to it but where’s the fun in that? Start the Huka Falls Walk at the Spa Park and end it on a high, with 220,000 litres of water per second disappearing before your eyes. The stroll along the river is effortless and there are some beautiful spots along the way to take in. If you feel like rewarding yourself on the way back have a soak in the natural geothermal waters to the left of the wooden bridge.

If like us you decide to visit Craters of the Moon on the same day you won’t have to go far. Directly opposite the Huka Falls turn, you can witness some up close and personal volcanic activity. The walk around the various craters took around 30 minutes with an additional 10 minutes up to the lookout point. There is an $8 fee to see the craters which covers the cost to maintain facilities at the site. It was fascinating to see and read about them but I’m pretty sure once you’ve seen one of these landscapes you’ve seen them all. And the stench of sulphur didn’t leave me wanting to go back for more.

On our drive home, we took a pit stop at the Woolshed, a well-known cafe about two hours into the drive. It was the perfect place for a bite to eat before getting back on the road.

When reflecting on a weekend away in Taupo, it made me realise how diverse New Zealand actually is. There’s always something fascinating and new to discover. And the best part is I’m yet to see it all.

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