Ngauruhoe measures 2,291m (7515ft) tall and is still classified as an active volcano with over 61 eruptions since 1839. It is a beautifully shaped "classic" volcano. The cone is thought to be 2500 years old but is still being added to.
It is possible to climb Mt Ngauruhoe from the South Crater on the Tongariro Crossing. I had planned to do this but didn't in the end as I had overestimated my fitness!! The cone takes about 2 hours to acend and 30 minutes to come down. It is a scoria scree slope which means you take 2 steps up and 1 down.
The Tongariro Crossing is a 8 hour hike across Mt Tongariro and past Mt Ngauruhoe in the Tongariro National Park. I did the hike a year ago and would thoroughly recommend it! I was not physically fit at the time and found it hard going at times but a great sense of achievement at the end! The park is at least a 30 minute drive from Taupo but there are buses that go there.
Please refer to my Tongariro National Park page for more information.
Waimungu Volcanic Rift Valley on the road from Taupo to Rotorua. You will find the world's largest hot spring and the most amazing craters in the Waimangu Valley. These craters were formed during the 1886 Tarawera Eruption. Amazing beauty, spectacular scenery, incredible geothermal activity, a nature lover's paradise of wildlife and plants. Frying Pan Lake, Cathedral Rocks, Warbrick Terrace. A leisurely walk will take you around the hot lakes, boiling springs, silica terraces and native bush walks. Or take a boat trip on Lake Rotomahana, the largest crater of the 1886 Tarawera Eruption to the steaming cliffs, the site of the famous Pink and White Terraces.
Waimangu Valley is found 26kms south of Rotorua (just 20 mins) on the Rotorua-Taupo Highway. Open 8.30am - 5.00pm.
Take a walk thru the lovely native bush, and see the Aratiatia Rapids. Find out at the information office in Taupo what times the power station opens it's floodgates, and this is a little bit spectacular to see.
The Maori culture is rich in this area and no trip to NZ is complete without going to a Maori cultural show. See the Maori men perform the Haka (a vigorous war dance), the Maori women perform with their poi`s and sticks and even be asked to participate. The Hangi (cooked in the ground, in a pit with river rocks heated by a fire on top) is delicious and a must to try. A trip to one of geothermal sites is also a must to see the boiling mud pools, hot mineral pools and geysers. There are also the Orchid Gardens, The Maori buried village, The Agrodome, Rainbow Trout Farm and many more interesting things.
Rotorua is only about a 40 min drive from Taupo.
Wairakei is only a few kilometres north of Taupo. You can see the area well before you arrive at the plant by the billowing clouds of steam. This is the site of Wairaki Geothermal Power Station which harnesses the energy of steam bores to produce electricity and minimise the importation of oil.
Mt Ngauruhoe is one of three major peaks in the Tongariro National Park which sits on a central volcanic plateau to the south of Lake Taupo. On a clear day the white tip can be seen for miles and makes a wonderful backdrop to Lake Taupo. Mt Ruapehu is the highest peak in the North Island and is very popular with locals and tourists alike for skiing. There are fully developed ski-fields on several slopes and even a hot crater lake surrounded by snow.
The Waikato River flows a length of 425 km's and out to the sea, It provides many power stations on the way. In the middle of the river just outside of Taupo township is Cherry Island which is a trout sanctuary. There is also a restaurant there for a lovely leisurely lunch. There is a rural feel with numerous animals roaming the island. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Signposted off Spa Rd.
From the Taupo 'roundabout' at the north end of Tongariro Street(New Zealand Highway One) take Spa Road east (up the hill.