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Taupo - Adventure Capital of the North Island
If you were to just look at a photograph of Taupo, you would start to imagine it as a destination of serenity and scenic beauty. This isn't a major city with giant shopping malls and major highways, but it does offer Lake Taupo, the Waikato River, waterfalls and stunning volcanoes.
Before you write off Taupo as a beautiful but sleepy town, however, it's worthwhile to discover all that it has to offer.
Billed as the adventure capital of New Zealand's North Island, Taupo is an incredible place to try dozens of recreational activities outdoors. Travellers can fly right into Taupo's airport, which offers flights to and from cities like Wellington and Auckland. At the airport, pick up a rental car so that you can explore the area on your own. Here are the top adventure activities to try when visiting Taupo.
Bungy Jumping over the Waikato River
One of the most popular adventure activities in Taupo, and indeed in all of New Zealand, is bungy jumping. The sport involves jumping from a platform at a high elevation and free-falling until the bungy cord that harnesses you fully extends and prevents you from touching the ground. If it sounds scary, that is because it provides a huge adrenaline rush that only the truly adventurous will be able to appreciate.
Taupo Bungy operates the only licenced bungy jumping spot in the area, and it organises jumps from the part of the Waikato River known as Hell's Gate. The platform where you will jump from is built right into the side of a cliff, and the view is extraordinary. Although you can bungy jump in several locations around the world, there is nowhere that allows you to be in the middle of a pristine and scenic area over water quite like Taupo does.
Skydiving from 12,000 or 15,000 feet
Once you have conquered bungy jumping, you might be interested in something even more adventurous: skydiving. There are two companies in Taupo that offer skydiving, and each is a great choice because of their affordability and their unparalleled safety record. Since there are so many sky dives in Taupo annually, staff are some of the most experienced on the planet, which can be very reassuring when you are in a plane and about to make the scariest leap of your life. You can choose to jump from varying heights, jump solo or tandem with someone more experienced, capture the entire jump on a customised video or take lessons for an entire month to become an instructor.
Jet Boating on New Zealand's longest river
The Waikato River is the longest in all of New Zealand, and it is the ideal destination for jet boating. While you might start out on Lake Taupo, it is on the river that you can really enjoy the top speeds and the constantly changing scenery. Although many travellers are just interested in a short one or two-hour journey along the river at top speeds, you can combine the jet boating with an onshore excursion like Orakei Korako Thermal Reserve or a caving adventure to keep busy for the entire day.
See Taupo from a Helicopter
If you want to take in sights like a volcano, a lake, a river, mountains and villages all in a short 15-minute span, nothing beats a birds-eye view. Although you might be lucky enough to see some of the best parts of Taupo when you land at the airport, an even better opportunity is to take a helicopter tour. There are at least six different companies that offer travellers everything from 15-minute loops over the lake to a full three hours exploring the area.
Overnight Raft-fishing Expeditions
Fishing is an incredibly popular pastime in Taupo, and trout is the preferred catch in both the lake and the river. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get from one destination to the next on land. The solution is to enjoy an overnight rafting expedition down the river. Fish in one location, and then raft along the river until you get to another favourable spot. Camp overnight at sunset, and then have group organisers pick you up the next day.
These are just a handful of the many incredible adventure activities available in Taupo. Of course, there are also plenty of calmer options like hiking, flyfishing on the shore or kayaking on the lake.