Welcome to Taupo and Central Plateau
Taupo is located at the north east of Lake Taupo, the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. To most New Zealanders, Taupo is a big, beautiful lake. To geologists, it’s one of the world’s most formidable volcanoes – a caldera. A caldera is a huge volcanic depression created when the ground collapses after a massive eruption. Over 26,000 years ago Taupo exploded in the biggest volcanic eruption the world has known in the last 70,000 years – the Oruanui eruption. Much of the central North Island was buried in up to 200 metres of debris!
Nowadays the laid back lakeside town is an awesome family holiday spot, with warm lake swimming and beautiful beaches – evidence of its volcanic nature are clear though, as you dig the sand and find hot water below! You can also scout the pebble beaches for your very own natural pumice to take away! You can learn more by visiting local thermal mud pools and the exciting Craters of the Moon active geothermal field. Exploring the lake by boat or kayak is a must-do, as is checking out the incredible Huka Falls and Aratiatia dam, while the world’s only geothermal prawn farm can be found on the Huka Falls Road.
Mount Ruapehu, Central Plateau or Volcanic Plateau
To the south of Lake Taupo is the Tongaririo National Park – with three active volcanic mountains it’s NZ’s main area of volcanic activity!
Mount Ruapehu - is the highest mountain in the North Island, with a volcanic crater lake at its summit and Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields on its slopes.
Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe form part of the famous one-day hike; the Tongariro Crossing. It’s not technically difficult but it is a very long day, and not recommended with younger children. However it is part of one of NZ’s great walks with good reason!
Ohakune is a great base for those going to the Turoa ski area and is where you will find most of the hotels, restaurants and shops when you need a break from the slopes. There is always lots going on in Ohakune during the winter to keep all the family entertained, including the annual Ruapehu Mountain Mardi Gras in June and the famous Carrot Carnival. Ohakune also makes a great summer base, being just minutes from the Tongariro National Park and only an hour from Taupo.
Whakapapa is your closest base for access to Whakapapa ski area and provides a variety of accommodation including the famous and historic Chateau. Otherwise you can stay on the main highway at nearby National Park Village; NZ’s highest urban township!