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12 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Taupo

Free and cheap activities in Taupo.

Love the great outdoors? Then you’ll love what the North Island city of Taupo has to offer! With so many pricey adrenaline activities to entice your adventurous side, you’ll want to balance things out with some free things to do in Taupo. Let us help you out with that!

The township and the surrounding area of Taupo is a haven for walkers, hikers and mountain bikers. See the largest lake in New Zealand running into a narrow river gorge creating dramatic rapids and waterfalls, the geothermal activity also creates natural hot pools to relax in, and so much more fun free things to do in Taupo! The locals are pretty friendly here by offering free honey tastings but don’t forget to enjoy the simple things in life like fish n’ chips and eating McDonald’s on an aeroplane. If you just want to skip onto the good stuff, take a look at 10 Taupo Must-Dos.

So here it is, some free and cheap things to do in Taupo!

Base Hostels

1. Hike up Mt Tauhara

A 15min drive out of town along State Highway 5 can bring you to the base of the Mt Tauhara walk. It’s not the most well-kept of trails so expect a bit of scrambling, which is arguably more exciting than a maintained track. Nevertheless, the beautiful bush walks leading to views of Taupo and over to Mt Tongariro are sensational on a clear day is well worth the climb!

2. Visit Huka Falls

There is nothing like watching more than 200,000 litres of water plummet through the narrow gap every second. Huka Falls is 1.6km north of Taupo, which can easily be accessed by bus, car or by taking the Spa Park walk along the Waikato River. Find out more about the walk at 10 Wonderful Walks Around Lake Taupo.

Location: 5.3km from Taupo. Take the Thermal Explorer Highway for approximately 3.4km and turn right onto the Huka Falls Road.

Paul Abbitt - Tourism NZ

3. Relax in a natural spa pool at Otumuheke Stream

Take a soak in the Spa Park hot pools at the start of the Spa Park walk. A hot stream flows into the Waikato River naturally forming these hot pools at just the right temperature to bathe in. Walk upstream to find more hidden hot pools.

Location: Spa Park along Spa Road.


4. Free honey and mead tasting at the Huka Honey Hive

Near Huka Falls is the Huka Honey Hive. The store offers free tasting of honey, mead (honey wine), and skincare products to try. Obviously, don’t taste the latter. You can also see the bees at work in glass hives. Who knew honey could be such an attraction?

Location: 65 Karetoto Road


5. Go to the coolest McDonald’s in the world!

We feel a little ashamed to get excited about eating at McDonald’s but just look at it – it’s a freakin’ aeroplane! However, if you really do want to get up in the sky (and fall down again), did you know that Taupo is the cheapest place in New Zealand to do a skydive? Check out Taupo Tandem Skydiving for more details.

Location: 48 Roberts Street

XPinger (Chris Sutton)

6. Sit by Lake Taupo and eat fish and chips.

Or as the locals say “Fush n’ Chups”. Discover why Kiwi’s are so fond of this takeaway meal! Check out some of the cheapest fish and chips deals in our Cheap Eats in Taupo.


7. Mingle with the locals at the Saturday Riverside Market

Held weekly from 10am to 1pm, the Riverside Market is a great place to find local produce, arts and crafts – souvenirs for the family? – and some scrummy food and drink.

Location: Riverside Park


8. Hang out at the Taupo Bungy place

With an awesome view of the Waikato River valley and the entertainment of watching people bungy jump, Taupo Bungy is actually a pretty cool place to take a break.

Robert Engberg

9. Go biking around Lake Taupo

Taupo is a great place to get on your bike as the trails tend to be well maintained and due to the draining pumice soil surface, the trails have little or no mud. Biking in Taupo combines seeing and doing with trails through forests, around Lake Taupo and along the Waikato River. For more information, take a look at 10 Awesome Bike Trails Around Lake Taupo.


10. Aratiatia Rapids

Rapids are a big thing in Taupo. To view some more dramatic water splashing, head to Aratiatia Dam, which releases the Waikato River for hydroelectric power several times a day. Release times are 10am, 12pm, 2pm in winter and 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm in summer.

Location: a – just off State Highway 5. 12km from Taupo.


11. Craters of the Moon

Not only does this geothermal park have a badass name, but it is one of the cheapest geothermal parks in the Taupo and Rotorua area at NZ$8 per person. Walk to craters and watch the earth steaming!

Location: 7km from Taupo. Signposted off State Highway 5.

craters of the moon taupo geothermal new zealand

12. Go camping!

Taupo is an extremely camper-friendly location with some great free places to spend the night. Enjoy a night alongside the Waikato River at Reids Farm Campground or on the lakefront at Five Mile Bay. For more information, see Where to Camp in Taupo and 5 Free Camping Spots in Taupo.


Now that you have seen all the free things to do in Taupo …

… Take a look at more Taupo goodness:

Flying Kiwi
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