Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand
Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand. It is located on the territory of the administrative district of Waikato in the center of the North Island in the caldera of the dormant volcano of the same name. Along with our Lake Baikal, Lake Taupo is a unique and valuable reservoir of fresh water on Earth.
Lake Taupo on the map
- Geographic coordinates ( -38.785717, 175.896058 )
- Distance from the capital city of Wellington approximately 300 km in a straight line
- The nearest airport is 5 km south of Taupo at the northwest end of the lake
About 30 rivers flow into the lake and outflows a single, but the longest and largest river in New Zealand – the Uaikato. In Maori, it means “water flowing into the sea. Lake Taupo is not only the largest lake in New Zealand. It is the largest freshwater lake in the entire South Pacific. And the second largest (after Lake Murray in Papua New Guinea) in all of Oceania.
Lake Taupo in numbers
- Length – 40.5 km
- Up to 28 km wide
- The area of the lake is 616 km2
- Absolute height above the sea – 356 meters
- Length of the coast 153 km
- The volume of water is estimated at 59 km 3
- The average depth of the lake is 110 and the maximum depth is 186 meters.
About 26500 years ago there was a powerful volcanic eruption (also known as the Oruanui eruption) which created a depression. It gradually began to fill with the water of the rivers, which changed their course and began to flow into the nascent lake. The rains also partially filled it with water. As a result, after some time and formed a full-fledged lake. In its southeastern part, there is a small island called Motuteiko. Its dimensions are 560 by 400 meters.
In ancient times, the volcano, in the caldera of which Lake Taupo lurks, was quite active. About 70,000 years ago there was a strong eruption. Scientists estimate that it can be estimated at 8 points. Then about 1170 km 3 of volcanic ash and lava were ejected from the bowels of the planet. Large eruptions were noted in the year 180 AD. The last known volcanic eruption known to history was recorded in 210 AD. Since then, the area around it has been uninhabited for several decades. It was not until 1280 that the Maori tribes returned.
Today the volcano is considered dormant, but he constantly reminds himself of the hot springs, geysers, springs and warm currents in the depths of the lake.
Nature and Climate of Lake Taupo
The lake has a temperate maritime climate. Daily maximum temperatures recorded here range from 23.3 o C in January and February to 11.2 o C in July, while nighttime minimum temperatures range from 11.6 o C in February to 2.2 o C in July. Rain can fall at any time of year, but the greatest amount of precipitation is recorded in winter and spring, from June to December.
Life boils both in the waters of the lake and on its shore. The surroundings are covered with dense thickets of coniferous and beech forests, ferns, and various shrubs. There are geothermal springs deep within the lake that have become home to colonies of sponges and several species of invertebrates. The aquatic environment is abundant with crayfish, small tulka and coho, rainbow and brook trout, which were imported from North America and Europe in the 19th century. And the trout food was smelt, imported from the same place. Now the fish population has greatly multiplied, which cannot fail to please fans of fishing. Fishing is one of the favorite activities on the lake, both for tourists and locals. Here it is quite realistic to catch a trout weighing 10 kg.
Lake Taupo Attractions
Tourism is a major component of Taupo’s commercial sector. More than 2 million visitors a year come here. The largest influx of travelers is during the high summer season during the Christmas and New Year’s Day celebrations.
At 80 km northwest of the lake is another famous and magical attraction – the Waitomo Caves. It is here where you can see the starry sky in the underground. It is highly recommended to visit or at least read about this natural masterpiece.
Near the lake are active volcanoes Ruapehu (2,797 meters high) and Ngauruhoe (2,291 meters high).
Lake Taupo in front of volcanoes
Lake Taupo is also famous for its rock carvings. In particular, the Maori bas-relief on the rock of Maine Bay, which depicts a face. It is more than 10 meters high and you can see it only if you get to it by boat, boat or kayak. It is noteworthy that this image did not appear in ancient times, but quite recently. They were created on the rocks in the late 1970s by Matahi Wakataka-Brightwell and John Randall. The face of the chief of the Tuharetoa tribe is carved into the rock. Legends say he lived about a thousand years ago. The sculpture is intended to protect the lake and its surroundings from destructive volcanic eruptions. Now it is not only a kind of totem, but also another attraction popular with tourists.
Bas-relief on Lake Taupo
100 km north of Lake Taupo is Hobbiton, a real hobbit village. This is a large-scale setting for filming movies about the mysterious land of Middle-earth. It’s worth visiting this interesting place and remembering the famous scenes about the “halflings”.
Five kilometers downstream from the source of the Huicato River, at a point where the width of the river abruptly decreases from 90 meters to 15 meters, the Huka falls (in the original Huka falls) were formed. It is a rough water stream of about 250 meters long.
