Join me as I explore walks around Taupo

If you love the outdoors and are planning a hiking trip to Taupo in New Zealand’s North Island, you’re in for a treat. Taupo is packed with amazing walks that cater to all levels, from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. Let me share my favorite walking spots in Taupo, including Aratiatia Rapids, Huka Falls, Kawakawa Bay, and Mt Tauhara. I’ll also give you some tips on the best times to visit as well.

Map of all the walks in Taupo

Click on the map to open it and see all our walks in Taupo.

View from the lookout with the gates open showing the Aratiatia Rapids
View from the lookout with the gates open showing the Aratiatia Rapids

Aratiatia Rapids

Description: Aratiatia Rapids is a stunning spot where the Waikato River squeezes through a narrow gorge, creating a powerful rush of water. This happens when water is released from the Aratiatia Dam a few times a day for the Aratiatia Power Station. I was blown away by the huge volume of water gushing out, worth a look.

Walking Experience:

  • The Aratiatia Rapids Walk is short and easy, leading to several viewpoints overlooking the rapids.
  • It takes about 10-20 minutes one way, depending on how long you stop to enjoy the views.
  • Only visit during the dam releases, it’s pretty boring otherwise! This is usually at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm in the summer, and at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm in the winter. Summer seems to end at the beginning of April.
The world famous Huka Falls in Taupo - (4)
Great view of the mighty Huka Falls from the side path

Huka Falls

Description: Huka Falls is one of New Zealand’s most famous waterfalls, where the Waikato River roars through a narrow canyon and plunges 11 meters into a foaming pool below. It’s pretty spectacular and a must see when visiting Taupo! It took heaps of photos all over the place, it was that good.

Walking Experience:

  • The Huka Falls Walk is easy and well-maintained. It starts from Spa Thermal Park and follows the Waikato River to the falls.
  • It’s about 3 kilometers one way and takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
  • The walk is stunning with lovely views of the river and native bush along the way. 
  • You won’t believe how clear the river water is.
Here's me sitting at the Kawakawa Bay lookout
Here's me sitting at the Kawakawa Bay lookout

Kawakawa Bay

Description: Kawakawa Bay is a hidden gem on the western shores of Lake Taupo, known for its clear waters and beautiful scenery. It’s a peaceful spot, perfect for a relaxing walk and maybe a picnic. I sure did need that rest at the top, but what a view ah!

Walking Experience:

  • The Kawakawa Bay Track is a moderate trail starting from Kinloch and leading to the bay.
  • It’s about 10 kilometers return and takes around 3-4 hours to complete.
  • The trail goes through native bush and offers stunning views of Lake Taupo and the surrounding mountains.
Views from the top of Mt Tauhara out to lake Taupo
Views from the top of Mt Tauhara out to lake Taupo

Mt Tauhara

Description: Mt Tauhara is an ancient volcanic peak that stands out east of Taupo. From the summit, you get incredible 360-degree views of Lake Taupo, the town, and the surrounding farmland, its amazing. This is a gut buster for sure, I had to keep reminding myself it would be well worth it for the views.

Walking Experience:

  • The Mt Tauhara Track is a challenging hike starting from the Mountain Road car park.
  • It’s about 2.8 km one way and takes around 2-3 hours to reach the top.
  • The track is steep and requires a good level of fitness, but the views from the summit are absolutely worth it.
Standing at the small viewing platform with the mighty Huka Falls rushing past

Best Time to Visit Taupo for a Walk

From my experience, the best time to visit Taupo for walking is during the warmer months from November to April. The weather is usually mild and perfect for hiking up big hills! Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are also great, with fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. Just make sure to check the weather forecast before you head out. Walking in winter can get pretty miserable, wet and very cold.

Top things to do while you’re in Taupo

While you’re between walks, explore Taupo further on a tour. Save a bunch of money with last minute bargain tours in Taupo. I’ve done the research so you don’t have to. I’ve picked out the 3 best ones, believe me they ARE the cheapest you’ll find.

