Taupo, pronounced 'Toe-Paw' by the locals, sits on the edge of New Zealand's largest lake. Waikato River flows into Lake Taupo and is home to Huka Falls - one of Taupo's major attractions. The river is lined with tall pine trees and lush native bush and if you follow the bike trails, you will find Craters of the Moon - a park steaming and bubbling with volcanic activity. Bike trails surround the area and offer an adventurous, yet scenic experience for all levels: beginner, intermediate through to advanced.
Allow yourself half a day to explore the major 'must sees.' Head north of the town centre and follow Spa Road. The highway will lead you through to Spa Thermal Park - a free swimming spot with steaming hot springs - great for a swim in all weather conditions.
Here you can take 1 of 2 paths towards Huka Falls: the left will guide you along a walking trail that lines the lake. This is the easiest and most direct option. If feeling more adventurous, veer to the right and take on the mountain bike trails. The ride is absolutely stunning and will take you through canyons, greenery, pine trees, jumps and downhill circular tracks.
Soon you will reach Huka Falls for some fantastic photo opportunities. Cross the bridge and follow the main road towards Craters of the Moon. When you reach the highway you have two options; follow the main road about 30 minutes towards the geothermal park. Alternatively, Craters of the Moon bike park has loads of bike trails for all levels. The views are stunning and you can literally hear the branches falling from the tall pine trees as you zoom up, down and around the trails. Soon you will reach a car park with a main road that will lead you to Craters of the Moon.
There is a bike stand at the entrance of the geothermal park and entry is $8. Allow around 40 minutes to walk around the park and expect to be blown away - this place is called Craters of the Moon for a reason! As you stroll around expect bubbling mud pools and walkways that will guide you through the white, misty steam of volcanic craters.
When cruising back to Taupo you can mix it up a bit - take a different bike trail through Craters of the Moon Bike Park - or follow the main road. When you reach Huka Falls you can either make your way back to Taupo via the walking trail or explore more of mountain bike trails.
If you have enough time, head north from Huka Falls towards Aratiatia Dam. Each day the dam gates are opened to release rapids into Waikato River – forming a man made waterfall!
If you are looking for more of a relaxed day out, bike along the lakefront towards 5 Mile Bay. The beach here is beautiful and only 2.5km from town.
Whether you are looking for a bit of adventure, or wanting to see all that Taupo has to offer in a short period of time – biking is most definitely the most scenic, fun and rewarding option.
Base Backpackers can organise bike hire through Cornershop Cycles – the staff here are super helpful and will provide you with maps and local tips on the area.
For more travel tips, follow my New Zealand journey: www.facebook.com/basebackpackers