It’s a mixed result when you ask people about their hometown. From my experiences there are two reactions. The first, they dislike where they grew up and when asked, they only have negative things to say about their home. The second is they love where they grew up, this is the category I fall into. I have always appreciated my home town of Taupo yet the more I travel the deeper my love.


Located in the central North Island of New Zealand is a giant playground. Situated on the edge of a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains and forest parks there is no shortage of activities. Bungee jumping, jet boating and skydiving are among the most popular but can be extremely pricey for your average backpacker.

Here are the best activities you can do for FREE in the summer months!

Climb Mt Tauhara

Mt Tauhara sits 10 minutes to the east of the town, it is visible from about anywhere within the district. Depending on your fitness it takes 1-2 hours to climb, and 1 hour to descend. There is a car park at the base where you start the walk through farmland. The rest of your climb is through vegetation which is welcome on a hot summer’s day. Once at the top the view is well worth the hike, a full 360 degrees of the surrounding area.

Whakamoenga point

Hard to find if you’re not a local but well worth the effort. Located just past Acacia Bay you follow the lake edge around until you reach a dead end road. From here you have to walk along a trail for about 15 minutes. Upon reaching the end you will walk out onto a rock plateau that drops half a metre down into the crystal clear waters of the lake. This is an ideal spot for swimming, fishing and just hanging out with mates having a few beers. If you’re inclined to jumping off rocks you can swim a couple of hundred meters around to your left and climb shag rock (another popular locals spot).

Hot Spot

If you’re a backpacker searching for things to do in Taupo, the hot spot would have popped up somewhere. Popular with tourists is the geothermal stream that holds some ideal pools to bath in. Flowing out into the Waikato River you can find different pools that alter in temperature. The Hot Spot is situated in Spa Park, a huge reserve which is also ideal to throw a ball or Frisbee around, only walking distance from town.

River Float

This is something you would do if you’re a competent swimmer, but it could be the highlight of your stay. Starting at the river mouth near the only bridge in Taupo you float down the river until you reach Reid’s Farm (below). Ideally you want a flotation device such as a tire tube or a blow up ring. Simply jump in the river and let the current take you downstream. The transparent water allows you to catch glimpses of Rainbow trout. *Make sure you get out a Reid’s Farm or you’ll go over Huka Falls.

Reid’s Farm

Don’t let the name fool you, Reid’s farm is a freedom camping spot. A 10 acre site that stretches along the banks of the Waikato River. Make sure you bring a fishing rod. Although the facilities are basic, you can’t complain when you’re not paying. The vibe is amazing as the cultural diversity of thousands of tourists make it a good place to party, relax and meet new people.

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