And two kilometers from Huka falls on Karapiti Road is another interesting place “Craters of the Moon”. As you guessed, these are natural formations very similar to the craters of our satellite.
- Each year on the shore of Lake Taupo is a bike ride of 160 kilometers. It gathers about 1 million spectators. The start and end points are in the city of Taupo, the largest community on the shore A diagram of the bicycle route around Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo in New Zealand: description, size, flora and fauna
One of the attractions of New Zealand is Lake Taupo, located on the North Island in the province of Auckland, Waikato region. On the shores of the lake is a small town of the same name.
The lake is of ancient volcanic origin and is a popular tourist destination, attracting vacationers and the curious.
A bit of history
Looking at New Zealand on a map, it is easy to see that the lake is almost in the center of the island.
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If you look from a bird’s-eye view, you can see – the lake is a vast cirque-shaped basin, the so-called caldera, which was formed after the eruption of the volcano Oruanui.
The strongest eruption happened about 27,000 years ago, seriously changing the landscape of the island. According to research by modern scientists, the last eruption of Oruanui, which created the lake formation, had an apocalyptic level of danger. During the explosion of the inner part of the volcano more than 1200 km3 of magma particles and prickly materials rose into the air. Ash covered the entire island center, ash fell even on the central part of New Zealand and the island of Chatham, which is located at a distance of 1000 km from the North Island.
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After the eruption of a deep (almost 200 m) caldera at an altitude of 368 m above sea level is gradually filled with fresh water from underground springs, rivers that have changed their course, and the rains.
The water in the lake is not cold, because the proximity of the magma layer causes the activity of geothermal springs, they create warm strong currents at the bottom of Taupo.
Lake Taupo can be compared to Lake Baikal, because it is the largest freshwater reservoir in the southern hemisphere. For the Maori tribe, the aborigines of these places, the lake was a sacred place.
In the Maori language, Taupō sounds like “Taupō-nui-a-Tia” (Taupō-nui-a-Tia). It can be translated as “the cloak from Tia’s shoulders.”
According to the legends cherished by the locals, Tia was the name of the first Maori who came to these lands and saw the lake surface. The Maori consider the lake a sea.
Scale in numbers
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Even after arriving and looking at the lake, it is difficult to immediately realize its scale, because the blue smooth surface of the lake stretches far away and merges with the sky. If you look at the numbers, it becomes clear that the area of Lake Taupo is more than 600, to be exact, 616 square kilometers. This is twice the size of another New Zealand lake, Lake Te Anau.
The writer Jules Verne, who mentioned Taupo in Children of Captain Grant as exceptionally deep, almost without a bottom, was wrong. In fact, Lake Taupo is not very deep. The deepest place is in the lake center; when it was measured, it turned out to be 164 m, and the average depth is about 90 m. Of course, the depth of Taupo cannot be compared with Lake Baikal, because the famous lake in Russia is the deepest in the world (more than 1600 m).
The shape of Taupo is interesting: the oval lake of the North Island differs from the curvy river-like lakes of the South Island. Taupo is 46 km long and just over 30 km wide. It will take several days to walk around the lake, because the winding shoreline stretches for 153 km.
More than 30 rivers flow into the fresh, clear Taupo, the largest of which are the Tangariro and Ouaitahanui. Water collects into the lake from an area of 3,327 km2.
Only the Huaykato flows out of the lake.
The flora and fauna of Lake Taupo are no different from those of New Zealand.
Part of the lake shores is densely overgrown with beech and coniferous forests, green at all times of the year. The undergrowth consists of thickets of ferns and shrubs. Most of the plants are endemics. The symbol of New Zealand, the silver fern, is also found around Taupo.
The lake is inhabited by aborigines – tulka, coho salmon and northern coho – river crayfish, as well as imported in the century before last from the United States and Europe trout – brown, rainbow and brook trout. Trout have caught on, and now it is easy to catch a 10-meter-long specimen. Small smelt, also an introduced species, are food for trout.
But there are few mammals in the vicinity of the lake. As recently as a thousand years ago, only harbor seals and sea lions inhabited the shores of New Zealand’s islands, and bats lived in the interior. European settlers brought ferrets, ermines, rabbits, possums, which have actively multiplied on the fertile land. European hedgehogs, well adapted to local conditions, have also settled down here.
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The forests around Lake Taupo are home to kiwi, kea, owl parrot, and wingless sultan. There are also reptiles, non-poisonous and non-hazardous to humans, such as the gauntlet and the skink. There are no snakes not only near the lake, but also on the entire island. Unpleasant consequences may be in a person only after meeting with the poisonous spider katirpo.
The subtropical maritime climate on North Island, where Lake Taupo is located, is stable, there are no abrupt changes in the weather.
