Taupo Winter Weekend Retreat

Escape the city rat-race with a winter weekend retreat to Taupo, the North Island of New Zealand's ultimate ski and snow resort town.

Great Lake Taupo, New Zealand

It's 3pm and you are slumping hard on what can only be described as the dullest day of all time in the office. It's one of those truly miserable winter days where it's never even really got bright. Rain has been falling on and off all day meaning that even running out for a coffee and treat is out of the question unless you really want to rock a full blown 70's afro for the rest of the day.

But then you get a message. The snow report is looking good this weekend. The road trip to Great Lake Taupo and the finest ski field in New Zealand, Mt Ruapehu, is on! And so begins the winter weekend to beat all winter weekends.

Mt Ruapehu Ski Areas, New Zealand

Grab your ski gear, casual clothes, dressy clothes, underclothes, hairdryer, hair straightener, one of those giant 60's hairdresser machines that you put your whole entire noggin in, your favourite lamp, the kitchen sink, a full size replica of a steam engine - bring it all mate! If it fits in the car, on the car, in the trailer or within the replica steam engine your towing; it's coming.

Enjoy the leisurely drive out of the city. Feel free to scoff at the other grey-faced, office dwellers as you cruise passed. It only takes a few hours to get to Great Lake Taupo and once you’re out of the city limits only the odd tractor, horse-trailer or rebellious sheep is going to slow you down.

You arrive refreshed, revitalized and ready for action in Great Lake Taupo and check into your accommodation. There are heap of options - hotel, motel or holiday inn (Say what? Ok, there's no holiday inns... but pretty flash backpackers doesn't fit as well with SugarHill Gang beats).

Plateau Restaurant and Bar, Taupo

Drop off the steam engine, get your number ones on and get ready to hit the town. There are heaps of great restaurants and bars in Taupo. Classy locals favourites on a Friday night include Vine Eatery and Plateau. Feeling a little bit loose? Kick on at Pitch Bar or Finn MacCuhals - both have live music on the weekends. Element Bar is the place to go to mingle with the younger and traveller crowd.

The Storehouse, Taupo

Don't worry about setting the alarm clock - it's the weekend mate! After lie-in, head to one of the many delicious cafes in Taupo. The Storehouse has excellent coffee and breakfast delights, all served from a hipsters-dream renovated warehouse. For the health conscious, BodyFuel serves fresh, organic, gluten, sugar-free and incredibly delicious meals.

With almond latte in hand, take a stroll to the Mount Ruapehu Snow Depot. From here you can hire gear, buy lift passes, organise a lesson and hop on the Mountain Shuttle bus to the Whakapapa Ski Area and Happy Valley Snow Park. The Mountain Shuttle allows you to relax, chill out and enjoy the stunning drive around Lake Taupo and through the Tongariro National Park to the ski field.

Whakapapa Ski Area, Mt Ruapehu


Whakapapa Ski Area is the largest commercial ski area in New Zealand with heaps of runs for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. If you're new to snow, Happy Valley Snow Park is the place for you. It's a dedicated beginners area with a separate area purely for snow play - tobogganing, snow ball fights and building snowmen. Inhale that fresh mountain air and get amongst it.

Knoll Ridge Cafe, New Zealand's Highest Cafe

Don't worry about the time. This year, Whakapapa Ski Area is offering night skiing on Friday and Saturday nights from 4pm to 9pm. The lower mountain will be yours to explore as you watch the sunset and the stars come out. A pretty magical experience you won't forget!

Have a tipple over a meal in the Knoll Ridge Cafe, New Zealand's highest cafe with award winning architecture, a fully licensed bar and a tasty food menu. You'll get stunning views across the North Island of New Zealand's Central Plateau from the sunny deck. Inside, you'll find floor to ceiling windows framing The Pinnacles. After you've had your fill of snowy fun, it's time to hop back on the mountain shuttle to Taupo. 

Roberts St Restaurants & Bars, Taupo

Deposited in the centre of town, it would be rude not to visit another one of Taupo's bars or restaurants. Rocking up in ski gear is not only accepted but highly recommended. This is the home of the IRONMAN after all - snow pants are a far less disturbing sight in a restaurant than sweaty lycra.

Try the bars and restaurants on Roberts Street this time. With views of the lakefront, outdoor seating with heaters and cosy blankets - it's an awesome place to celebrate a great day on the slopes.

Taupo DeBretts Geothermal Hot Pools, Taupo

Don't fancy a drink or meal? How about jumping in a geothermally heated hot pool? Lake Taupo was formed from one of the biggest volcanic eruptions recorded in history. The crater it left behind filled with water to become the biggest lake in New Zealand and the biggest freshwater lake in Australasia.

You will find hot springs of gloriously mineral rich hot water and geothermal steam throughout the region. If your accommodation doesn't offer hot pools (which lots of them do) then check out Taupo DeBretts or the adults only Wairekei Terraces.

Sail to the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, Taupo

After another good night’s sleep, wake up to a leisurely brunch. Filled to the brim, make your way to Taupo Harbour for a scenic lake cruise. Experience the vastness of Australasia's largest freshwater lake and visit the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, New Zealand's most extraordinary artwork.

Before you leave make sure to snap a selfie with the #LOVETAUPO lettering. Hop in the car, head home, post pics online and make all your friends, family, co-workers, ex-partners, favourite coffee shop barista, local dairy worker and the adorable neighbourhood kitten very jealous. 

For more information and bookings contact the team at Taupo iSite at taupovc@greatlaketaupo.com, 0800 LAKE TAUPO (0800 525 382) or +64 7 376 0027.