The small lakeside town of Taupo is a perfect jump off for adventure lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. While most travelers visiting Taupo plan to spend time in Tongariro National Park, there’s also an amazing hike much closer to town. In fact, a dormant volcano overlooks Taupo, the lake, and everything in the distance! So whether you’re looking to warm up for the Tongariro Crossing or simply get out into nature, the Mount Tauhara hike shouldn’t be missed on your trip to New Zealand!
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Mount Tauhara Hike Information
Start: Mount Tauhara Car Park
Distance: 5 Km (3.1 Miles)
Time Needed: 3 Hours
Just a quick drive from the town center is a small parking lot at the start of the Mount Tauhara hike. An informational sign will greet you at the beginning with Mount Tauhara straight ahead.
I (Brigitte) first did this hike while backpacking through New Zealand 10 years ago, so on my return to beautiful Lake Taupo it was definitely one of the things I was most excited for!
Not only has the hike withstood the test of time, but these Taupo hiking views were even better than I remembered. To enjoy it to its fullest wake up early, and make sure to leave at least three hours to get up and down Mount Tauhara in New Zealand.
5 Facts About Mount Tauhara New Zealand
1. Mount Tauhara is a dormant lava volcano formed around 65,000 years ago.
2. It is part of the Taupo Volcanic zone which goes from Mount Ruapehu in the north to White Island in the south. White Island horrifically erupted in December of 2019, killing 21 people.
3. If you didn’t know, Lake Taupo is actually one massive volcano crater! This Taupo volcano was created by an eruption over 26,500 years ago.
4. Mount Tauhara sits 1,088 metres (3,570 ft) above sea level.
5. An old Maori legend says that Tauhara along with the Taranaki, Tongariro, and Putauaki mountains were in love with nearby Pihanga peak. A battle for Pihinga’s affection took place, and the winner was Tongariro!
Starting the Steep Climb Up the Taupo Volcano
One thing that makes this Taupo hiking trail so unique is the stroll through the countryside at the beginning of your climb. You’ll start by stepping up onto several small positioned planks that lead you over the fences. Then you’ll literally be walking through a working farm before climbing up the first hill!
After you make your way over the fences follow the winding path up the mountain. Walking through the bright green grass with Mount Tauhara above you feels like quintessential New Zealand. You’ll also get a great look at the town from this first section. The beginning may seem a little difficult, but it doesn’t get much steeper than this once you enter the forest.
Mounta Tauhara Tip: This probably goes without saying, but make sure to watch your step as there are lots of leftover cow droppings in the grass.
A Unique Taupo Hiking Path
As you climb the dormant Taupo volcano the trail will start to change before you. The Mount Tauhara hike goes from a typical path to high boulders, and trenches cut deep into the earth. After the initial countryside ascent you will enter the dense forest until you reach the summit.
The higher you climb, the more diverse the flora of Mount Tauhara seems to get! At one point we felt like we were walking through a scene out of Lord of the Rings, with moss covered trees and endless green ferns surrounding us. A little over the halfway point there will be a stream where you can fill up your water bottle if need be.
Mount Tauhara Tip: Much of the path is dirt so it’s best to avoid the Mount Tauhara hike after a heavy day of rain.
View From the Top of Mount Tauhara
Hands down, this is the best view in town! It typically takes us just over an hour to get to the top of Mount Tauhara in New Zealand. Once you arrive you’ll have a 360 degree view of town, Lake Taupo, and farmlands for miles in the distance. However, after the initial peak out of the trees at the top you’re not done yet.
Continue on straight ahead through brush along the top of the Mount Tauhara hike. You will see a collection of rocks just a couple minutes further which is the most beautiful viewpoint. It’s at this moment that we remembered we were standing on an actual Taupo Volcano! Cool right? Be sure to climb around the rocks to find a good picture spot as you take in the views from above town.
Mount Tauhara Tip: Depending on the conditions it can get very windy at the top of the mountain. Even on a hot summer day you may want to pack a windbreaker or something a little warmer.
The Hike Down
The descent will obviously be a little bit easier, but still take your time and enjoy the nature. You will go down the same way you came up, and probably pass a few other friendly kiwi’s along the way.
This is definitely a hike that’s done by locals and tourists alike. Popular times to hike are first thing in the morning for sunrise, or at the end of the day as the sun goes down. If you have a designated driver there are even some amazing spots to enjoy a bottle of New Zealand wine for sunset at the start of the trail!
More Lake Taupo Tips & Guides
- 17 Fun Things to Do in Taupo New Zealand Around the Lake
- Taupo to Huka Falls Walk: Fun Route, Hot Springs, & More!
- Taranaki Falls Track: 2 Hour Easy Hike to a Magical Waterfall
- 14 Helpful Tongariro Crossing Tips for the Epic Hike in NZ
Where To Stay In Lake Taupo
Ultra Luxury – Serenity On Wakeman – Positioned perfectly on the water, this fantastic hotel has everything you’ll need for an upscale stay in Taupo. Enjoy stunning views from your private balcony, a delicious breakfast, and all the amenities you’d expect in lakefront luxury.
Fun Vacation – Acacia Lake View Motel – This comfy motel is located just a short walk from town and is directly across the street from Lake Taupo. Offering apartment and hotel style units, the Acacia Lake View is a great spot for both families and couples.
Travel Couple – Taupo Debretts Spa Resort – Ready for some more hot spring thermal baths? With your stay at Taupo Debretts Spa Resort you’ll be able to enjoy them any time of the day. This fun resort has many other spa treatments available, is just a quick drive from town, and has a range of room options.
Hostel Life – YHA Taupo Finlay Jack’s Backpackers – Located walking distance to the lake, bars, Huka Falls Jet, and famous Lake Taupo Bungy jump. This hostel offers both private rooms and dorm beds.
For more places to stay in Lake Taupo you can explore the latest prices here!Have any questions about Mount Tauhara, or want to share your own Taupo hiking stories? Leave us a comment at the bottom of this blog!
Brigitte & Jake
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