NATURES ULTIMATE PLAYGROUND
Where to visit at this time of the year is always a conundrum. Taupo and surrounding regions go a long way to solving that as the area is both cold and warm. The snow winds blow down from the mountains but there are also Hot Pools. Taupo is a year round d
Play Away with AVIS and visit the central North Island where there is so much to do.
With stunning natural landscapes you could be sipping a micro-brew at the county's highest café on the side of an active volcano, skiing on New Zealand's largest ski area, enjoying a wide range of waterborne activities, making the most of the fantastic hiking and fishing in the surrounding forests and rivers.
For those of you who like to cast a line, it is easy to organise a fishing charter to cruise the lake or drive 40 minutes south to Turangi, the Trout capital of New Zealand, where you can team up with a fly fishing guide. You won't see trout on the menu in this town, as buying the protected species is prohibited in New Zealand, but many restaurants are very happy to prepare and cook your own fresh catch.
For another unique angling adventure, head to the Huka Prawn Park, the only place in the country you can go fresh water prawn fishing. The geothermal waters trick the tropical prawn into thinking they live in warmer climes. You can cook your catch on-site or have them put ‘on ice' to take away.
After the magic of the Prawn Park take a short drive to Huka Falls, New Zealand's most visited and photographed natural attraction. Here the normally wide Waikato River is suddenly squeezed into a tight 15-metre-wide chasm before bursting out over an 11-metre- high fall to rejoin the river valley below. The result: An angry, swirling mass of crystal-clear blue water, enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 11 seconds. Play it safe and grab a selfie from one of the walking trails or viewing platforms above the gorge or be brave and hitch a thrilling ride with a ‘Hukafalls Jet' into the raging white water at the base of the falls.
The Taupo Cliffhanger is New Zealand's newest extreme swing, which lets swingers take in the view while they swing through nature. Located upstream of Huka Falls, and just 5 minutes from the Great Lake. Taupo Cliffhanger has been a concept in the making for many years. Finally, in 2009, the site started construction for an extreme swing. The platform was constructed off-site, then brought in and attached to the underneath of an existing, bungy platform. Enormous logs were erected in A-frame fashion on either side of the cliff, and cables connected, which established the path of the swing.
For something at a more sedate pace take to the Lake Taupo, the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. Formed some 2000 years ago by a massive volcanic eruption it was said to have darkened the skies in Europe and China.
Enjoy a boat trip or kayak to the impressive 10-metre-tall Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay. In the 1970s, the soaring cliffs above the bay became an epic canvas for a master carver and
other local artists. They etched a likeness of Ngatoroirangi, the visionary navigator of the Te Arawa canoe. Sit back and relax on a scenic cruise and sail across the lake with one of the operators, this is a fantastic half day experience. Your will need to have a thick coat though!
Take a day trip to the Tongariro National Park, about an hour and a half's drive south of Taupo. Drive up the mountain and to the village of Whakapapa and the historic Chateau Tongariro Hotel. This grand hotel which opened in 1929 is gradually being modified and modernised but is still a great place to dine and stay.
Pack some walking shoes and a sense of adventure and tackle the Tongariro Crossing, billed as one of the world's top 10 day walks. This other-worldly landscape inspired Sir Peter Jackson's desolate Mordor in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
At the end of the day you can wind down with a soak in one
of the region's natural thermal pools. A stone's throw from Wairakei golf course are the Wairakei Terraces Hot Pools, where you can relax in the warm silica-infused adults-only springs, or stop off at DeBretts Hot Springs after a day up the mountains for some more family-friendly fun. There's
also a few hidden gems to be discovered. Before teeing off at one of the regions golf courses, get your swing in at the Lake Taupo Hole In One Challenge, situated right on the lake front. If you fancy yourself off the tee, a hole in one will earn you some fantastic prizes - how does $10,000 sound!
Maori Carving at Mine Bay.
Fishing, Lake Taupo.