Walks & Hikes around Turangi
On the southern shores of Lake Taupo lies the charming township of Turangi, home to some of the region's most stunning and memorable walking trails and hikes.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Time: 6 - 8 hours, 19.4kms
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing track passes over spectacular volcanic terrain, past active volcanoes with geothermal steam vents, and magnificent emerald-coloured lake.
Start Tongariro Alpine Crossing from the carpark at the Mangatepopo Rd end, 7km off SH47. Travel 1 - 1.5 hours to Soda Springs and onto the South Crater (1 hr) and the Red Crater (20 mins). The summit of the Red Crater is the highest point on the Crossing and from here the track descends past the Emerald Lakes (1 - 1.5 hrs) down to Ketetahi Hut. A further 1 - 2 hours walking takes you to the Ketetahi carpark.
Careful preparation for is essential for the Tonagriro Alpine Crossing. The rugged alpine trek climbs to 1900m so tramping experience, hiking boots and waterproof winter clothing is recommended.
The Crossing begins and ends at different points so return transport must be arranged. This can be done directly with commercial shuttle operators or through the visitor information centres. Transport leaves from Turangi and Taupo. For more information see our Tongariro Alpine Crossing section.
Tongariro River Trail
Time: 3 1/2 hours loop walk
Turangi has many wonderful walks but the most popular would be the Tongariro River Trail. Recently developed into a loop people can now walk for about three and a half hours without covering the same section twice.
Beautiful vistas of Lake Taupo, the Tongariro River and Mt Pihanga combined with pockets of gorgeous native bush and trees like matipo and rewarewa make for a diverse and interesting walk. In the summer tui are attracted to the copious kowhai trees and sometimes kereru (wood pigeon) and morepork can be spotted. Fantails and other birdlife are abundant.
The trail can be broken into two sections and starts officially at the Turangi i-SITE. As the i-SITE is open seven days a week grab a map from the i-SITE staff to assist with directions. The path leads to the Turangi Bridge Motel and people can read the mosaic artworks on the way completed by local schoolchildren, depicting the history and cultural significance of Turangi.
From the State Highway One bridge (there is a footpath on the bridge), a one hour loop can be completed to the Major Jones suspension swingbridge. This track climbs high so there are amazing views of the lake, river and Mt Pihanga.
A two and a half hour loop can be completed once at the Major Jones swingbridge to the spectacular Red Hut bridge. This trail meanders by farmland, native bush and the river with views of the Kaimanawa Ranges. Complete the loop by walking back on the recently developed trail from the Red Hut bridge.
The trail hugs State Highway One before entering beautiful kanuka and other native bush and beech forest. This track gives people the opportunity to visit the Tongariro National Trout Centre. This whole section is particularly popular with mountain bikers.
From the Turangi i-SITE, the trail can also be reached by walking under the tunnel on State Highway 1 to the Taupahi Reserve.
Tongariro National Trout Centre
Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
5km south of Turangi off State Highway 1. A pleasant half-hour walk passes through the Tongariro National Trout Centre facilities beside the Tongariro River. Display panels explain the management of the Taupo Fishery while a viewing chamber provides underwater views of rainbow trout. A ranger is present during open hours for guidance and answering questions.
Tongariro River Lookout Track
Time: 1 hour, loop track
Begin at the State Highway 1 bridge or the Major Jones footbridge, Koura Street, Turangi. This loop track can be walked in either direction. It is described here from the State Highway 1 access point. Walk up to the first lookout on the northern side of the bridge. From here the track climbs steeply to a viewpoint over the Tongariro River, a trout fishery of international renown. Mt Pihanga, and the eroded volcanoes of the northern range of Tongariro National Park form a backdrop to the town of Turangi.
The track wanders through bush to the Major Jones footbridge at the southernmost point of the track. Cross the bridge and continue the loop following the track downstream. This side is an easy flat walk in a more urban setting. It passes through a narrow stretch of public land alongside the river.
