Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand

Lake Locations:

New Zealand - North Island - Taupo -

If you are making your first visit to New Zealand, Lake Taupo in the Taupo Region of the North Island is an excellent first choice. New Zealand’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Taupo is located in the very heart of New Zealand’s volcanic and geothermal district. Here, one can explore the surrounding hot springs, geysers, boiling mud pits, mountains and semi-active volcanoes surrounding this clear lake. Miles of hiking trails, botanical refuges and wildlife preserves surround the lake, each with its own special emphasis.

The Ngati Tuwharetoa iwi (iwi: Maori tribe) arrived at Lake Taupo approximately 700 years ago. Tribal legend says that Ngatoirangi, the priest-leader actually created the lake, however geologists say the lake itself is the caldera of a volcano that has erupted at least 27 times, the last being around 181 AD. The deep clear lake supported few fish and the iwi stayed mainly around the southern, more productive end. The tribe survived primarily by hunting in the nearby forests and mountains, always in awe of the gods embodied in the many geothermal springs and features in the vicinity. Today, the Maori descendants still comprise 36% of the population and are an active part of the conservation community.

European settlers arrived in 1830s but found farming unproductive due to the ashy soil. Now, soil amendments have make the land fertile for farming. Brown trout were introduced into the lake in the 1890s as a food source and grew rapidly but proved elusive to catch so rainbow trout were stocked and quickly became the prized game fish in the lake. Logging enterprises quickly decimated much of the local tree cover, which was quickly replaced with non-native species. Even with all the changes brought about by European settlement, the Lake Taupo area remains the epitome of a New Zealand landscape.

The area around Lake Taupo is a photographer’s dream. The lake’s exceedingly clear waters carry a deep blue hue due to the chemical composition of the surrounding caldera. Much of the land area around the lake is under the protection of a loose confederation of conservancies assuring protection of the delicate landscape while providing access to the many visitors who come each year. Most visitors come first to the township of Taupo on the northeast shore of the lake near the outlet of the Wairakei River. Taupo and the small villages of Hatepe, Tokaanu and Motuopa cater to tourists and are well-supplied with vacation rentals and other types of lodgings. Real estate is available in the area for both personal and business use. New subdivisions and condos have sprung up around the larger towns but most of the shoreline is still wild and pristine.

Most visitors to Lake Taupo will head for the marina at the Taupo Boat Harbor. Here, charters for sightseeing and river cruises are available for business at the Booking Office along with float planes, para-sailing, jet-skiing and power boating. Tour guides here can provide a cruise on Lake Taupo or a trip on the mighty Wairakei River. The thirty-foot high Maori rock carving on the lake is best seen from the water via cruise. From here, charter tours can be located for fishing expeditions to capture the huge rainbow trout the lake is famous for. There are plenty of prime fly-casting waters at the mouths of the many streams entering the lake. The water level is controlled by gates at the outlet to the Wairakei River for power generation downstream but the lake levels don’t vary much from season to season. Hydropower and geothermal power from the Wairakei River region supply much of New Zealand’s electricity. There are many sand beach areas for swimming, kayaking and canoeing.

A good first stop for the first-time Lake Taupo visitor is the Taupo Museum where visitors can explore the region via computerized tour information after viewing the exhibits. The selections appear endless, from the miles of walking trails, mountain bike paths, areas for ATVs and horseback riding. The explorer may decide to visit the Pureora Forest, one of the finest rainforests in the world, located west of Lake Taupo. The thousand-year-old podocarp trees still grow where they did when dinosaurs roamed the area; the massive trucks of podocarps blown down by the last volcanic eruption in 181 still lie covered in ash. Others may head for Huka Falls, a few miles downriver to see the fabulous blue falls on the Wairakei River. And no visitor can leave New Zealand without visiting the Craters of the Moon geothermal area to walk on the boardwalks among geysers, boiling mud springs, hot pools and steam vents. Visitors interested in native flora will want to visit the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve in Taupo overlooking the lake before venturing into the many reserve areas surrounding the lake. The reserves support many varieties of native birds such as the rare kokako and the kaka, kakarihi, kereru, the long tailed and shining cuckow and North Island robin.

Those looking for adventure can sample the interesting and unique active sport choices in the Lake Taupo area including a bungee-jump area over one of the smaller bays. Taupo is often the jumping-off point for climbers on Mount Ruapehu a few miles south of Lake Taupo. Mount Ruapehu is the highest point on the North Island and the largest active volcano in New Zealand. Here in its foothills originate the headwaters of the Wairakei River. There are many camping areas located near Lake Taupo and many visitors spend days exploring from a remote campsite in the reserves. The visitor should follow established trails and use a published trail guide to assure they find their way back. Locals suggest always letting someone know your destination and expected return time to assure your safety.

Other cultural activities abound in Taupo including the arts, music and Maori cultural activities and events. Taupo is known for the many unusual and somewhat adventurous bars for the seeker of nightlife. All in all, Lake Taupo can be the vacation of your dreams. Vacation rentals are plentiful as are other lodgings and resorts. One visit to Lake Taupo may lead to regular visits over a lifetime. Follow the trail of the ancient Ngati Tuwharetoa. Your first visit wont be your last.

Things to do at Lake Taupo

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Taupo

  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Lake Taupo Photo Gallery

Lake Taupo Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Mighty River Power

Surface Area: 152,216 acres

Shoreline Length: 95 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,171 feet

Average Depth: 299 feet

Maximum Depth: 538 feet

Water Volume: 48,642,792 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 10.6 yrs

Drainage Area: 1,285 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

Spread the word! Share our Lake Taupo article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.