Taupo Walks and Hikes: Close to Town
Walkways link many of Lake Taupo’s residential streets, gullies and reserves – look out for the ‘Walkway’ signs.
Waipahihi Botanical Reserve
Follow SH 1 south from Taupo and turn left onto Shepherd Road (second left after the Napier/SH 5 turn-off). The reserve (35 ha) was formed in 1966 to create a park of forest trees and plants and to be a refuge for birdlife. Of special interest are the alpine garden, lemonwood walk and the 2,000 rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. There are walkways, beautiful lake and mountain views and attractive picnic areas.
Great Lake Walkway
Great Lake Walkway
Taupo to Wharewaka Point
This walkway is part of what may eventually become a track around all of Lake Taupo. From the Lake Taupo Yacht Club follow the path beside Lake Terrace to the Taharepa Road Reserve where a paved track skirts the lake edge to Two Mile Bay then Wharewaka Point. Ideal picnic and swimming spots can be found along the way. Toilets can be found in all of the bays and there is a children’s playground and barbecue facility at Wharewaka. Return via the same track or arrange transport back to town.
Wharewaka Point to Five Mile Bay
Drive south on SH 1 for about 6 km and turn off at Wharewaka Point. The walk begins at the reserve and follows a formed track on a terrace above the lake edge for 1 km, then passes through several paddocks to the Five Mile Bay Lakefront Reserve.
Control Gates Bridge to Spa Thermal Park
From the Control Gates bridge follow the true right of the Waikato River. Pass the waste treatment station on the right and at the end of the entrance road take a sharp left. Turn right after 20m and follow the path to Cherry Island. Head along the river to the steps up to Taupo Bungy. From the top it is only 200 m to Spa Thermal Park.
Huka Falls Walkway
Time: 2 hours return via the same track.
Turn right off Tongariro Street into Spa Road at the northern end of Taupo, then left into County Avenue and drive into Spa Thermal Park. Following the signs, walk for five minutes across the park to the Waikato River. Near the start of the walkway, a bridge crosses a natural hot stream. The well-defined track winds along the riverbank and offers lovely views on the way. The walk finishes at the spectacular Huka Falls, where the Waikato River is confined to a deep rock channel. The river emerges with a rush at the northern end to form the falls. A pleasant walk for the whole family. Return via the same track or arrange transport from Huka Falls carpark (across the bridge). This walk can be linked with the Aratiatia Rapids Walk.
Rotary Ride: Spa Thermal Park to Huka Falls
Time: 2 hours return via the same track
Spa Park to Huka Falls Trail
This is a shared bike track where walkers give way to bikes. Follow the signs from the end of County Ave (off Spa Road). The track crosses the Otumuheke Stream approximately 200m upstream from the Waikato River. From here the track meanders through gullies, twists around trees, runs alongside open farmland, crosses two bridged streams, passes through culverts and has great views of the Waikato River and open valleys.
Huka Falls to Aratiatia Rapids Walking Track
Time: 4 hours return via the same track
Follow SH 1 north from Taupo for about 1.6 km, turn right into Huka Falls Road and follow the signs to Huka Falls. A refreshment kiosk and pay toilets are located in the carpark. The track begins across the bridge. Head left to the last viewing area over Huka Falls. At the back of the viewing area the track climbs onto the cliff tops with magnificent views of the river. It then gradually descends and continues along the river to the Aratiatia hydro dam and rapids. Try to finish the walk when the control gates are due to open. Return via this route or arrange transport from Aratiatia.
Aratiatia Rapids Viewpoint
A short track to three lookouts over the Aratiatia Rapids begins 50 metres from the bridge on the true right of the river. The dam’s control gates are opened several times a day to allow the rapids to flow - a spectacular sight. Check times with the Taupo Visitor Centre.
Craters of the Moon Walking Track
Time: 1 hour loop track
Follow SH 1 north from Taupo for approximately 6 km. Turn left into Karapiti Road. Continue for 1.5 km to the Craters of the Moon carpark. This is a walk with a difference in a lunar-like landscape. It is a dynamic thermal area formed when drilling began nearby at the Wairakei Geothermal field in the 1950s. The walk features sizzling and bubbling craters, mud pools and steam vents. Keep to the boardwalks as constant changes in thermal activity can make the ground unstable and dangerous. Cycling is not permitted on this track but is allowed on the adjacent Craters of the Moon Mountainbike Tracks.
Waikato River Walking Track
Time: 1 hour one way
This walk begins at the Huka Falls carpark and ends at Otupo Flat. Return on the same track or arrange return transport. Five minutes down the track there is a grassed area with a good view back to the falls. From here there is a short steep climb up to a road then the track drops again to the river and ambles along through a variety of terrain and vegetation. There are several short side tracks to points of interest along the way.
Acacia Bay Walking Track
Time: Varies depending on distance and route taken.
Follow SH 1 north across the Control Gates, turn left onto Norman Smith Street, then left into Acacia Bay Road. Turn left into Te Kopua Street and park at the end of the cul-de-sac. The path starts in the Te Kopua Point Reserve and follows Acacia Bay Road and the lake edge from Te Kopua Point through Acacia Bay North to the Whangaroa Reserve in Acacia Bay South.
The path can be joined at various places along Acacia Bay Road, and varies from a lake edge track through grass or native trees, to a cobbled walkway along the side of the road. At Acacia Bay North, the path leaves the beach near the toilets, and follows the road around Waikereru Point between the two bays. The path then leaves the road before re-emerging on the lake edge reserve at Acacia Bay South near the Whangaroa Reserve boat ramp.
Rangatira Point Walking Track
Time: 1.5 hours return
Follow Acacia Bay Road past the boat ramp and on for another 2 km. The track starts at the first carpark on the left. The track leads around the lakeshore to Totara Bay. There is a large group of pines at Te Karaka Point at the far end of the bay. A side track from this point leads back to Acacia Bay Road. The main track continues to Rangatira Point then loops back to meet the road. Excellent lake views. Vehicle access to both ends of this track.
Whakamoenga Walking Track
Time: 1 hour return via the same track
Follow Acacia Bay Road to the roadend carpark. Begin on the Rangatira Point Track. Turn right at the first junction. An easy graded track runs through the bush beside the lake around to Whakamoenga Point. There are good views across the lake from many points along the walkway. Please respect adjacent private property by staying on the track. Note: The Rangatira and Whakamoenga Point Tracks can be walked together (2.5 hours return).
Time: 20 minutes return
Connects Mapara Road to the end of Brunette Drive. A boardwalked track through native planting restoration areas. Magnificent views.