Taupo area - a wealth of walks

Walking New Zealand - - Con­tents - By Barbz Lowther

How many times have you passed through Taupo on the way to walks fur­ther afield, with­out stop­ping to ex­plore the walk­ing tracks right there?

Taupo has a va­ri­ety of walk­ing and bik­ing trails for all abil­i­ties - from scenic moun­tain tracks with spec­tac­u­lar

views over the lake, to trails fol­low­ing the Waikato River to Huka Falls and be­yond.

We chose a shared walk­ing/bik­ing trail that runs from Whakaipo Bay (N.W of Taupo Town­ship), to Kawakawa Bay – about 24kilo­metrs.

This is an easy bike ride, and part of the Great Lake Trail which con­tin­ues around the lake. It can also be bro­ken into two de­light­ful day walks. Kin­loch was our base, for two day walks.

The first day, we walked to Kawakawa Bay – a shady gen­tly un­du­lat­ing trail mainly un­der re­warewa and matai, but with lots of ferns and mosses bor­der­ing the track.

The trail be­gins at the west end of Kin­loch Beach, and there were stun­ning lake views as we climbed up from Whanga­mata Bay.

We wan­dered along the cliff tops to a rocky out­crop, with more lovely views, and from there it was an easy down­hill to Kawakawa Bay, which we reached in less than two hours.

The trail con­tin­ues on to Orakau, an­other 10 kms, but you need a ve­hi­cle at both ends.

Af­ter a re­fresh­ing dip in the bay, we re­turned to Kin­loch to sit on the beach

and watch the colours chang­ing as the sun set. It was so peace­ful.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing , we planned to walk to Whakaipo Bay- 12 kms from Taupo. This sec­tion of the trail was 14kms one way, a bit long to re­ally e-njoy a re­turn walk, so we left a car at the DOC. Re­serve at Ma­para Road and re­turned to Kin­lock to be­gin the walk.

This trail is spec­tac­u­lar – wide and leafy with pun­gas, ferns, and mosses shel­tered un­der tall Broadleaf na­tive trees. The track is mainly pumice, so it drains eas­ily ,and re­mains quite dry. At reg­u­lar in­ter­vals there were awe­some views out over the lake. Two look­out points were sign­posted, and both were worth the ex­tra cou­ple of kilo­me­tres to en­joy the views they of­fered, and a 9 km loop track led out to the tip of the head­land.

At about half­way, there were clean toi­lets and a shel­ter with a wa­ter tank, where we could re­fill our bot­tles. When we reached Whakaipo Bay, we raced into the lake, then sat on the beach brew­ing cof­fee on a lit­tle gas cooker. - It was heaven. – the per­fect end to a gor­geous trail.

Above: Above Kawakawa Bay. Be­low left: Look­ing south over Lake Taupo. Be­low right: Beau­ti­ful pun­gas

Above left: The end of the track at Whakaipo Bay. Above right: Trail be­tween Kin­loch and Whakaipo Bay.. Mid­dle: A re­fresh­ing swim at Whakaipo Bay. Be­low right: Signs along the way.

Above left: Beau­ti­ful views over the lake.. Above right; Lots of seeds. Be­low left: A windswept ridge. Be­low right: Droop­ing lichen.

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