Taupō is a fantastic holiday destination, where families can discover all sorts of adventures including water activities on the magnificent Lake Taupō.
Take a cruise, sailing trip, swim, kayak or SUP on the lake, try your luck fishing, explore the geothermal sites, or try to land a hole in one on the lake pontoon. Or have a family snow day, with Mt Ruapehu just over an hour’s drive.
Spring is a great time to get away for a family holiday, mini-break, or even just a weekend. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create wonderful memories with your family.
Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.
Fun family experiences
Taupō’s position in a geothermal hotspot by Lake Taupō and the Waikato River makes it a great place for families to stay a while, explore, play and make memories.
This unique attraction features an activity loop for some fun family challenges. Hand-feed baby prawns, take the aqua trikes, pedal boats and stand up paddle boards out onto the water, then dine in the Riverside Restaurant.
For a ride you will never forget! Enjoy 30 minutes of thrills, fun and excitement as you travel by jet boat along the Waikato River at up to 80km an hour with 360 degree spins. See the spectacular Huka Falls from a unique view.
Family-favourite thermal hot pools with hydroslides and an interactive warm water playground, private pools and spa treatments.
Go on an adventure! Guided tours by kayak or bike take in breathtaking scenery, waterfalls, geothermal activity, natural hot pools and Mine Bay Māori rock carvings that can only be seen from the water. From two hour tours to overnight expeditions.
Drift along the mighty Waikato River and enjoy the amazing views of Huka Falls, birdlife, and native bush with information from local guides. Open-air deck and viewing platforms for the best photos and feel the spray on your face!
A unique taste experience with free honey, mead and liqueur tastings. View live beehives, discover health and wellness products, divine honey-based skincare, an amazing range of gifts and delicious honey ice cream. Beekeeper tours available.
Free family activities
Even if you’re travelling on a budget, there are still so many experiences you can enjoy with your family.
A visit to Taupō isn’t complete without a stop at Huka Falls. Watch the power of water as it funnels through a gorge narrowing to form the thundering 11-metre high waterfall. Access is by a short walking track.
From the Aratiatia Bridge or viewpoints along the Waikato River, wait for the dam gate release to watch thousands of litres of water rush down the gully.
Bike or walk the track and take in the beautiful lake and mountain views. There’s a playground at Wharewaka Point, plus lots of places to picnic, swim or stop for coffee or ice-cream. Don’t miss getting your photo taken at the #LOVETAUPO sign.
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Soak in natural geothermal rock pool with stunning views of the Waikato River. Changing rooms, lockers and toilets are on-site and storyboards explain the historic significance of the area as a bathing and meeting place for Māori.
Situated at the southern end of Lake Taupō, you will see steaming mineral pools and bubbling mud pools on this short walk through native bush.
Walking tracks take you through beautiful native bush as well as flowering shrubs in spring. Bring a picnic and enjoy the grassy open spaces.
Become a Kiwi Guardian! Print off the Waipahihi Botanical Gardens adventure map before you head out, then find the Kiwi Guardian post and submit the special code word on it to receive a Kiwi Guardians certificate and medal.
Family friendly eateries
Pack up a picnic for lakeside fun or dine in at one of Taupō’s many family-friendly restaurants and cafes.
Open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, this cafe has a homely feel and a kids menu with some unique choices, like gingerbread french toast and pikelets with passion cream.
Spot the helicopter parked up on Huka Falls Road and you’re in the right spot! Gluten-free, keto and vegan options available along with tasty savouries, divine sweets and freshly made salads.
The iconic family restaurant has something for every member of the family. The special kids area features a large fish tank, toys and games consoles and the kids menu caters for all ages (and includes those famous traffic light drinks!).
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An eclectic cafe serving freshly made meals and cabinet food and selling a collection of homewares too. Try the fried chicken waffles!
You can’t miss this cafe on the way into or out of Taupō from the south at Motuoapa. Spot the licorice on the roof and pop in for breakfast or lunch, with a selection of cabinet food and great coffee.
Where to stay
For family friendly stays, we recommend checking out the below. Or search here for holiday parks and campgrounds.
More than a place to stay, Taupo DeBretts is a destination! Year-round relaxation and recreation activities on-site in the Hot Springs waterpark and Living Waters Spa plus tasty food at the Savour Café. At Taupo DeBretts, you choose your adventure. Accommodation options include everything from luxury rooms to campervan and tent sites.
Tranquil 4-star accommodation set amidst a stunning thermal valley. Enjoy the 9-hole course, tennis on floodlit courts, two geothermally heated swimming pools and six outdoor hot tubs and an on-site spa. There’s a range of accommodation options including family villas and suites with WiFi and 24-hour room service.
Situated close to the lakefront with the shopping and restaurants just a short walk away. Modern one, two, and three bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchen, laundry facilities, air-conditioning heat pump, private spa bath, Sky TV, free WiFi, DVD, and stereo. The on-site swimming pool is heated year-round.
Family-run, affordable motel accommodation just a short walk to central Taupō. Choose from a range of accommodation options that can sleep up to eight. All air-conditioned with free WiFi and some rooms with spa pool/bath.
Main photo credit: Destination Great Lake Taupō
- Find more fun family adventure ideas
- Richie & Gemma McCaw’s top tips for family travel
- Why now is a great time to visit iconic spots around New Zealand
- Nature experiences around New Zealand that are made to share
Written by Kidspot New Zealand in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.