Taupo has forever been a popular stop off for travellers, mainly because it is the jumping off point for the famous Tongariro Alpine crossing, often described as New Zealand's best single day hike. Try to coincide your time in Taupo when the weather is good (and the wind isn’t too strong), because the day long hike often gets cancelled due to the strong winds... For us it was unfortunately cancelled both on our way down and also on the way up! It takes around 6-8 hours and is a fairly tough walk, but everyone we met on route said it was 100% worth it.
Hostel: Haka Lodge or Urban Retreat are both nice and worth the money. Haka Lodge in our opinion is slightly better as it has a hot tub outside and bigger kitchen.
Our first day, we spent the afternoon chilling by Lake Taupo. It’s the main attraction in the town and no wonder - there are so many activities on offer and a stretch of lovely bars and restaurants along the lake side where we sat enjoying a few pints in the afternoon. Charlotte had the idea of renting bikes and cycling round it, however when we googled it and found out it was equal size to Singapore we quickly changed our minds.
As we come closer and closer to our low budgets, we made sure to make the most of the free walks, of which our personal favourite was the Huka Falls. It’s one of the fastest moving waterfalls in New Zealand and has the most incredible crystal blue colour, apparently due to the lack of oxygen in the water as it flows so quick. Another activity we highly recommend doing is visiting ‘Spa Thermal Park’, some free hot springs only a 20 minute walk from town. Pack a cool bag of beers and head on down for the afternoon, it’s awesome swimming in the freezing cold lake and then the water becoming boiling hot as you edge towards the rocks at the side.
Both of us had promised to ourselves to do a skydive at some point of this mega trip - however neither one of us expected it to be this soon! We had originally planned to do it on the Gold Coast in Australia, however on the day our Tongariro hike was cancelled due to bad weather, we bit the bullet and phoned to book our skydive just a couple of hours before completing it. Despite the total lack of mental preparation, in retrospect we decided that this was probably the best way to do it, to not allow ourselves the time to panic and back out. Taupo has the best skydiving in New Zealand with Lake Taupo providing unreal views as you jump back down to earth, so it almost seemed silly not to. It costs the equivalent of £250 to jump 12,000ft including photos and a video footage. The feeling is indescribable, I am petrified of heights however vertigo isn’t really experienced as you climb altitude in the tiny plane, the distance to earth is so great your brain is unable to comprehend how high you really are. Strapped on tight to our guides, we looked at each other and the panic set in. However before you know it they’re pulling open the door and you can’t hear a thing as the air beats through the plane. Your guide shuffles you forward, shouts to put your head back and bang, you’re gone. The feeling of free falling really is a bizarre one, to tell the truth I can’t remember the first part I was so petrified. Flying through the air with the sun shining down on the lake below was magical, and the moment he pulled the parachute I’ve never felt so free. After flying around above the lake for a while, we descended and ran into each others arms unable to believe we had actually just jumped 12,000ft out of a plane. For all those adrenaline junkies (and even those who couldn’t imagine themselves doing such a thing) YOU
MUST GIVE IT A GO!