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Great Lake Taupo 10 Great Walks
The Great Lake Taupo region is a hub for walking and hiking with a huge range of walks suitable for all levels. Taupo and Turangi are the ideal places to base yourself for your next walking and hiking adventures.
Great Lake Walkway (aka Lion's Walk) (10 mins - 3 hours)
Ideal picnic and swimming spots can be found along the way. There are toilet facilities in all the bays and a children’s playground and barbeque facility at Wharewaka Point. This track is suitable for pushchairs and bikes, and dogs are permitted.
Spa Thermal Park to Huka Falls (2 hours return)
From the Spa Thermal Park car park, follow the signs towards the Waikato River. Near the start of the track a bridge crosses a natural hot stream. From here the well-defined track winds along the riverbank, offering lovely views along the way. The walk finishes at the spectacular Huka Falls.
A pleasant walk for the whole family; this walk can be linked with the Aratiatia Rapids Walk, which continues along the river to the Aratiatia hydro dam and rapids. This is an additional 4 hour return walk. There are car park areas at Spa Thermal Park, Huka Falls and the Aratiatia Dam. Dogs are permitted on this track. See it on a map here.
Great Lake Trail (30 minutes to 8 hours)
The Great Lake Trail showcases some of the most spectacular scenery in the region. The trail traverses the shores of Lake Taupo with views across the lake to the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. There are three separate sections - Waihaha (30km), Kawakawa (19km) and W2K (21km).
The Kawakawa and W2K sections start/finish in the village of Kinloch and are suitable for shorter walks if you return the same way. A water taxi links the end of the Waihaha section to the rest of the trail and makes a great addition to the journey. These trails are shared use so please keep left and look out for bike riders, especially on blind corners.
Mount Tauhara (2.5 hours return via the same track)
The trail to the top of Mt Tauhara is a popular climb with locals and visitors. This 2.5km trail climbs to the summit at 1,088 metres, offering panoramic views over Lake Taupo and the central North Island.
It is challenging and steep in places, so be prepared by wearing sturdy footwear and taking plenty of water, snacks and warm clothing as there is often a cool wind at the summit. Mount Tauhara is a culturally significant landmark for local Maori. Walkers are asked to keep to the track and respect the environment. Find Mt Tauhara on a map here.
Lake Rotopounamu (2 hour loop track)
Nestled on the side of Mt Pihanga, Lake Rotopounamu (‘green- stone lake’) is a special favourite of tree lovers and birdwatchers. The track begins with an uphill walk then flattens out to circle the lake.
There are numerous picnic and rest spots, with toilet facilities available on the main beach area. The lake is suitable for swimming in. This beautiful lake and forest is part of the Tongariro National Park and World Heritage Area. Find Lake Rotopounamu on a map here.
Tongariro River Trail (3 hour loop track)
With various access points, this undulating loop track can be walked in either direction. There are good views of the river’s calm pools and rippling rapids as you walk along the high banks above the river. Keep an eye out for trout in the river pools. The walk passes along the edge of private farmland and homes.
A deviation to the Tongariro National Trout Centre is recommended, where picnic and barbecue areas are available for use, and the museum, freshwater aquarium and blue duck enclosure are worth a visit. The use of mountain bikes is permitted on this track. Bikers should be considerate of walkers. This track is dog friendly. Find the Tongariro River Trail on the a map here.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing (7 hours minimum)
This world famous track is an awesome one day adventure. Trek 19.4kms across active volcanoes featuring spectacular and unique terrain including old lava flows, active volcanic craters and thermal steam vents, brilliant emerald and blue lakes, and beautiful native forest.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an active alpine environment with very changeable weather conditions. Bring plenty of food and fluids, as there are no shops on the track, and wear sturdy boots and warm and waterproof clothing, as the weather can change rapidly. For more information go to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing section of the website and check with your nearest i-SITE for up to date weather and track conditions.
Opepe Historic Bush Walk (30mins - 1.5hrs loop track)
There are two loop tracks, one on either side of State Highway 5, with car park areas on both sides of the road. The northern loop passes through majestic native forest with giant rimu and matai trees, unique to the Taupo region as it is the only remaining virgin forest. There is also a side track which leads to a small historic cemetery from the time of the New Zealand Land Wars.
The southern loop is made up of regenerating bush, taking in the relics of the Opepe township and sawmill, including the site of the old watering trough where you can read more about the history of the area. This track is dog friendly. Find Opepe Historic Bush Walk on a map here.
Waipahihi Botanical Reserve (1.5 hours)
Situated in 35 hectares of mature plantings, the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve is a haven for birdlife. Of special interest are the alpine garden, lemonwood walk and the over 2000 rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias.
There are numerous walkways, beautiful lake and mountain views and attractive picnic areas. Open daily until dusk. The Botanical Reserve is dog friendly. Find Waipahihi Botanical Reserve on a map here.
Waihora Lagoon Walking Track (20 mins)
This is an easy, flat walk into a small rain-fed lake surrounded by tall kahikatea and rimu trees. The boardwalk snakes through the bush to the viewing platform, which provides a tranquil spot to enjoy beautiful reflections and a variety of birdlife. This track is best enjoyed after rainfall to appreciate the mirror effect of the lake; however keep in mind that heavy rain may bring the lagoon level up over the boardwalk.
Access is a gravel road signposted off State Highway 32, on the western side of Lake Taupo. Combine this short walk with the nearby Great Lake Trail or with the variety of outdoor experiences on offer in the Pureora Forest Park.