Here’s Why I made Taupo my base for the short, 5-day New Zealand trip, and you should too.
Beautifully framed by the Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro mountains, Lake Taupo is the biggest lake in the southern hemisphere. You’ll find below some of the reasons Taupo was our base camp for what is possibly the shortest New Zealand trip ever made.
Taupo is conveniently placed in the center of New Zealand’s North Island, which means so many attractions are within your grasp:
Tongariro, Waiotapu, Rotorua (which I visited) but also Taumarunui and its Forgotten World Adventures, the Bridge to Nowhere, the infamous Hobbiton, or the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
That’s not to say Taupo in itself doesn’t give you enough options.. quite the opposite; but I’ll tell you about that in a moment.
The small city of Taupo has a domestic airport, so you can easily go in and out and around New Zealand. It’s also widely connected with the rest of the island, through InterCity buses. You’ll find so many places within your grasp:
– 30 mins bus drive away from Waiotapu
– 50 minutes bus drive away from Rotorua
– 1h bus drive away from Tongariro (not operated by Intercity though)
– 50 mins flight to Auckland
– 1h flight away from Wellington
– And you can drive your way around anywhere!
Pro Tip: You may want to avoid setting base in Taupo in the first week of December, which is when they host the Ironman competition so I’m guessing prices spike significantly.
But Taupo itself is not short of things to offer!
The Infamous Huka Falls
Apparently, the most visited attraction in New Zealand!
Well, I couldn’t really confirm this info, so I don’t know if it’s #fakenews, but Huka falls is definitely one of the most visited landmarks in the country.
Thanks to NewZealand.com, I learned that the water from Waikato river flows at a rate of 220,000 liters per second, which would fill an entire Olympic swimming pool in only 11 seconds. It is pretty impressive.
The longest river in NZ: Waikato River
Waikato is the longest river in New Zealand, and you cannot not admire its 425 km of blissful green-blue water – both from up close and from the sky.
There’s this great hike along the river, going from Huka Falls all the way back into the city, which we did on our first day there. The forgotten world, Jurassic-looking scenery woke us up and energized us after 26h of flight.
The trail is simply out of this world and, if you feel like it,, you can soak your feet (or your whole self) in the inviting hot springs water near the end of the trail, just before you reach the golf area.
We got a glimpse of the amazing Huka Lodge hotel just by the river, where the Queen apparently stops when she’s visiting – and where you, too, can spend memorable times, for only 1500 € (haha, yeah no)
The Wairakei Terraces & Spa
Taupo’s Amazing Street Art Display
Taupo’s Delicious Food Corners
Another reason I was glad I chose Taupo over Rotorua, where our end of the day was anticlimactic: in Rotorua, we failed to find a nice, homey restaurant or cafe to spend 4 hours till the Intercity bus came around – apparently the city center doesn’t give you many options.
Whereas Taupo, despite the fact that it only has only one intersection with traffic lights (just throwing out fun facts) offers a great collection of restaurants and bars. Here are some that we tried and loved:
Vine Eatery and Bar (make sure to book a table)
Last But Not Least: the B&B
Any good base camp will have to feel homey. We found THE spot, Taupo’s B&B to beat all B&Bs out there – with absolutely no hint of exaggeration.
B&B Number Ten deserves its name, and more. I mean, how often do you find a 9.8 rating on Booking.com?
- Was the breakfast delicious & super healthy?
- Was the lake view from our king-size bed simply amazing?
- Was our host super helpful, and accommodating, and just simply wonderful?
Yes, yes and yes!
Is there anything I can say about this B&B which is below exceptional? Nop.
The property is spotlessly clean & comfortable, and you get the most delicious homemade cookies with your tea every day. Ann is very passionate about making you feel just like home (or better) and she maintains her incredible standards by having only 3 rooms available. So if you find her B&B available, it means 2 things:
- 1. you’re very lucky
- 2. you’re in for a treat!
Ann believes in delivering exceptional service. She picked us up from the airport and checked us in as early as 9 AM, she packed us lunch for the Tongariro hike, and she gave us the great tips for eating out that you just read about.
B&B Number Ten is the reason Taupo felt like home for 4 days.
If you’re looking to roam New Zealand’s North Island, I can’t think of a better base camp than beautiful, lake-side Taupo.
But no matter what you go for, you’re guaranteed to love every freaking moment!
#LoveNewZealand & Travel.Differently.