As another deep pink, glowing sunset highlights the snowy volcanic peaks at the far end of the lake, it’s easy to see why Taupō is fast becoming New Zealand’s coolest lakeside winter resort town.
With New Zealand’s two largest ski areas just down the road, you’d expect Taupō to be all about snowsports. While snowsports are a big drawcard for some, Taupō is a true all-round winter holiday destination. It’s a perfect blend of mountain sports, off-mountain activities, a crystal-clear lake, real geothermal hot pools and jaw-dropping scenery that you won’t find anywhere else.
DeBretts Spa Resort.
Blessed with natural geothermal activity, Taupō and the tiny southern village of Tokaanu offer up glorious, steaming hot pools that are one hundred percent natural. The healing properties of the mineral waters have been known by Māori for hundreds of years and are the perfect therapy after a day of winter adventuring.
This year is an exciting one for Whakapapa, the largest ski area in New Zealand that lies just over an hour’s drive from Taupō and 40 minutes from Turangi. A new gondola, the Sky Waka, has been installed to take visitors from the base area to the upper mountain in record time. Sightseers can enjoy a warm ride to the top and barely have to step outside before entering the architecturally awarded Knoll Ridge Chalet, also New Zealand’s highest café.
Knoll Ridge Cafe.
A daily shuttle runs from Taupō via Turangi to Whakapapa, and for sightseers who aren’t chasing first tracks on the mountain there’s also a sightseeing shuttle from Taupō that drops you off almost at the entrance to the gondola.
Accommodation is easy to find in Taupō, Turangi and the surrounding lakeside settlements. Stay on the lakefront to make the most of the spectacular views, rent a cosy holiday home or discover one of the region’s luxury or boutique lodges.
Taupō has a great après ski vibe around the fairy-lit streets of the town centre. Lakeside bars and restaurants are popular with those wanting hearty food, live music and extensive craft beer collections. The town centre also boasts a large number of restaurants serving fresh local cuisine and ethnic food.
Fireside drinks at 2 Mile Bay Sailing Centre.
July is a great month to visit as the Taupō Winter Festival will be in full swing. From 4-14 July the Tongariro Domain is transformed into a winter wonderland with a giant snow-filled globe, an indoor ice-skating rink, a spectacular light display at night and a myriad of music, comedy and arts events.
As an all-round winter holiday destination Taupō really does have an advantage over the rest. Check out www.lovetaupo.com for more info and bookings.