Motutere, New Zealand

Paddle and Camp at Lake Taupō!

Originally added by Jamie Gallant

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. 

Read More


Family Friendly
Hot Springs
Picnic Area
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole


Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to Huka Falls

    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. This section of the lake is formed by several hot pools and is a great place ...

    3.7 miles

  • Hike Mt. Urchin Track

    It is recommended to do this hike on a clear day if you would like to have good views from Urchin Trig. We did it on a cloudy and misty day and although the hike was still awesome, the top was shrouded in a heavy layer of mist. We could not contin...

    4.3 miles 1870.1 ft gain

  • Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing

    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). The backdrop for a good portion of the trek showcases the mighty Mt. Ng...

    12.1 miles 3674.5 ft gain

  • Climb Mount Ngauruhoe

    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 Ngauruhoe! Located in the Tongariro National Park o...

    11.8 miles 3805.8 ft gain