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Road Trip New Zealand: Go Taupō & Ruapehu

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, Taupō and Ruapehu offer plenty of heart-pumping thrills, heart-warming vistas, and activities to calm the heart (oooh spa days). Whatever is near and dear to your heart, there’s an experience in Taupō and Ruapehu to suit.

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, Taupō and Ruapehu offer plenty of heart-pumping thrills, heart-warming vistas, and activities to calm the heart (oooh spa days). Whatever is near and dear to your heart, there’s an experience in Taupō and Ruapehu to suit.

To inspire you on why you need to put this AH-MAZING road trip at the top of your 2022 travel list, we’ve paired up with Tourism New Zealand to show you the wonderous experiences that are sure to capture your heart.

3-Day, 148km: Long Weekend Road Trip from Taupō to Ruapehu

Start day one of your Taupō to Ruapehu road trip with a fast-and-furious spin with Hukafalls Jet up the Waikato River. Huka Falls River Cruise offers the best views of New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction.

A soak in Taupō’s world-famous geothermal pools is an #NZMustDo. Swim, soak, and enjoy a massage at the 5-star Taupō De Bretts. End the day with a local delicacy from one of the fabulous Taupō eateries.


Day two, enjoy sunrise and incredible views on the lake from a Doughnut boat. Next, wander the 80 murals on the Graffiato walking tour. Also, don’t forget to grab a selfie at the iconic #LOVETAUPŌ sign.

From here, it’s a 75-minute drive to Whakapapa Village, in the heart of Tongariro National Park. Walk or hike one of the extensive trails; some take you into the thick of the volcanic landscape of this UNESCO Dual World Heritage Site. Overnight at National Park Village.

Ohakune eclair, image credit: Visit Ruapehu

Day three, the delights of NZ’s carrot capital await in Ohakune. A selfie at the 7.5-metre-tall carrot is a must, obvs! You’ll also want to head to the Waitonga Falls, cycle the Ohakune Old Coach Road, or gorge yourself at Ohakune’s delicious eateries.

Can you please, please, have a world-famous Johnny Nation’s chocolate éclair for us?

7-Day, 320km: Taupō to Ruapehu

Day one, overnight in Kinloch, a 15-minute drive from Taupō and home to some of the best glamping and luxe boutique accommodation. Explore the Great Lake Trails on foot or by mountain bike: the W2K section passes the gorgeous Whakaipo Bay.

Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave. Image credit: Visit Ruapehu/Martyn Davies

Day two, experience the gushing geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools and some of the largest silica terraces in the world at Orakei Korako. It’s other-worldly.

Next, head to Taupō via Lava Glass, a unique sculpture garden. The silica- and mineral-rich pools at Wairakei Terraces are the perfect spot for an I’m-on-vacay therapeutic soak.

Revel in the majesty of Huka Falls on day three. Walk the 2-hour Huka Falls Trail, stopping at the free Otumuheke hot stream.

Mine Bay. Image credit: LoveTaupo/Todd Eyre

Conclude day three with an early evening cruise to the iconic 14-metre Māori carvings: Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings. Follow this with a delish dinner at Embra or Brantry.

Depart Taupō day four for Ohakune via Turangi, gateway to Tongariro National Park. Go trout fishing here or raft the white-water rapids, hike and bike.

Drive the Desert Road from Turangi to Waiouru, where the National Army Museum provides a roadside break. Continue on to the chill mountain town of Ohakune, access point to Mt Ruapehu’s popular Tūroa ski area.

Ohakune Old Coach Road. Image credit: Visit Ruapehu
Ohakune Old Coach Road

Day five, start the day with an easy walk to the epic Waitonga Falls. Next, pedal the iconic Ohakune Old Coach Road before checking out Raetihi Arts Trust Gallery. Overnight back in Ohakune.

Rise early day six to drive to Pīpīriki for a memorable day with the Māori-owned Whanganui River Adventures. Jetboat to the remote Bridge to Nowhere, or take a family-friendly canoe tour.

Chateau Tongariro Hotel High Tea
Chateau Tongariro Hotel High Tea

For the afternoon, head up to National Park and Whakapapa Villages, where top-notch biking and tramping trails are abundant. If you prefer a more mellow experience, enjoy High Tea at Chateau Tongariro Hotel.

Lord of the Rings fans can scout for the area’s filming locations.

Your final road trip day is fun-filled around Taumarunui. Experience a rail cart journey with Forgotten World Adventures, visit the award-winning Bradley’s Gardens, get an Insta-fabulous picture at Lauren’s Lavender Farm, or cuddle a baby alpaca at Nevalea Alpacas.

Top Five Things to Do in Taupō and Ruapehu

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Get Inspired

Look how easy it is to get centred in enchanting Taupō!

Ruapehu is a place of connection: to nature, to each other, and to yourself. Connect to this video and discover why.

Driving Taupō & Ruapehu

1000x568 Off on an adventure

Being the heart of the North Island, reaching Taupō and Ruapehu is straightforward from anywhere. Roads are easy to navigate and present no real challenges to Australian drivers.

During the ski season, you can drive to Mt Ruapehu’s summit. Pay attention to the digital signs that display up-to-date road conditions, and be sure to add snow chains to your rental car booking.

Get the Road Trip Playlist

Music is an excellent gateway to a destination. Get carried away to Taupō and enjoy a mood-capturing sing-a-long to Ruapehu with this top 15 Spotify playlist.

Travel Advisor? Gain Access to the Marketing Hub Toolkit

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Join Tourism New Zealand’s Australian Trade Team on a virtual road trip through Taupō and Ruapehu! For one informative hour, you’ll learn everything about these two incredible regions of New Zealand.

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