Taupo is not really one of the most favoured destinations with New Zealand and international travellers and holidaymakers. That honour goes to Queenstown in South Island. However, Taupo is North Island’s Queenstown.
With Lake Taupo spreading across 616 square metres (that’s the size of Singapore), Taupo offers views, quiet accommodation and tourist-friendly cafes.
Taupo is less than 300kms from New Zealand’s main airport – Auckland and with New Zealand’s modern road network, the trip takes only three and a half hours, along picturesque landscape of North Island.
An international traveller can either drive non-stop to Taupo, or stop on the way and enjoy many options that New Zealand offers. Hamilton has one of the country’s largest gardens – Hamilton Gardens, with Paradise Garden Collection, and Te Parapara – New Zealand’s first traditional Maori garden. Before starting your journey, look up the garden’s website for one of the many exciting events staged here each year.
Hamilton Gardens opens at 7.30am every day of the year. For Indian visitors, there’s a surprise – Indian Char Bagh Pavilion within Hamilton Gardens. Char Bagh’ or ‘enclosed four part’ garden offers a colourful display of flowers spreading out from a distinctive chalk coloured Pavilion.
Char Bagh offers a colourful display of flowers (Image: Hamilton Gardens)
This form of garden spread throughout the Muslim world between the 8th and 18th centuries. The complex symbolism behind this form of garden has its very ancient roots in three of the world’s great religions – Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
You can easily get enchanted and lose track of time and the journey ahead while at Hamilton Gardens, where you can easily spend the whole day.
Lake Taupo (Image: Vaibhav Gangan)
The next stop can be Cambridge – a lazy town of 16,000 people with a mixture of Kiwi and British feel in the air.
Known as the town of trees, it offers a stunning range of exotic trees that add to the English-style town atmosphere.
At Cambridge, you can walk the heritage and boutique trails and discover the beautiful range of shops many set within heritage buildings.
The Tree Trail takes in the Town Square and the hidden treasure of Lake Te Ko Utu.
Another nearby attraction is Maungatautari – mountain sanctuary for native wildlife only 15 minutes drive from Cambridge and now a beautiful home for reintroduced kiwi and other native birds. Visit their website for details.
Then there’s Athenree Gorge (in the Western Bay of Plenty) on the way if you take SH2 route. Waihi beach too is on the way and is worth a stop.
Once in Taupo, you can either get active and try many outdoor activities including horse riding, mini-golf, Segway ride or you may simply want to relax by the lake and finish your favourite novel.
Most cafes on Roberts Street are lake facing, allowing you to take pictures of the lake on your mobile phone and upload them to Facebook using free wi-fi provided by the cafe.
Unlike many smaller towns in New Zealand, Taupo offers you a choice of not one but three to four restaurants offering Indian cuisine, and it is difficult to pick one over the others.
However, Indian Delights (10 Roberts Street) is located on first floor and offers fantastic lake views.
The famous Huka falls is just a five-minute drive from Taupo and provides jet-boating as well as prawn fishing attractions.
Huka falls is a major tourist attraction in Taupo (Image: Vaibhav Gangan))
At Lake Taupo, on-water activities include banana boat ride, kayaking and para-sailing. But if you have had enough of water, then head inland to Craters of the Moon which is only a few kilometres from Lake Taupo.
Here you can enjoy horse-riding where you are accompanied by one pilot horse in the front and one at the back, while you can choose the speed at which you would like to explore the forest around.
Lake Taupo and its surroundings offer a perfect holiday destination for the whole family as well as for adventurous tourists.
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