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Taupo voted top destination

The lake district of Taupo has gained top honours as New Zealand’s best place to visit in a consumer poll led by Experience Oz+NZ. Taupo pipped second-placed qualifier Fiordland, while the stunning Bay of Islands came in third place.

The Chris Jolly Outdoors water shuttle transports a grouop of riders on the Great Lake Trail, Taupo. Photo: DGLT

The Great Lake Trail is just one jewel in the crown of Taupo's high consumer poll rating. Photo: DGLT

With a large assortment of natural, cultural and tourism highlights, it is no surprise that Taupo has taken top honours in a recent international visitors' survey. 

Destination Great Lake Taupo sales and marketing manager, Ms Zelia Horrell, suggested that the recently opened cycle trails have had a big impact of the number of tourists traveling to Taupo. 

A few things have helped put our region on the map over the last year, one of those being the official opening of the Great Lake Trail, part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail – Nga Haerenga, which opened to rave reviews in April 2014.

Zelia Horrell, sales and marketing manager for Destination Great Lake Taupo Share

The Great Lake Trail has gained national prestige also, placing as the best Grade 3 trail in New Zealand and ranking as the nation's second favorite place to cycle (according to a recent BikeWise Competition).

As well as cycling, The Great Lake Trail also provides a plethora of hiking options.

“Of course the Great Lake Taupo region has been sought after as a hiking destination for years, as it is home to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which has been heralded by many as the best day walk in NZ,” Ms Horrell explained.

While Taupo is known for its spectacular hiking and cycle trails, the region also caters to adrenalin junkies with action activities such as jet boating, skydiving, and bungy jumping. 

For the less adventurous among us, a collection of natural highlights round off the list of things to do while in Taupo. Hidden gems include the geothermal wonderlands, the magnificent Huka Falls and Lake Taupo. 

Many main cities fell outside of the top ten on the survey showing that tourists wanted to explore a bit deeper to unearth a heartland New Zealand experience.

“Tourists are keen to immerse themselves more in the land and culture of regional New Zealand," added Experience Oz+ NZ business development manager Michelle Woodroff.

She said it was the Kiwi way that our visitors really wanted to experience. The countryside is sparse, the lake is cold, and the islands are pristine and remote, but it’s this essence of an untouched world that tourists seem to love. Participants in the poll agree, “it’s simply…beautiful”.

This culturally rich destination should be a must visit when planning your cycling holiday to New Zealand. Come and immerse yourself in a genuine New Zealand experience, soak in the culture, relish in the natural wonders and explore the trails radiating out from Taupo.


It's easy to get off the beaten track in Taupo. Photo: Derek Morrison

Five must-do cycle trails in Taupo

  • A family enjoys the Lion's Walk Trail on the shores of Lake Taupo. Photo: DGLT
    The Great Lake Walkway, or Lion’s Walk, is a 10km, Grade 1 paved ride that travels along the shoreline of Lake Taupo. The trail offers majestic views across the lake to the snow-capped peaks of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. The trail is perfectly suited to young families and more experienced riders looking for a scenic 1-2 hours of stress-free riding. This uncomplicated and easy to ride trail begins at Taupo’s Boat Harbour, however you can choose your start location anywhere along the lake edge from Taupo. Take a picnic and enjoy a day beside New Zealand's largest lake. 
  • Tree_Trunk_Gorge_Mountain_Bike_Trail_Image_003.jpg
    Tree Trunk Gorge trail is a beautiful undulating 12km ride among stands of native red beech trees on the lower reaches of the Kaimanawa Ranges in Kaimanawa Forest Park. As you ride the Tree Trunk Gorge track, keep an eye out for the wonderful views of the Tongariro River and the surrounding mountains. Towards the southern end of the track the volcanic peaks come beautifully into view from an exposed ridge. 
  • Riders meet their transport – the Chris Jolly Outdoors water shuttle on the Waihora section of the Great Lake Trail, Taupo. Photo: DGLT
    The Great Lake Trail is a scenic 71km Grade 3 trail that follows the northeastern shoreline of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. The all-weather, all-season trail traverses through native forest providing stunning views across Lake Taupo to the majestic volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. With three distinct sections, the trail has something to suit all fitness levels. 
  • A group of riders explore Craters Mountain Bike Park, Taupo, New Zealand. Photo: DGLT
    Craters Mountain Bike Park is a popular mountain biking network in Wairakei Forest on the outskirts of Taupo. The park features almost 50km of purpose-built Grade 2-5 trails. Using the linked tracks, riders can choose to ride for just a few hours, or take a full day to explore all the trails. Tree cover comes in the form of mostly pine forest, which has created angled and undulating terrain that rides well all-year around with a trail to suit the whole family. Best of all you can ride directly to the park from town if you have plenty of energy to burn. 
  • Riders cross a bridge on the Tongariro River Trail near Turangi. Photo: DGLT
    The Tongariro River Trail is a relaxing 15km loop trail that follows the banks of the beautiful Tongariro River near Turangi. As you ride along the lightly undulating Grade 2 trail, you will travel through pockets of native New Zealand forest, as well as mature beech, manuka and fern groves. This 1-2 hour ride offers a variety of scenic rest stops along the way and is the perfect day out for the whole family or those keen to explore the river.