A Backpacker’s Guide To Taupo, New Zealand

 In Active Travel, Backpacking, Budget Travel, New Zealand, North Island

Taupo is a popular town located in the central region of the North Island in New Zealand. It sits on the edge of ‘the big puddle’ as locals call it, or as we know it – the lake, which actually happens to be Australasia’s largest.

The lakeside town provides a visually impressive base for those who like to mountain bike, hike, fish, relax, party or star gaze. There’s certainly enough to keep you entertained, be it for a weekend trip or a week’s holiday.

In this guide I’m going to pass on my knowledge to you, from a backpacker’s {budget} perspective, about the best places to stay, party, adventure and explore.

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Did you know?

The whole of Singapore {we are talking surface area} would fit within Lake Taupo. THAT’S how big it is. It’s also crazy to think that Singapore has 5.4 million inhabitants, whereas New Zealand only has 4.4 in the WHOLE country.

Madness!

So whether you’re visiting as a backpacker or visiting on holiday, Taupo is FILLED with activities and adventure ready and waiting for you.

Accommodation

I stayed at Base during my time in Taupo, which hands down has the best location in terms of hostels. It’s a 30 second walk from the lake front and lakeview restaurants, it’s opposite Finn’s Irish Bar which is the place to drink and dance by twilight. Base even has it’s club below it, Elements, where you can pick up $5 pints and $8 jugs all night long.

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-6

Taupo’s hostel prices are similar to that of the rest of NZ and will fall between 25-32$ {for a bed in a dorm} depending on the time of the year you book.

Aside from Base, other popular hostels amongst travellers I found included: Haka Lodge, Urban Retreat + Tiki Lodge.

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-5

And then there’s always AirBnb, my favourite way to sleep uniquely and stay central without the massive price tag.

Get £25 off your first stay with my referral here {I get some money off my next stay and you get money off yours – WIN WIN!}

And if hotels are more your thing {you cheeky backpacker you}, there’s an abundance of gorgeous lake front properties. Google will assist you wonderfully on that one; unfortunately, I cannot speak from experience.

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-11

Now, before you get to Taupo…

…have a think about what activities you’d like to do {cocktails at The Vine and throwing shapes in Finn’s Irish Bar definitely both count as activities}.

Also, if the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is on your list, leave as much flexibility as you can for weather conditions. Particularly if, like it was for me, the crossing is super high on your bucket list.

I allowed 3 days in Taupo to do the crossing and testament to the New Zealand weather – it was too dangerous to encounter on any 3 of those days. I visited in November 2016 which is considered spring / early summer, so the weather can be super bipolar.

Luckily, I had left some further flexibility in my trip and I managed to hang around and complete it 5 days later when the weather eventually cleared.

So, take my word for it when I say the weather changes very quickly. A lot of people leave disappointed from not leaving enough time.

Good news though: there’s plenty to keep you occupied should you be waiting for the crossing…

My top things to do in Taupo

1. Tandem skydive over the lake

The best adrenalin surge of them all, and one of the best spots in New Zealand to do it in! You can jump from 12,000ft or 15,000ft with incredible views over the big blue lake. Book here

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-9 A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-10

2. Hang out in the FREE hot springs at Spa Park Taupo

Located near the Taupo Bungy site, you can walk to these natural springs from town and bath in them with your friends. It’s NATURAL, so there’s no changing rooms, lockers or showers. Pop your bikini on, leave your valuables at the hostel and remember your towel!

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-8

3. Visit Huka Falls

If you’ve done any research you’ll have seen pictures of this place all over the shop as it’s New Zealand’s most photographed natural attraction. The thundering water is SO impressive, passing through 220,000 litres per second – enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in just 11 seconds!

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-2

4. Sail the Barbary Lake Cruise

If you’re on the Kiwi experience you will get the exclusive offer of this BYO cruise at sunset for just $40 including pizza! Otherwise, the daily cruises are open to the public. Jumping on a cruise is the only way to access and view the Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay. Book here

5. Kayak / SUP on the Lake

6. Do a bungee-jump

7. Eat in the world’s most unique McDonald’s.

Lol. Got to be done.

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-4

8. Chill by the lake

If the sun’s out, you just can’t beat it. Take some lunch, your speaker and your mates down for a chilled one.

A Backpackers Guide To Taupo, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-3

9. Take on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Hike

Classed as the BEST DAY HIKE in New Zealand and one of the best in the world, the Tongariro Crossing is a 6-8-hour hike through some of the most incredible landscapes I’ve ever set eyes on.

Get inspired by my Tongariro Alpine Crossing Photo Diary here

Fancy it?

Read my Guide to Taking on and Completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing here

A Complete Guide To The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-37 A Complete Guide To The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-35

 

10. Head out on one of the famous mountain bike trails

See more information and choices here

Extra tips and tricks:

  • Every Saturday morning, rain or shine, Taupo has a local produce market on the Riverside Park Reserve
  • If your trip happens to fall in February, there’s a pretty cool festival called Wanderlust that you could tie it in with… the 2017 dates are 2-5th Feb.
  • My friend stayed at Whakipa Luxury Lodge and indulged in some INCREDIBLE star gazing. Now we can’t all afford luxury lodges but take the location as a prime spot!
  • If you stay at Base Hostel then make sure you take advantage of the discounts /coupons they have for you at reception. E.g. free chips with any burger at Burger Fuel on the water front.
  • Head to Pak’n’Save for the cheapest groceries in town!
  • Head to Pita Pit or TANK for healthy mealtimes

What are YOUR favourite spots in Taupo?

I’d love to know!

Thank YOU guys for reading <3

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie x

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