Tokaanu Thermal Walk
Time: 20 minutes, loop track
Begins from the Tokaanu Thermal Pools (6 km from Turangi on SH 41). This short walk provides an interesting glimpse of a natural thermal area. See steaming hot mineral pools set in sinter basins and spluttering mud pools amidst the native bush. Thermal areas are changeable by nature so please keep to the track. Children should be supervised at all times.
For hundreds of years, Maori have used the geothermal resources of this area for cooking, bathing and leisure. Share in this tradition by having a therapeutic and relaxing swim at the nearby Tokaanu Thermal Pools. Rainbow trout can often be seen in the cold Tokaanu Stream beside the thermal area.
Tauranga/Taupo River Walking Track
Time: 30 minutes, return via same track
Park on the south side of the Tauranga / Taupo River (about 12 km north of Turangi on State Highway 1). Cross the bridge. The track entrance is marked on the left at the corner. This Taupo walking track follows the tranquil Tauranga/Taupo River for 15 minutes to the shore of Lake Taupo. The beach is a great spot for picnicking, fishing and swimming. Enjoy panoramic views of the Western Bays, Motutaiko Island, Taupo town and Mt Tauhara. Those wanting a longer walk can continue on along the foreshore toward the lakefront settlement of Waitetoko. The first public access to SH 1 is at Mac’s Road, 10-15 minutes along the beach.
Tauranga/Taupo Reserve Walking Track
Time: 30 minutes, return via same track
Turn off State Highway 1 onto Heuheu Parade on the south side of the Tauranga/Taupo River at Oruatua, 12 km north of Turangi. Then turn left into Kopua Street and follow the unpaved one-way road to a grassy lakeside clearing. A sign at the clearing’s entrance marks the start of this track which winds through the bush reserve towards Oruatua.
After about 10 minutes the track branches. The options are to continue on to Oruatua Avenue (5 minutes) or take the right branch and walk for 15 minutes to the lake. The main track leads to Oruatua Avenue. From here, either return via the same track or follow the road 500m to the beach at Oruatua. Shade trees make this a popular picnic spot in summer.
The track can also be walked south to north from Oruatua Avenue through to the river. From SH 1 it is less than 100m down Oruatua Avenue to the grassed accessway on the right, leading to the track entrance. Once the northern end of the track is reached it is a short walk along the beach to the Tauranga/Taupo River mouth.
Rotopounamu Walking Track
Time: 30 minutes walk to the lake, one way or 2 hours to and around the lake loop track (5km)
11km from Turangi off State Highway 47, carpark signposted on the south side of Te Ponanga Saddle.
Lake Rotopounamu, also known as 'Greenstone Lake’ because of its gorgeous green colour, is only ten minutes drive from Turangi. It is favourite with many locals. This is a delightful two hour loop through beech forest with graded tracks and a spectacular white sandy beach - a fabulous place for picnics in summer.
Lake Rotopounamu nestles on the side of Mount Pihanga, and is a special favorite for tree lovers, birdwatchers, walkers and swimmers. Beginning opposite the carpark the track winds gently uphill. At the junction the track to the left goes to Ten Minute Beach which is a pleasant picnic and swimming spot in summer. To walk around the lake turn right at the junction and follow a short section of metalled track before dropping down towards Five Minute Beach. Here a broad tree stump provides a good spot to view the lake. Rotopounamu was formed by a landslide about 10,000 years ago. It is nine metres deep and covers one square kilometre.
Long Beach sweeps along the eastern side of the lake and is an ideal spot for a picnic or rest stop. There is a toilet here. From here the track continues to the northern shore where three of Rotopounamu’s four tributary streams enter the lake. The lake has no visible outflow and possibly drains via an underground stream or seepage. Continuing on, you will pass Ten Minute Beach and soon return to the track junction. From here it is downhill to the carpark. Take care crossing the road back to your vehicle.
Time: 45 minutes to walk to the bay
Access by boat or from Karangahape Road (off State Highway 32) along a poled easement through farmland to the reserve. Te Hapua (or ‘Scenic Bay’) on the western shore of Lake Taupo is ideally reached by boat. From the lake edge it takes 15 minutes to walk up to a viewpoint just below the farmland, or 10 minutes to reach a bay to the south. Te Hapua Reserve is intended for day visitors.
