TAUPO WINTER TRAVEL GUIDE
I recently spent a week in my hometown, Taupo! I hadn’t spent that much time there in over five years so I made a point of doing a bunch of the classic tourist activities as well as visiting some new and old favourite food spots, here are my highlights!
Spa Park Natural Hot Springs
This place is top of the list because it is the number one place you should visit as a tourist to Taupo. These natural hot springs are absolutely free, and are situated on the edge of the Waikato river. There are several little hot pools in this little area so even when it is packed in mid-summer you should usually be able to get a spot. It’s an especially amazing place to hit right after you’ve been skiing at Whakapapa nearby.
Free for locals
I love a cute small town museum, and Taupo museum (although it hasn’t changed in years) is still a great one to stop in at! It has a few interesting Maori and New Zealand history exhibits which will fill in an afternoon while you visit Taupo.
An obvious one yes, but make sure you go for a few lake-side walks at different parts of the lake as different bays have different picturesque views. My favourite parts are the lions walk, five mile bay, and two mile bay.
$13-$20 per person
The BEST burgers in Taupo – no lie. Also such amazing service every time, the guys there are so friendly and clearly love what they do. Order anything on the menu, it’s all delicious, however I usually go for a fried chicken burger or the classic cheeseburger.
Hole In One
$15 for a group
A golfing challenge that sits right on the lakefront, where if your skills are good then you have the chance to win a cash prize! If we’re here with a group we’ll stop by for 20 minutes and grab a $15 bucket of golf balls to share amongst us. It’s a bit of fun on a clear day and a pretty cheap activity.
I recently spent an hour here and was so pleasantly surprised by all the activities you can do and all the things to look at inside. The main thing to note is that you can do a free honey and wine tasting. We spend about half an hour tasting different native New Zealand honeys, wine and beverages with the help of a lovely employee who gave us a full run down of each product. The whole experience was delicious and completely free! If you haven’t been in a long time I’d highly recommend heading over there for a honey tasting.
Taupo Hot Springs
$22 per person
If you’ve already been the the natural Spa Park hot springs, then head to Taupo Hot Springs (also known as Debretts Hot Pools). It does cost to enter but there are two really large thermally heated hot pools which are so divine and relaxing. My favourite part are that you can spend an hour at the private spa pools at no extra cost too.
A must-do for any tourist, our massive waterfall that’s pretty incredible to see in real life! There are several viewing points around the falls at different places, and if you’ve got the time there is a nice walk that leads to the falls from Spa Park.
Stag Park Diner
$15-$20 per person
Recently refurbished, this truck stop turned retro heaven is a novel place to visit if you’re after a unique dining experience. The new retro fit-out is seriously amazing, however you need to expect classic truck stop food, nothing too gourmet here.
Taupo Yacht Club
$25 per person
Situated in two mile bay, this is such an epic lake-side spot for wood-fired pizza, local beer and lake views. There are heaters throughout so you can stay cozy while splitting a gourmet pizza with your mate.
If you’ve got the time, pack a picnic and head to the botanical gardens. Park up mid-way through and enjoy being in nature. There are a few picnic benches scattered through the park for you to hang out and enjoy the scenery.
$20 per person
If you ask any local for a cafe recommendation, they’ll mention The Storehouse. Kokako coffee, an epic menu and an aesthetic that you’ll want on your Instagram feed. Need I say more?