Taupo to Rotorua

Located in the heart of Aotearoa’s North Island, Taupo is jam-packed with mind-blowing Insta-worthy sights - from breathtaking geothermal features to ancient forests and crystal clear rivers.

Once you reach Rotorua, the Bay of Plenty is sure to captivate and enchant. Here, you’ll experience the indigenous Māori culture of New Zealand and 'manaakitanga' - Kiwi hospitality.

Tips for planning your next trip

A lit up sign saying #lovetaupo with the sun setting in the background.
Image credit:@faithys_xo

Here are our tips for the ultimate road trip from Taupo to Rotorua City.

Research your destination

New Zealand is a small country, where one location may appear close to another on a road map. However, due to winding roads and rugged terrain, the route could be much longer. The distance from Taupo to Rotorua (and back from Rotorua to Taupo) is 80 km along State Highway 5.

Plan your itinerary and activities

We recommend checking the requirements for attractions in Taupo and Rotorua online before you arrive.

Check the weather and travel advisories

New Zealand weather can be unpredictable, so stay up-to-date with the local meteorology service when travelling.

Day 1: Taupo

Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave

Image credit: @lisadorenfest

Delve into a volcanic world filled with bubbling mud pools, hot springs, geysers, and amazing silica terraces. Watch the explosive Diamond Geyser erupt every few minutes. Find the Hidden Valley and follow the 35m thermal Ruatapu Cave to the spectacular Pool of Mirrors.

Huka Falls

Couple enjoying a jetboat ride past the Huka falls, with the waterfall flowing in the background.
Image credit: @backpackerdeals

The 100m-wide Waikato River flows through a 20m-wide gorge to create Huka Falls. Watch the water drop spectacularly into the cool, azure pool below from several lookout points.

Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings

Family enjoy a kayak in front of the Maori rock carvings while a sailing boat waits for them.
Image credit: @jordan_zetan

The Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo tower 14m above the water. For access, take one of Taupo’s boat cruises, a sailing boat, or kayak from Taupo Boat Harbour.

Craters of the Moon

Child about to walk past a bubbling geothermal pool at Craters of the moon Taupo.
Image credit: @samdebmic

Take a 45-minute walk along winding boardwalks above bubbling craters, fissures, mud pools, and steam vents. You can also observe an abundance of plants that thrive in these hot and steamy conditions.

Wairakei Terraces

Image credit: @wairakeiterraces

These must-see silica terraces provide an unforgettable experience for all visitors. Head to the bottom of the terraces to bathe in exquisite naturally-heated hot pools.

Lava Glass

Woman stands in front of some flowers made from lava glass arms raised in the air.
Image credit: @worldonapalette

Lava Glass is a world-class art gallery with a twist. An award-winning cafe and tranquil garden surround a bespoke studio space. Take home a beautiful piece of New Zealand landscape set in sustainably made glass art.

Day 2: Rotorua

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Beautiful pool of water somewhere along the Waimangu volcanic valley walk in Rotorua.
Image credit: @ribeirochris_

Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the former site of the pink and white terraces and home to steaming volcanic crater lakes - Frying Pan Lake Crater and Inferno Crater. Follow the walking and hiking trails to discover more about this unique geothermal ecosystem and view the devastating effects of the Mt Tarawera volcanic eruption in 1886.

Lake Rotorua

Scenic shot of lake Rotorua with a colourful sunset illuminating the sky.
Image credit: @t.s_phtography18

Located in Central Rotorua, Lake Rotorua is the second largest lake on the North Island of New Zealand.

Hire a kayak and paddle out to explore the mysterious Mokoia Island. Afterwards, relax in the nearby public park of Government Gardens, or head to Lake Rotoiti for some fantastic Rotorua photo opportunities.

Te Puia

The Te puia geysers in Rotorua with steam shooting out setting a great scene.
Image credit: @_nahota

Te Puia is the home of the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere - the Pōhutu Geyser. First, head to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute to learn about Māori culture and watch cultural performances. Then, stay until sundown for interactive tours through the geothermal valley along the Te Puia Light Trails.

Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve

Stunning shot of the Blue Lake and the Rainbow Mountains in Rotorua.
Image credit: @jordanperry01

Rainbow Mountain offers spectacular vistas of the surrounding countryside, coloured earth, and rock. On a clear day, you can see Mt Tarawera, Mt Ruapehu, and Lake Rotomahana.

Gondola and Luge at Skyline Rotorua

A family goes Luging at Skyline Rotorua with expansive views of the city and lake behind.
Credit image: @skylinerotorua

Why not cap off the day and take a scenic Skyline Gondola ride to get in some heart-pumping Luge action? Zip down the scenic track on a gravity-fuelled toboggan amongst the giants of the Redwoods Forest.

Discover more amazing things to see and do in Rotorua

Visit Skyline’s blog for more ideas to fill your time in the amazing city of Rotorua, from the living Māori village of Whakarewarewa to the Champagne Pool of Waiotapu and the thermal wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu.

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