5 Reasons to Love Winter in Great Lake Taupo

The Great Lake Taupo region, spanning the picturesque volcanic landscape of the central North Island, is enjoying plenty of attention right now as New Zealand’s hottest winter resort destination.


Happy Valley and Whakapapa Ski Area lie a short scenic drive from Taupo and Turangi. Whakapapa has the most skiable terrain in the southern hemisphere and boasts New Zealand’s highest café at 2020 metres.

Happy Valley has had a massive overhaul with a new access elevator, new carpet lifts (including dome enclosures to keep you toasty warm) and a new dedicated sledding area guaranteeing fun for the whole family. Find out more about skiing and boarding at Mt Ruapehu here.


Great Lake Taupo has a huge compliment of off-mountain activities that are different to any other resort town in New Zealand. There are adrenalin sports like jet boating, white water rafting, bungy jumping and sky diving, as well as scenic lake and sunset cruises, sailing trips and kayaking adventures on Lake Taupo.

You’ll find multiple geothermal hot pools throughout the region, and mountain biking and golf are popular winter activities as the region’s volcanic pumice soil stays dry throughout the year. The many walking tracks in the area will take you on a journey to discover the stunning landscape, mountain views and native forests that surround the lake. Find out more about activities in Great Lake Taupo here.


This region’s geothermal features create a unique offering of divine hot pools and geothermal experiences you won’t find anywhere else. There’s nothing like soaking weary muscles in healing geothermal waters at the end of a day on the slopes, or you can opt for a warm geothermal mud wrap body treatment and massage at a local spa.

If it’s good old-fashioned fun you’re after, Taupo De Bretts Spa Resort has three hydroslides and a kids’ warm water fun park as well as multiple hot pools. Hot pools are perfect on a winter’s day or a cold and starry night. Find out more about geothermal hot pools here.


There’s a whole lot going on in Taupo after a day on the slopes! Come and see the town come to life with fairy light-lined streets and cosy bars and restaurants with hearty winter food menus, mulled wine and crackling fires to sit beside.

There’s everything from craft beer and wood-fired pizza in lakefront pubs to gourmet cuisine in top restaurants throughout the town. Many of these establishments offer spectacular sunset views and a vista of the massive Lake Taupō with the mountains of Tongariro National Park beyond. Find out more about Apres Ski here.


One of the most romantic things to do in Taupo in winter is to wrap up warm and take a sailing trip to the renowned Mine May Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo, only accessible by water.

The fourteen-metre-high carving of Maori ancestor Ngatoroirangi is carved into a rock face that towers above the lake, and it is phenomenal to see in real life. Make it a priority to get there, especially if you’re keen on photography. Find out more about the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings here.