Planning a Trip
Getting There & Getting Around
By Plane -- Air New Zealand Link (tel. 0800/737-000; www.airnewzealand.com) flies to Taupo from Auckland and Wellington five times a day, with connections to other destinations. In winter, Mountain Air (tel. 0800/922-812; www.mountainair.co.nz) has daily flights between Auckland and the Chateau and Turangi Airports. For a taxi or airport shuttle, call tel. 07/378-5100.
By Coach (Bus) -- InterCity and Newmans buses arrive and depart from the Taupo Travel Centre on Gasgoine Street (tel. 07/378-9032). Magic Travellers and Kiwi Experience also serve Taupo. Guthreys Express (tel. 0800/759-999 in NZ, or 07/376-0027) has daily services from Taupo to Auckland, Rotorua, and National Park village, which is in Tongariro National Park. The Connection Bus (tel. 07/378-9955; www.paradisetours.co.nz), runs between the Rotorua and Taupo visitor centers around three times a day for the ridiculously low fare of about NZ$25 (US$18/£9) one-way. There is no local bus service but look out for the Lake Taupo Hot Bus (tel. 0508/468-287 in NZ; www.hotbus.co.nz), which provides return transport to most attractions. It departs from the i-SITE Visitor Centre on the hour every hour from 10am to 3pm daily. One attraction costs NZ$10 (US$7.10/£3.60), two cost NZ$15 (US$11/£5.40) and three cost NZ$20 (US$14/£7.20). An all-day pass (with around an hour at each attraction) costs NZ$25 (US$18/£9).
By Taxi -- For service in and around Taupo, call Taupo Taxis (tel. 07/378-5100).
By Car -- State highways 1 and 5 pass through Taupo. All roads in the area are excellent, but drive with care in winter (when they're icy) and when there's a heavy flow of logging trucks. The drive to Rotorua is 45 minutes; to Waitomo or Napier, 1 1/2 hours; to Hamilton or Tauranga, 2 hours; and to Palmerston North, 3 hours.
A Word on Parking Security -- The car parks at Huka Falls Lookout, Craters of the Moon, and Spa Park are very prone to theft. Volunteers do patrol some car parks but make sure you remove all valuables from your vehicle and lock all doors. Lock other possessions in the trunk where they cannot be seen, and report anyone acting suspiciously in car parks to Taupo Police (tel. 07/378-6060). The good news about parking in Taupo township is that it is generally free.
By Bicycle -- To rent a bike, contact Cycle World, 30 Spa Rd. (tel. 07/378-6117), or Rent-A-Bike Taupo, 106-108 Rifle Range Rd. (tel. 07/378-7947). Taupo is particularly geared for cyclists, with dedicated lanes, shared paths, and numerous recreational off-road rides.
Taupo spreads along the northeastern tip of the lake, where the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest, flows out of Lake Taupo's Tapuaeharuru Bay. The main road is Tongariro Street. Perpendicular to that are Heu Heu and Horomatangi streets, two of several that form the main shopping area. Tongariro Street runs into Lake Terrace, the continuation of State Highway 1 that runs around the lake and takes you to most of the motels. The settlements of Acacia Bay and Jerusalem Bay are just across on the western shore of the lake.
The Taupo i-SITE Visitor Centre (tel. 07/376-0027; www.laketauponz.com) is easy to find -- it's on Tongariro Street, the main road through Taupo. It has a wide selection of brochures and can arrange fishing guides and licenses, tours, and activities. It also sells stamps, phone cards, and souvenirs. Hours are 8:30am to 5pm daily. Experience Taupo, 57 Tongariro St. (tel. 0800/368-775 in NZ, or 07/377-0704; www.experiencetaupo.com), is another good source of information. They stay open later than the visitor center (till 7pm in summer; 6:30pm winter), and they can organize all your adventures in the region with no booking fees.
The post office is at the corner of Ruapehu and Horomatangi streets; it's open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5pm. Internet access is available at Internet Outpost, 11 Tuwharetoa St. (tel. 07/376-9920). It's open daily 9am to 11pm.
The last Saturday in November is the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge (tel. 07/378-1546; www.cyclechallenge.org.nz). In October, more than 3,000 cyclists gather for the Powerade Day-Night Thriller (tel. 07/378-0455; www.eventpromotions.co.nz), the largest mountain-bike event of its kind in the world. The annual Lake Taupo International Fishing Tournament (tel. 07/377-3026; www.troutfishingtournament.org.nz) is in April; the annual Levene Half Marathon (tel. 07/378-1546; www.taupohalfmarathon.org.nz) takes place in August. Check www.laketauponz.com for a full events calendar.