New Zealand is well-known for its picturesque scenery and views; where renting a car with VroomVroomVroom is the best way to enjoy all the North Island has to offer. The Taupo region is just a short drive from a number of amazing city centres, where the region itself is home to a plethora of free activities that you can explore with your rental car.
1. Take the Great Lake Taupo drive - To get the most out of your car rental, pack a picnic basket and do the Great Lake Taupo drive. With a total driving distance of 160 kilometres around the entire lake, and with the most amazing views - it really is something you won’t regret.
2. Visit Huka Honey Hive - Situated just five minutes north of Taupo on SH1 at Wairakei Tourist Park, the Honey Hive can be found right next to Huka Falls and is the perfect place to visit with the whole family. Whether it's viewing the beehives, tasting the honey or finding the right honey skincare or wellness products you'll be sure to enjoy this attraction with free entry. Honey is famous for its natural healing purposes, so make sure Huka Honey Hive is on your itinerary.
3. See the Aratiatia Rapids - Don't miss out on the Aratiatia Rapids located on Aratiatia Road, off SH5 10 km north of Taupo. Witness the gorge transformed from barren to surging rapids when the Waikato River falls 28 metres in the space of 1 kilometre. This is a spectacular and powerful sight to behold.
4. Hike to the summit of Mt. Tauhara - Only a 10-minute drive via Thermal Explorer Highway and SH 5, find out why the trail to the top of Mt Tauhara is a favourite hike with locals and visitors. To reach the top, this medium 2.8km trail takes an hour and 15 minutes, providing scenic views over Lake Taupo and the central North Island.
5. Explore Tongariro National Park - Located just south of Lake Taupo, explore several walking trails within the dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park and experience the magnificent volcanic alpine landscape. Popular activities in the park include skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Aside from hiking, visitors can also enjoy fishing, hunting, and mountain biking in the summer.
6. Bike the Great Lake Walkway - Also known as the Lion's Walk, the Great Lake Walkway is a 10km trail that stretches along the shores of Lake Taupo and ends at Five Mile Bay. The trail is perfect for a range of bike riders and is suited for families with young children.
7. Enjoy the free hot pool at Spa Thermal Park - This spa park lets its guests and visitors take a dip in the free swimming hot pool. A perfect place to relax, soak in the open air, and enjoy the hot springs, the Spa Thermal Park should not be missed.
8. Mingle with the locals - If you'd love to do something uniquely local, be sure to head down to the Riverside Market, held every Saturday from 10am until 1pm. Here, you will discover a great mix of stalls from local produce, handmade arts and crafts, to name a few.
9. Have a fun 6D cinematic adventure - For only $15 - $20, you can take a virtual ride and experience all of Taupo's natural wonders and thrilling activities such as skydiving, whitewater rafting and jet boating - all from the comfort of your cinema chair at the 6D Adventure Cinema.
10. Get a selfie at #LOVETAUPO - Let the selfies begin! Visitors flock to see the #LoveTaupo lettering which can be found on Lake Terrace. This has become an iconic must-stop photo spot for travellers because of the beautiful backdrop of Lake Taupo and snow-capped mountains.
Do you know that you can download this map directly to your phone? Press the box symbol located on the top-right corner of this map to open in your Google Maps app. Now you can easily access this map on your next road trip adventure from Auckland to Taupo
Travel time and distance: 3 hours and 29 minutes (275.3km) via State Highway 1