New Zealand is definitely an adventurer’s dream, but some destinations offer more excitement than others. Taupo, on the eastern edge of Lake Taupo, in the centre of the North Island, is one place that gives its more famous sisters, such as Queenstown, a run for their money.
Huka Falls is top of the list. This spectacular, churning waterfall spills around 220,000 litres of water per second (!!) through its 11m drop. This incredible volume and speed is caused by the sudden narrowing of the Waikato River from around 100 metres wide to just 15 metres, forcing the water through a narrow gap. Watch the powerful rapids splash and roll beneath you from the viewing bridge, or take a jet boat ride at the base of the falls with Huka Falls Jet. You can walk or ride to Huka Falls from Taupo, along separate tracks from Spa Thermal Park. The easy one-hour walk takes you past Otemuheke Stream (a natural hot spring), plus forest, gullies and farmland and is a great way to experience the natural environment. Plus, once you return to Spa Park, you can soak away the walk in the hot pools. Upgrades commenced 2018 to improve lounging areas, seating and landscaping, improving the amenity for visitors and locals.
Just outside the park is Taupo Bungy and Cliffhanger. At 47m, the bungy is the highest water touch bungy in New Zealand, allowing you to top off your jump with a refreshing dip in the clear, icy waters of the Waikato River. Jump solo or tandem, or combine with the swing experience for the ultimate adrenaline surge. The Cliffhanger swing takes away the nerve-wracking decision to leap, jettisoning you (and a friend) loose to freefall up to 70km/h through the air over the River. Enjoy spectacular views and a rush that will keep you exhilarated for the rest of the day.
Skydive in Taupo
If you need to go higher, Taupo is a brilliant place to hurl yourself out of a plane (parachute attached, of course). With Great Lake Taupo (New Zealand’s largest lake) glistening beneath you, the expanse of the Central Plateau stretching out and bordered by the ocean, and the snow-dusted mountains of the Tongariro National Park rising up to meet you, there will be plenty to appreciate as you let gravity do its thing until you pull the ripcord. Taupo Tandem Skydiving and Skydive Taupo offer competitive deals.
For those who prefer their action closer to the Earth’s surface, the Tongariro and Waikato Rivers provide rafting experiences for all levels. The sedate and serene Waikato River Float, with Rafting New Zealand, lets you glide the aqua waters as you learn of the local Maori stories, pass ancient volcanic cliffs and view the bungy and swing from the water. Tongariro River ramps it up, with grades two and three, while the Wairoa River delivers a thrilling grade five raft – not for the faint-hearted!
Stay nearby at the Quality Suites Huka Falls. This great value hotel offers free WiFi, an outdoor pool, laundry facilities, premium cable and a coffee maker in each room, plus a free full breakfast. Separate villas and units are spread over the estate, providing privacy, space and a comfortable place to relax, recharge and let your adrenalin levels rebalance after a hefty workout in Taupo.