The summer temperature does not exceed +24. +27 oC, winters are mild, frosts below -10 oC are rare. In winter and spring it often rains for a long time.
The lake as a tourist destination
During the year, about 2 million tourists visit Lake Taupo, staying in the town of the same name. Of course, most people come for the great fishing. The lake and rivers are teeming with fish, with fishermen eagerly catching trout and eels. A fishing license is inexpensive-97 New Zealand dollars. The fish are cooked and served right away. Fishermen can rent boats and fishing gear.
What else is offered to tourists:
- Lake cruises;
- speed boat rides;
- water skiing;
- visiting the Valley of Dinosaurs (there are 30 life-size models of extinct animals);
- rafting on rivers flowing into the lake;
- bungee-jumping in the Uaikato and Waikato rivers;
- excursions to the shrimp farm and the local observatory.
Every year, cycling enthusiasts hold a cross-country race around the lake in New Zealand. There are many cycling routes of varying difficulty.
Finally, Taupo attracts those who want to swim in the crystal clear water as if poured into a huge volcanic bowl, have a picnic or stop by the restaurant. Tourists relax and contemplate the water surface, sitting on the banks covered with emerald grass.
Not far from the lake there are a variety of attractions, natural and historical and cultural. It is worth visiting them to get a complete picture of the place where Lake Taupo is located.
In the city of Taupo, you can check out the Lake Museum to learn how the Maori tribes lived on the shores of the lake, what crafts they did, and how Europeans explored these lands. There are interesting exhibits in the museum: real canoes, tools, weapons, gear, and a reconstructed Maori dwelling. There are stuffed animals and birds, including the extinct moa. The museum has a small art gallery and a botanical garden.
You can take a boat or boat to the northwest side of the lake. Here on the rock of Maine Bay is carved a huge, 10 meters high, menacing face of Chief Ngatoraruanga. This is a glorious Maori chief who lived a thousand years ago. The natives believe that as long as the bas-relief is intact, the volcano will not wake up and do not bring trouble. It looks ancient, but was carved at the end of the 20th century.
You can go to Waitomo Cave, where you have to get into boats again – the cave is almost completely flooded with water. In the silence and darkness, boats sail past ancient limestone accretions – stalactites and stalagmites. But the main decoration – fireflies. The glowing insects have taken a fancy to the stone vault, creating the effect of the night sky, sparkling with millions of stars.
You can’t visit Lake Taupo without visiting the Huko Falls. This is the most popular attraction on the Waikato River. From the Maori language, Huka translates as “foam,” and it is true. The stream of water, squeezed by the mountains, rushes with noise, foam and iridescent overflows from a height of 20 meters. There is a bridge over the waterfall for easy viewing.
It is also interesting to see the discharge of water from the dam Aratiatia not far from the lake. Water is discharged twice a day.
Looking at New Zealand on the map, you can not miss the park Orakei-Korako, where in the valley, formed by an ancient volcano, there are numerous geysers.
Nearby is a geothermal complex “Craters of the Moon”, it is here that tourists bathe in hot mineral springs. The most popular is called “Champagne Pool”, the water temperature on its surface reaches 76 ° C. To move in the park can only be on specially paved paths, stakes, as the ground is too hot. Because of the proximity of igneous rocks, the earth and some plants are pink.
And another unforgettable tour awaits those who go to Hobbiton.
The set of the famous movie is turned into a museum, so it is interesting to all fans of the trilogy. With 40 houses, orchards and a mug of ale to boot, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Extreme near Lake Taupo, tourists are offered:
Taupo is part of a seismically active volcanic zone, which is why Toganriro National Park is located on its shores.
On the territory of the park are sacred mountains Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngaruhoe. These volcanoes were considered dormant, with only Tongariro occasionally breathing colorful vapors. In 2010. Tongariro became active, spewing ash and rocks and scaring the locals.
On the slopes of Ruapehu volcano opened ski resorts Fakanapa (43 slopes), Turoa (17 slopes), Tukino (has gentle slopes).
Specialists of the Institute of Geology, which is located in the park, study the volcano Taupo, and show visitors to the observatory of volcanoes and geysers activity. Tourists are encouraged to create a computer simulation of the volcanic activity zone and try out earthquakes of varying magnitude.
How to get there
Lake Taupo, New Zealand, is only accessible by air. There are daily flights from Wellington, Auckland, and Australia to the Taupo airport.
You can see the sights by taking a sightseeing bus. It departs every hour from the city center from the stop marked i-SITE and takes you to all the tourist sites. The cost of the ticket is 15-25 USD (1000-1675 rubles).
Another option is to rent a car, this will cost 60 USD/day (4000 rubles).