Pukawa Bush Walking Track
Time: 45 minutes, loop track
Begins on Hauraki Terrace (off Pukawa Road); the entrance is just past Rereao Lane. The track is usually walked in an anti-clockwise direction. The track climbs up through Pukawa Bush above the village on a well graded route. A short way up there is a lookout with views over the village and lake. The lush podocarp forest contains large rimu, matai and totara trees. Birdlife is a feature of this area; bellbirds and tui in particular frequent this part of the bush.
The bush gradually changes to a rewarewa/kamahi forest and near the top opens out to a magnificent view of Lake Taupo and the surrounding countryside. Descending again, the last part of the track follows the route of the old Pukawa Road. The track ends on Rereao Lane which you can follow back to your starting point.
Pukawa to Omori Walking Track
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes, return via same track
Begins at end of Kaiuru Avenue in Pukawa village (15 minutes drive west of Turangi – signposted to the right off State Highway 41). The track wanders through the bush along the edge of Lake Taupo. Bellbird and tui may be seen in the trees above and from time to time there are glimpses of nearby Lake Taupo. The track emerges onto the shingle beach and picnic area at Omori Reserve.
The reserve is notable for kowhai trees which create a splash of bright yellow when flowering. Aluminium bands have been placed around some kohuhu trees to prevent possums from climbing up to eat the palatable native mistletoe. The track continues on over the Omori Stream where, in winter, spawning trout may be seen. Another 10 minute walk sees the end of the track at the Omori Boat Ramp.
Pukawa to Kuratau rivermouth (or vice versa)
Time : 2 hours
Fifteen minutes from town are the lakeside settlements of Pukawa, Omori and Kuratau, where people have their holiday homes. A delightful two hour return walk is from Kuratau rivermouth to Pukawa or vice versa. The walk features fabulous vistas of the lake, Mt Pihanga, and winds through beech forest. Brilliant if you are a bird lover.
Motutere / Waipehi Walking Track
Time: 1.5 hours return via the same track
Located approximately 22 km north of Turangi on State Highway 1. After passing Hallett’s Bay, then Jellicoe Point, get ready to park on the left opposite the north end of the Motutere motor camp.
Maunganamu Walking Track
Time: 40 minutes, return via same track
About 4 km from Turangi, turn off State Highway 41 into the Maunganamu Scenic Reserve beside the Tokaanu Tailrace bridge. Drive along the gravel road for nearly 1km. Veer left at the intersection and park in the grassy clearing.
The track begins at the bush edge and leads around the hill and up to a lookout near the summit (490m). The views of Tokaanu, across to Waihi, and southern Lake Taupo are excellent. Maunganamu (‘Mosquito Hill’) is an old volcanic dome composed of rhyolite rock.
Motuoapa Cliff Lookout Walking Track
Time: 15 - 20 minutes, return via same track
Begins beside northern end of Motuoapa Lodge in Motuoapa, 10 km north of Turangi on State Highway 1. The track heads up to the volcanic cliffs behind Motuoapa to a wooden viewing platform. The lookout offers excellent views of Stump Bay, Motuoapa Peninsula, the South Taupo wetlands and Lake Taupo.
Please treat this area with respect as it is of cultural importance to Ngati Tuwharetoa. Return via the same track, or for a slight variation during the descent, continue along a path which leads to the north end of the settlement and return alongside the state highway to the track entrance.
Kaimanawa Forest Park Walks
Time: Various lengths
Kaimanawa Forest Park is fifteen kilometres south of Turangi on State Highway One. There are many walks in the park of different lengths. For more information see our Kaimanawa Forest Park Walks & Hikes section.
Download a guide to walks and hikes in the Taupo Region, or buy it at the Turangi i-Site.
10 Great Lake Walks Brochure
Your guide to the 10 Great Lake Walks within Great Lake Taupo.