Most scenic route from Rotorua to Taupo

Traveling from Rotorua to Taupo is enjoyable and straightforward, taking less than 60 minutes. The short drive from Rotorua to Taupo is a brief drive that follows State Highway 5, sometimes known as the Thermal Explorer until you reach Taupo. The road is a calm drive through the forest and rolling green farmland with few other cars. Several stops offer tasty snacks, lunch, or dinner. Hiking to gorgeous falls, enjoying roadside farms and attractions, and viewing other geothermal wonders are all options for road trippers. In this post, we’ve created a list of places to visit while traveling from Rotorua to Taupo.

Gondola and Luge at Skyline Rotorua

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Enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Rotorua from the Gondola before racing down Mt Ngongotaha on the Luge – a world “first” proudly developed and built in Rotorua. Take a picturesque 900-meter ride to the top of Mt Ngongotaha in an eight-seater gondola cabin and enjoy spectacular views of Rotorua. When you arrive at Skyline Rotorua, take the 180-degree vista before riding the Luge back down Mt Ngongotaha! The Luge is a thrilling three-wheel kart ride. 

The innovative braking and steering mechanism gives you complete control and allows you to travel at your own pace – an exhilarating trip for people of all ages. Take your first luge ride on the Scenic track (mandatory to become accustomed to the workings of the luge cart). The Scenic Trail is a 2-kilometer run through Redwood trees with photo opportunities at rest stops. Fun for all ages and youngsters as young as six can ride in tandem.

Lake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua is the second biggest lake on New Zealand’s North Island, located in Central Rotorua. Paddle out in a kayak to discover the mysterious Mokoia Island. After that, rest in the nearby Government Gardens public park or walk to Lake Rotoiti for some fantastic Rotorua photo options. This gorgeous and serene lake has a horrific past. 

Its underlying magma chamber collapsed following a big eruption some 200,000 years ago, making it one of the numerous large volcanoes in the Rotorua region. The collapse formed a 16-kilometer-wide circular crater filled with water to produce the North Island’s second largest lake. Geothermal activity is still active beneath and around Lake Rotorua. Clouds of steam swirl along the shore, and the water is sulfur-rich, giving it a stunning green-blue hue.

Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve

Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve is a geothermal landscape with uncommon plant species and a colorful landscape. The reserve is 26 kilometers southeast of Rotorua and immediately off State Highway 5 if traveling to or from Taupo. Rainbow Mountain (Maungakakaramea) features a smoldering terrain with brown, orange, and red soils and renewing native plants due to its volcanic history.

The reserve has a few walking trails for exploring the terrain. The Rainbow Mountain Crater Lake Trail is one kilometer long and takes around 30 minutes round trip. The longer Rainbow Mountain Summit Track is 2.5 kilometers long and takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete one way. The summit reward is a 360-degree panoramic view of Tongariro National Park and Lake Taupo to the south, Mount Tarawera and the lakes of Tarawera, Rerewhakaaitu, and Rotomahana to the north. The Paeroa Range may be viewed to the west, while you can see the Kaimanawa Forest and the Urewera Ranges to the east.

The Rainbow Mountain Summit Track is part of a spectacular mountain bike loop. Cyclists can start on grade 2 ‘Te Ara Ahi’ track from Kerosene Creek or the State Highway 5 car park. The ascent up the summit trail is followed by a descent on Te Ranga, a grade 4 mountain bike-only track.

There are numerous activities available upon your arrival in Taupo.

Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings

One of New Zealand’s most spectacular current Maori artworks is the massive Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo. Artist Matahi Brightwell’s carvings, which tower 14 meters over the deep water of Lake Taupo, have become one of the North Island’s most known tourist attractions. As you sail over the water in a yacht, see the sunset over Lake Taupo and the mountains of Tongariro National Park.

From December to March, Chris Jolly Outdoors offers a Cocktail Cruise every day at 5 pm. Taupo Sailing Adventures will take you on a sunset sail and swimming excursion on the Kindred Spirit. This two-hour tour departs at 6:30 pm and brings you to the Ngatoroirangi Maori Rock Carvings, allows you to swim in the clean lake waters, and includes pizza and two drinks while you cruise into the renowned peach-coloured Taupo sunset. At the same time, enjoy a complimentary beverage in the summer wind, cruise to the carvings and around Lake Taupo’ scenic harbors.

In the winter, Chris Jolly Outdoors Knight Rider scenic cruise is available every Friday and Saturday. When you arrive at Mine Bay by moonlight, the carvings will be illuminated by a powerful LED torch, allowing you to appreciate every detail.

Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave

The Hidden is between Taupo and Rotorua on the Waikato River (Lake Ohakuri) banks. Discover the Hidden Valley and follow the 35m thermal Ruatapu Cave to the stunning Pool of Mirrors. Orakei Valley Korako Cave and Thermal Park Off the main path, it is breathtaking in its grandeur and spine-chilling natural subterranean strength. Orakei Korako is accessible through a short ferry ride across the serene Lake Ohakuri. Explore a volcanic wonderland full of bubbling mud pools, hot springs, geysers, and incredible silica terraces. Watch the exploding Diamond Geyser.

Huka Falls 

Huka Falls feeds the Waikato River, New Zealand’s most incredible river; as it flows through a tiny ravine, the river narrows. A footbridge spans the canyon, providing pedestrians with a breathtaking view—over 220,000 gallons of water per second surge over the 11-meter-high waterfall. As you trek, the river will transition from a spacious and serene scene to the roaring wrath of the spectacular waterfall. Keep your camera available because there are numerous opportunities for stunning shots.

Tongariro National Park

Traveling south from Lake Taupo, you’ll come across Tongariro National Park, an iconic site. The “Tongariro Crossing ” is extremely popular during summer, famed for hiking paths and its three main volcanoes – Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Ngauruhoe, and Mt. Tongariro. The locals enjoy skiing here in the winter, with modern ski equipment and lifts.

Orakei Korako

You can find the Orakei Korako Thermal Valley as you get closer to Taupo. And this is a very active geothermal hotspot amid a rural and forested terrain. It is most famous for its fault-stepped terraces. You can see these terraces in the valley north of Taupo, on the banks of the Waikato River. The jade-green Emerald Terrace is the lowest terrace of Orakei Korako. With up to 35 active geysers, this is New Zealand’s largest of its kind. Orakei Korako is still New Zealand’s largest geyser field. The Diamond Geyser is the most well-known of these, with unpredictable eruptions ejecting hot water as high as nine meters.


Distance rotorua to lake taupo

The distance between Rotorua to Lake Taupo is 80.3 km (49.89miles). You can drive from Rotorua to Lake Taupo in 1 hour and 19 minutes or in under an hour.

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