• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

Family Friendly
Hot Springs
Picnic Area
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Explore Australasia's largest freshwater lake formed from the crater of one of the world's largest volcanic eruptions.

It lacks salt, but Lake Taupō is quickly becoming one of the favorite places to visit on the weekends. An easy 3.5-hour drive south from Auckland, Lake Taupō is Australasia's largest lake and roughly the same size as Singapore. The Romans and Chinese both wrote of seeing an immense fire in the sky when the last volcanic eruption occurred here around 1800 years ago. 

The opportunities here for paddling, fishing, hiking and photographing seem endless. The lake offers over 120 miles (193 kilometers) of shoreline, and a surface area of 238 square miles (616 square kilometers) to explore. It is a world-class destination for trout fishing and New Zealand's two largest rivers - the Waikato and Wanganui begin here. 

This past weekend I took my sea kayak, tent, and camera out for a few days exploring. The days were stunning, the nights a bit chilly and the water glassy. If there was any doubt the lake is actually the submerged crater of a massive volcano, free range pumice floats all around the place.

On the first day, I left my campsite at Motutere (see location pin) along the southeast shores of the lake and paddled around the lake's sole island - Motutaiko (-38.853998, 175.942470). From there, I was greeted with incredible views into Tongariro National Park. Each night I made the paddle back here to watch the sunset. 

On the second day, I decided to head up and launch my kayak from the town of Taupō to paddle to some Maori Rock Carvings a few bays over (-38.714834, 175.977661). I didn't have a map with me but I had seen pictures of them and figured they would pretty hard to miss. I was wrong, and 2 hours later I arrived at Kinloch (-38.663002, 175.918001), which I knew was well beyond the carvings. An hour or so into my paddle back I could see quite a few boats gathering around a concealed cliff's face, and as I got closer I finally got a view of the magnificent rock carvings. 

Access to the lake is easy and readily available from all sides. For camping, I recommend Motutere (-38.8828822, 175.9609470), it's quiet and also boasts the only shoreline camping on the lake. 

Pack List

  • Kayak, Canoe, or Paddleboard
  • Paddle
  • Life jacket / PDF / Buoyance aid
  • Tent
  • Drybags 
  • Rain gear
  • Warm clothes (weather can change quickly here)
  • Camera
  • Whiskey 
  • Maps of the lake
  • Cell phone or VHF radio
  • Water
  • Knife
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Community Photos

+ Add Photos


Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Leave a Review

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Jamie Gallant

American import to New Zealand. Co-founder of the Bureau of Explorers and supported by Western Rise™ and YETI™

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike to Huka Falls

Taupo, New Zealand

This hike begins in the Spa Thermal Park and there is one clear path to follow. After a couple minutes there is a bridge that crosses over a small section of the lake.

133 Saves

Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

To anyone who has seen The Lord of the Rings then you will have a little extra incentive for going on this one of a kind trek through Mordor (Northern New Zealand in reality).

66 Saves

Summit Mount Doom

Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

I may be crushin' dreams, but Mount Doom isn't actually the real name of the mountain Frodo climbed to destroy the ring (sorry LOTR fans), but the actual mountain does exist and it's called Mount Nga.

45 Saves