Central: Taupō Volcano Zone

Mesmerized by plumes of steam, rainbow rocks, calderas, craters, boiling mud, and volcanos the Taupō Volcanic Zone called us back. Each time, a blog post sprouted a “Next Time” list grew. In the end, 26 days were not enough.

In This Post… Taupō in June, November, and February

  • June – nothing but rain in Taupō
  • November – blue skies for a perfect scenic flight in Taupō
  • February – summer tramping weather in Chateau Tongariro

Lake Taupō – Mauri Rock Carving

(pronounced TOE-paw or TOE-pour)

A caldera of a super volcano, NZ’s largest lake is 616 sq km. A pretty day on the lake, sailing the 1920’s yacht Barbary to a Giant Māori Rock Carving. Completed in the 1970’s, Matehi Brightwell’s contemporary artwork is a likeness of Ngatoroirangi (Nah-toe-roy-na-ee), an ancestral Māori navigator. The artist took no payment and holds a vision to add the traditional Paua Shell eyes.

Craters of the Moon

An unanticipated effect of a geothermal construction project, this 2-mile walkway winds through belching, boiling mud pits and steaming, hissing crevices.

Aratiatia Dam

The Waikato River produces about 50% of the North Island’s power. When its dam gates are opened the gorge is filled with a raging torrent of turquoise water.

Lord of the Rings: A filming location for the Barrel Ride, 25 barrels were dropped down the rapids; however, the Dwarves in the barrels was filmed on the Pelorus River in Marlborough.

Huka Falls

Down the road the Waikato River thunders over a 35-foot rock ledge – 200,000 liters/second are forced through and over a narrow gap that is only 200 feet across.

Taupō Town

Known as the rainbow trout capital of the universe, the average trout size is 4lbs. Trout cannot be purchased at markets or ordered at restaurants. You must catch you own.

Flight Seeing – And Then There Was This!

Flight Seeing on our final November day, after days of rain, the sky cleared over Tongariro National Park. It whet the appetite to see more, know more and experience the 3 active volcanoes up close. The weather always being iffy, fingers crossed for a return trip in February and “The Next Time” list.

A Visitor’s Paradise – Recommendations

This is a fraction of the attractions – not listed are heaps of family adventures. The most dramatic geothermal experiences are near Rotorua. The most dramatic walks/hikes are in Tongariro. Taupo is a day-trip or two.

Near Rotorua

  • Hobbiton
  • Blue Springs Putaruru
  • Hamurana Springs
  • Mt Tarawera Volcano
  • Spas – Hell’s Gate- Secret Spa
  • Okere Falls Track
  • Lake Rotoiti

In Rotorua

  • Redwoods
  • Polynesia Spa
  • Māori Culture – Te Puia
  • Buried Village Te Wairoa
  • Government Gardens

Best Geothermal

  • Waimangui Volcanic Valley
  • Wai-o-tapu
  • Orakei Thermal Park (Mihi)
  • Rotorua Kuira Public Park and foot soak


  • Aratiatia Dam
  • Huka Falls
  • Lake Taupō Sailing


  • Earthquake Museum
  • Trout Centre
  • Trout fishing
  • Desert Road (SH1)

Tongariro National Park

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Tama Lakes & Taranaki Falls Tracks
  • Silica Rapids, Ridge Trail
  • Whakapapanui Track – Tawhai Falls
  • Whakapapa Nature Walk
  • Whakapapa Ski Resort

There is simply not enough time.

  1. Read about Blue Springs and Green Trees – Stunning!
  2. Read about Hobbiton -Yes, it exists
  3. Read about Rotorua Geothermal Wonders – Prismatic Rotorua
  4. Read about Hiking the Volcano, Mt Tarawera – Blown To Oblivion!

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5 thoughts on “Central: Taupō Volcano Zone

  1. Again, I just love the crystal clear waters! The boat looks cool, especially if on a hot day! I like the statue of man holding his tongue especially being a Speech!! I feel that is me sometimes holding back what I really would like to say to some people! With others, you just say what you want as the comfort level is always there!

  2. Breathtaking. All of it. What a special place!

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