If you’re visiting Taupo, here are a few more walks I’d recommend checking out:

Tongariro Alpine Crossing in summer time with very little snow - this is rare!
Tongariro Alpine Crossing in summer time with very little snow - this is rare!

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Description: Often described as one of the best day hikes in the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is challenging but incredibly rewarding. It’s one of our “Great Walks”. The track takes you through stunning volcanic landscapes, and vibrant emerald lakes. This is still on my bucket list of big walks to do.

Walking Experience:

  • This is a strenuous, full-day hike, covering 19.4 kilometers.
  • It takes about 7-9 hours to complete, depending on your pace and the weather.
  • The scenery is outstanding, with highlights including the Red Crater, Blue Lake, and Emerald Lakes.
Views along the walkway at Craters of the Moon
Views along the walkway at Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

Description: Craters of the Moon is a geothermal walkway located just north of Taupo. It features bubbling craters, steaming vents, and colourful mineral deposits. Such a fasinating area. Even though I had to pay a small fee to get in, it’s awesome.

Walking Experience:

  • The walk is easy and suitable for all ages, taking about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • It’s a loop track with boardwalks and gravel paths, making it accessible even for those with limited mobility.
  • The geothermal activity is fascinating, and there are informative signs along the way.
Hot water pool on the Huka Falls walk next to the Waikato River
Hot water pool on Otumuheke Stream Walk

Otumuheke Stream Walk

Description: Otumuheke Stream is a hot thermal stream that flows into the Waikato River. It’s a popular spot for soaking in the (small) hot pools and relaxing in a natural setting. Bring your swim gear like I did and go for a dip.

Walking Experience:

  • The walk is easy and short, taking about 20-30 minutes.
  • The trail follows the stream through Spa Thermal Park, and you can stop for a soak in the hot pools.
  • It’s a great spot to relax and unwind after a day of exploring.
You'll start here at the marina or Taupo boat harbour.
You'll start here at the marina or Taupo boat harbour.

Lake Taupo Great Lake Walkway

Description: This awesome scenic lakeside walk is perfect for a stroll. It has beautiful views of Lake Taupo and the surrounding mountains. It can be cold, wrap up warm! I love walking along the lakefront there is so much to see.

Walking Experience:

  • The walkway is flat and easy, suitable for all fitness levels.
  • It stretches for about 10 kilometers, but you can choose shorter sections if you prefer.
  • There are plenty of picnic spots and cafes along the way, making it a relaxing outing.
Kaimanawa wild horses near Taupo
Kaimanawa wild horses near Taupo

Kaimanawa Forest Park

Description: Kaimanawa Forest Park offers a variety of walks through beautiful native bush, along with biking tracks. You might be lucky enough to see the Kaimanawa wild horses like I did.

Walking Experience:

  • There is the 2-4 day Boyd, Oamaru & Cascade hut tracks.
  • Popular short walks include the Pillars of Hercules and Urchin Camp, both of which take about an hour. Tree Trunk Gorge is around 2.5 hours.
  • The park is less crowded than other spots, offering a peaceful nature experience.
Trout at the Taupo Trout Centre
Trout at the Taupo Trout Centre

Taupo Trout Centre

Description: The Taupo Trout Centre is a fascinating spot to learn about trout and freshwater ecology. It’s located near Turangi, at the southern end of Lake Taupo. The center offers interactive exhibits, an underwater viewing chamber, and beautiful walking tracks along the Tongariro River. I could have sat there for hours watching the trout swim around, I could just about touch them too.

Walking Experience:

  • The walks around the Taupo Trout Centre are easy and family-friendly.
  • There’s a short loop walk that takes about 30 minutes and follows the river, offering lovely views and plenty of spots to watch for trout.
  • You can also learn about the life cycle of trout and the conservation efforts in the area.

Visit the Taupo iSite for more walk info and weather conditions

Taupö i-SITE Visitor Centre
Tongariro Street, Taupo
Ph +64 7 376 0027
0800 LAKE TAUPO (525 382)
Text 027 GREATLK (4732858)

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See all of my walks nearby in the Waikato Region