Exploring New Zealand on a backpacker budget? Can’t afford a skydive? Check out these cheap things to do in Taupo that won’t break the bank!
1. Huka Falls
Huka Falls are HUGE! How huge? 220,000 litres of flowing water per second kind of huge (that’s enough to fill one Olympic sized swimming pool every 11 seconds). These crashing waterfalls, are a 5 minute drive north of Taupo and are the most visited and photographed natural attraction in New Zealand, so it would be rude not to go, right?
You can cross the bridge and walk alongside the river, stopping at different view points to take in the mighty falls from all angles. You can pack a picnic and enjoy spending time riverside or choose to venture further out and follow a two hour walking trail in the native bush.
If the weather’s good take a jet boat to the base of the falls, admire up close the true power of the water and if you’re lucky, you may even taste the spray!
There are plenty of activities to do around the falls, including walking to Spa Park, going mountain biking or taking a boat trip. And what makes it even better is it’s free, yes FREE!
2. Otumuheke Stream, Spa Park
If you take one of the Huka Falls walking tracks you will eventually reach the Otumuheke Stream. The natural geothermal hot springs of Otumuheke Stream are situated in Spa Park about a 25 minute walk from Taupo town centre. You’ll find the two main pools under a bridge in the park and another pool about 30 seconds up a side track.
If you’re feeling brave, brace the chilly waters of the river and swim up to the pools or go for the easy option and slowly lower yourself into the warmth. Enjoy a gentle massage under the waterfall or a relaxing soak in the pools. The level and temperature of the springs varies depending on how much it has rained that day.
The hot pools are super popular with locals and tourists and there are no changing rooms nearby so bring a towel with you! If you want something a little more private, check out Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs & Pools. But overall, Otumuheke Stream is perfect if you want to experience some geothermal pools for free and an excellent way to kill time if your skydive has been delayed!
3. Sail Barbary to Maori Rock Carvings
My personal favourite has to be the Sail Barbary Cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings especially on a gloriously warm summer’s afternoon.
The Sail Barbary cruises are located at Taupo Boat Harbour on Redoubt Street. You’ll set sail across the largest lake in the Southern Hemisphere aboard a classic white sailing yacht. After a warm welcome and quick safety briefing from your skipper, the afternoon is yours to relax and take in the waterside views. Throughout your sailing trip your skipper will explain to you the cultural significance behind the carvings, give interesting facts about Great Lake Taupo and offer some incredible picture post card moments.
All the while, you can be sipping on a cold one as you can BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer)! Does it get much better? Oh yeah, you can bring food too. But the highlight of the trip has to be the 14 metre high rock carvings that are said to be the largest of this type in the world. Carved out by sculptures in the ’70s, you will be amazed at the sheer level of detail etched into the rock face and they are only accessible by boat, making the experience even more special!
After you’ve got your Insta-worthy snap of the rock art, feel free to take a dip in the crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo. Nothing beats jumping off the side of a boat! The Sail Barbary guys are all about getting hands on, so if you don’t fancy a swim, maybe have a go at hoisting the sails or steering the wheel. On the way back you’ll be offered warm blankets and fleeces to keep you cosy in case the breeze picks up.
Sail Barbary Cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings is a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Taupo. There’s something a bit special about getting out on the water and seeing Taupo from a different perspective. Oh and did we mention it’s only $49, that’s it! Don’t believe us? Take a look here.