When you live in a place like New Zealand, it’s all too easy to over-look its beauty. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been to Taupo before and enjoyed it but mostly when I was a child (and would’ve enjoyed anything). As I grew older, I would generally drive through it, as a way to get to other destinations, stopping briefly but never for long. It’s not that I disliked Taupo by any means, it’s that I didn’t see much of interest for me there.
I was wrong!
This year my family decided to holiday there and I dragged my boyfriend with – the temptation of a swim up bar was too great to ignore.
As it turned out, there were plenty of exciting activities to enjoy – I had a blast!
I’ve decided I’ll split this holiday into two posts. Although I was there for four days, two of those were half spent travelling, so I’ve merged my holiday into two sizeable chunks – a highlights reel that could easily done with two days in Taupo.
This is, obviously, my “day one”.
Auckland to Taupo
On this first day, my partner Michael and I left at 7am (on the dot if my Snapchat is to tell me anything, although when has it ever?), in order to make it to Taupo before lunch time. We took only two stops along the way, the first being Huntly, for a healthy dose of caffeine (and for Michael to figure out his wallet was still in Auckland), and the second in Tirau, to make much needed use of those iconic corrugated iron sheep toilets. It’s a reasonably long drive to Taupo but the roads are good and the scenery typically Kiwi, so it’s barely hard work.
We arrived in Taupo to meet my parents around 11, so besides the wallet mishap (thank the heavens for instant online banking), everything was going great!
For anyone that’s spent time in New Zealand, you’ll probably be familiar with the saying ‘four seasons in one day’ when it comes to our weather.
When we gave up on waiting for the rain to die down we headed to the Huka Falls. We were so glad we got out of the car and into the rain for two main reasons: the rain graciously stopped for us almost at that precise moment, and also the Huka Falls are BREATHTAKING.
I’m not quite sure why I’d never gotten around to seeing the Huka Falls, because there was plenty of reason to, not the least of which being that it’s incredibly accessible (if you’re in Taupo), as there’s little to no walking involved, and the beauty of it is right there to see immediately. In saying that, despite the weather it was rather crowded with tourists, so if you’re wanting to get that perfect selfie or shot of the falls, you may be waiting just a tad longer than expected.
The falls were both enticing and terrifying. I wanted to jump in and back away almost at once. I’ve seen many beautiful bright blues before, but none that exerted as much power as these falls did. I would definitely recommend checking them out, but if the awesome power of mother nature scares you a little bit, you might find yourself trembling slightly.
Fishing with a Twist – Huka Prawn Park
Next on our Taupto itinerary was Prawn Fishing at Huka Prawn Park – something we’d been looking forward to all day! The park is a convenient 10 minutes from Taupo City and on the same road as the Huka Falls, so there’s no missing it.
I’d done a fair amount of fishing on our family boat as a kid and I had a keen eye for catching yabbies (freshwater crayfish) in my youth when we camped at Kai Iwi Lakes, so I figured I had this in the bag (or the bucket), but sorry to spoil the narrative for you so soon – Michael and I both caught a whopping NOTHING between us.
In the past, fishing without a catch hasn’t been much fun, but it couldn’t have been further from the truth here. We had tonnes and tonnes of fun – we just didn’t have a tonne of time, something I recommend having if you want to catch some yummy prawns to enjoy on the barbecue that night (like we’d initially planned).
Regardless, this is almost a must-see if you’re spending your holiday in Taupo – especially if you have kids. We ended up going on a day when my sister and her kids still hadn’t arrived yet, but we felt they would’ve had a blast. The staff are super friendly, and it’s crazy close to other tourist hotspots, like the Huka Falls, Huka Jet and Craters of the Moon so if you do find yourself finishing up a little early, you’ve got lots of local options (though you could easily spend the majority of your day here).
What I didn’t realise was that this was actually an amusement park, where there was so much more than just prawn fishing – literally a days worth of fun! For the entry fee ($28 for adults, $16 for children, $0 for kids under 5 years), you can stay for as long as you like and keep everything you catch. So you can see why turning up at 3pm, 2 hours before closing time, wasn’t the best choice.
Aside from prawn fishing there’s lots to do there, including water park games and activities, trout fishing, foot baths (using geothermal heat), a great walk along the river where we got to see the Huka Jet speed by, a restaurant, paddle boarding, boats you can go onto and plenty more. I feel a bit ridiculous for turning up with no time to enjoy this stuff!
But what about the fishing? Well, with your admission you get a tour of the park, where you see the hatchery and nursery, and you get to see some huge, small, and all very creepy looking prawns – plus the tour guide will teach you how to catch ’em. As it turns out, there’s definitely a knack to hooking one.
In the end, an hour wasn’t long enough for Michael and I to get the hang of it – especially in the rain and wind which made it more difficult. However, we had a lot of fun, so if Taupo becomes our family holiday destination in a more ongoing sense, I’m sure we’ll be back. But this time in the morning!
Want to see what we got up to on our second day out and about in Taupo? Stay tuned…
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Thanks to the Huka Prawn Park for inviting us along! We had a great time trying something new and certainly recommend stopping off there (and don’t forget the gorgeous Huka Falls) whilst you’re in Taupo. All thoughts are our own.