Taupo Town's History & Economy

The Taupo town centre has a relatively short history compared to other towns & cities in New Zealand. The land where the town of Taupo lies today remained largely uninhabited until 1869. The original Maori of the Taupo area, the iwi of Ngati Tuwharetoa, did not settle at the northern end of the lake, but established a major pa at the southern end of Lake Taupo where the soil was more fertile. They occupied this area for several hundred years prior to the establishment of the Taupo town centre.

Taupo town, as it stands today, was founded in 1869 as an Armed Constabulary post. Following an initial survey, the government bought the land on which the town of Taupo now stands. The Tongariro Domain in Taupo marks the site of the redoubt and the AC Baths is the site of the original hot baths used by soldiers of the redoubt. 

By the 1890’s, Taupo was starting to establish itself as an expanding business town, with travellers from out of town starting to visit. Farming and agriculture remained limited due to the soil’s lack of fertility, but this gradually increased as great effort was put into clearing and fertilising the land.

Aratiatia Dam


The 1950’s proved to be a boom time for Taupo with farming now flourishing and the region’s potential for forestry being realised. Geothermal power stations and hydro-electric schemes were built, and a lucrative timber processing industry was established. With its central location, good access roads and plentiful natural attractions, Taupo’s economy was bolstered by a thriving tourism industry that has continued to this day.

If you have any queries about this wonderful town such as when Centre Stage (Taupo's great theatre) will next have a production or what the best season for trout fishing is, simply pop into the Taupo Information Centre, where they will answer any question you have and help you book wonderful things to do while in the region.

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