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Taupo

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The Lake Taupo and the City of Taupo are among the most beautiful landscapes in New Zealand, kind of "post card" place if you know what I mean. The City and lake are located just 45 minutes by road from Rotorua, or a little bit more than 3 hours from Auckland. The city of Taupo has around 21,000 inhabitants and moves in a wonderful slow pace. Peace and admiration to the creation of Nature is the feeling you may have while standing at the margins of the lake. At the opposite side of the lake, a much smaller town called Turangi, works as a start up place to treks and snow ski at Tongariro National Park. In good days, the air in this area gets so clean that the sensation one feels is to have X ray vision due the distance your eyes can see through the terrain.

Taupo as Rotorua has plenty of volcanic activities located nearby the town. The Wairakei reserve (photo) is open to public visitation with many smelly and interesting thermal activity. Orakei Korako, is another thermal reserve with different attractions including one of the biggest silica terraces in the world. One interesting detail about Taupo, is the fact that the whole North Island was formed from there, with a giant volcanic eruption officially classified as "cataclysmic" or the last degree on geologic scales for volcanic eruptions. Lake Taupo itself is the largest volcanic "caldera" in new Zealand. The cold water of lake Taupo still hides thermal manifestations in the bottom of the lake such as fumaroles or cracks in the base, that expels vapours and gases. The big eruption we are talking about happened about 5,000 years ago, but the specialists say Taupo one day will blow up again. Anyway, while these thing don't happen (and I hope never will)  we enjoy this place which is absolutely fantastic.

There is a world  of things to do in Taupo, both in the city or at the lake. In the city, restaurants offer delicious Trout dishes capable of making even the best chef cry due the incredible taste. Hot water spas, Art and Craft shops, Maori artefacts, and excellent pubs and night clubs guarantee entertainment for all ages. Accommodation is not a problem either with plenty of good hotels, resorts, backpackers hostels, bed & breakfast and motels. The Huka Falls, (photo), is just 10 KM before Taupo (coming from Rotorua) and can be visited for free, including well chair access. The volume and the light blue colour of the water are really impressive. The river flows in high speed in a narrow canal, and suddenly drops all the water in a good size waterfall. If you are ready for emotion, take the Huka Jet which will take you to a 30 minutes ride on the river finalizing you some 360º turns right in front of the fall (photo). If you want something calm, you can go for one of those fantastic Golf fields they've got there. Another challenging golf thing, is to try from the margin of the lake to hit the hole in a floating pontoon. They offer prize money for those who do the task. Spectacular trekking nearby Taupo lead you to other waterfalls and beautiful places with native trees. 

Lake Taupo, is not only famous for the Trout fishing but also for the number or activities you can do in the lake. For example, you can go in great style to dine out in a cruise around the lake. If you are in a budget, there are smaller boats that offer tours or you can rent your own boat and cruise by yourself. Kayak tours are also offered by many local operators including one tour that goes to a sacred Maori place, where sculptures on rocks were made by ancestors. (photo). If you want to view the lake from the top, paragliding if offered from the back of a fast boat. If you are not afraid of cold water, try water ski on the lake. Another very interesting thing to do is get in the car and explore the lake margins by road. There some spots and picnic areas that you can spend moments of absolute tranquillity with a great view. Sometimes pumice rocks from the latest Ruapehu eruption can be found floating or on the dry sand. If the weather is not good there is a very interesting indoor place called  Volcanic Activity Centre, where you can learn and experiment in a simulator, earthquakes, tornados, volcano eruptions, and much more, including a fantastic tutorial about tectonic plates.

On the other side of the lake, the town of Turangi (pop 3500), is a good base to explore Tongariro National Park. The town is small with not much to do, but there are some interesting things that may not pass in blank. One of these is the National Trout Centre, where you can see Trouts in a tank and learn lots of details about Trout's life. Some shops in town rent snow ski equipment for a better price than on the top of the mountain. A few Kilometres before arriving in Turangi, there is a small marina, where we rented a small boat and motor to go trout fishing in the lake (fishing gear included). We also had to pay A$ 18 per person for a Trout fishing license. In average the Trouts in this part of the lake are around 2 kilos in weight and the best times are February and March for Rainbow Trout and August/ September for Brown Trout. We came back empty handed due our lack of experience in Trout Fishing, but in compensation the views from the boat were breathtaking. Anyway, to cure our frustration, we had an spectacular trout dish at a Turangi restaurant. Above all, it was a great time we had in Lake Taupo and Taupo city. We recommend any tourist not to miss it, and spend at least a couple of days there.

Rapid Jet

Bungy Jump

Kayaking in the lake

 National Park Tour

Tourist attractions in Taupo

Distances by road from Taupo to:

Auckland 279 Km 4 Hours
Rotorua  82 Km 1 Hour
Napier 139 Km 1 Hour & 45 min
Hamilton 154 Km 2 Hours & 10 min
Wellington 368 Km 5 Hours & 10 min
Turangi 30 Km 40 minutes
Tongariro (end of  NP) 144 Km 2 Hours
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