The Best Things to do in Turangi (updated for 2021)
If you’re looking for things to do in Turangi, then look no further. We’ve been here for over 30 years and know the area better than anyone!
Here are the best Turangi activities – keep reading to learn more about each one.
- Raft the Tongariro River
- Walk the Tongariro Crossing
- Experience the thrill of E-Mountain Biking
- Ride the Tree Trunk Gorge
- Raft Fishing On the Tongariro
- Family Wilderness Experience
- Eat at Revive Cafe
- Play a round of Mini Golf
- Soak in the Hot Pools
- Private Tongariro Hunting Experience
- Visit the birthplace of the Haka
- Walk Around Lake Rotopounamu
- Swim in Lake Taupō
- Tokaanu Historic Wharf
1. Rafting on the Tongariro River
Without a doubt rafting is the absolute number one activity in Turangi.
Rafting the Tongariro is an underrated way to see the great outdoors in an unspoiled environment. The water is clear and super clean, and people come from all over the world to experience it.
The Tongariro river is absolutely stunning. There are rare blue ducks from the blue duck conservation project, chilling out by the river, as well as large trout all throughout the river. Either side of the river features lush, green bush on the sides for most of the river.
People also love rafting because they are not a passenger – they love getting stuck in and paddling the raft down the river (along with a guide of course)
There are options to suit everyone
For families with kids under 10, there are specific family rafting experiences, such as the family floats.
This is a safe and easy way to get started with rafting, that still has the excitement of rapids and white water.
There’s enough of a challenge for the kids, and while the parents will also have fun paddling down the river, they will also get a huge sense of pride in watching their kids tame the river.
For those over 10 years of age Grade 3 white water rafting is hugely popular with visitors from all over the Taupō region.
In fact if you’re in Taupō, this is the only place you can go white water rafting.
You’re on the water for around two to two and a half hours. There’s 60 Rapids over 13 kilometres, you’re going to drop 235 meters over that distance. Super fun!
For those over 65 who have not rafted before, our grade two experience is recommended. You need only minimal fitness and you don’t need any previous experience.
There are plenty of rapids, but nothing too extreme – a great adventure that’s safe and fun that will leave you with a huge smile on your face – and a great deal of personal satisfaction.
All equipment is provided when rafting – just bring togs and a towel.
If you’re not sure about rafting, then our guide has everything you need to know about rafting the Tongaririo River.
2. The Tongariro Crossing
The Tongariro Crossing – the walk of all walks is one of the most well known and popular walks in NZ, and with good reason – it is the very definition of stunning. People come from all over NZ and the world to do the Tongariro Crossing.
The walk became even more famous following the release of the Lord of the Rings films. This is because you’ll take in Mount Doom (better known as Mt Ngauruhoe) and the location of Mordor which was filmed in the area.
You’ll also be spoiled with stunning views of the Kaimanawas to the east, and Taranaki to the west.
The walk is 19km and takes around 6 hours for someone of average fitness.
One thing to note is that due to its popularity, it can get busy – really busy. So the best way to do the walk is to start early (and take lots of water).
By starting early you’ll also get most of the climbing done before the sun starts blazing down on you, as well as avoiding the crowds.
Be sure to take the right gear with you – LOTS of water, food and appropriate clothing (you’ll need sturdy boots)
The crossing can be impacted by the weather. So if you are thinking about coming to the region we suggest giving yourself two or three days in the district, in case the track is closed.
Unfortunately we meet people every year who miss out because the track was closed.
In the winter months (May – October) take extra care – you’ll likely encounter snow and ice and you should not attempt the walk if you don’t have appropriate experience or equipment. Instead we recommend finding a guided tour at this time of year.
That way you have a few more days to do the walk, and you can do any of the other activities on our list while you’re in the area.
3. Experience the thrill of E-Mountain Biking
Grab your mates and join Tongariro Wilderness Adventures for an unforgettable e-mountain biking adventure on their private land.
What’s great about this experience is you don’t even need your own bike – they have a fleet of high quality e-mountain bikes ready for you to use.
They also have their very own on-site lodge, complete with a roaring fireplace and stunning views, which you’ll fall in love with on this 2 day adventures.
Details are on their website and the video below perfectly represents what’s on offer.
4. Biking the Tree Trunk Gorge
While there are plenty of mountain bike trails in the Taupō region, the rides in Turangi are less well known, but they are just as good – and the Tree Trunk Gorge is no exception.
This is a truly fantastic bike ride. Tree Trunk Gorge was formed by eruptions from Lake Taupō and the pyroclastic flows coming down and all fusing together.
And then the rivers cut his way through. And then right up through to an old surveyed track that was pushed through to the Pillars of Hercules.
It’s quite a technical ride, so it’s not for everyone, but intermediate riders will be able to handle the Tree Trunk Gorge really easily, and will take around two hours to get through from start to finish.
Tongariro Mountain Bikes offer guided trips or bike hire only. Even better you can choose whether you use an ebike or a regular bike. They also offer shuttles for drop off and pick up.
It’s worth noting that cell phone coverage is patchy on the trail and you’ll get wet feet as there are a few river crossings.
Watch this video to get an overview of what the ride will be like.
5. Raft Fishing On the Tongariro
There are LOTS of trout in the Tongariro! Raft Fishing on the Tongariro is a unique way to catch them.
Raft fishing takes part in the same section as the Grade 3 rafting section, the grade three rafting section – and is an experience we’ve been offering for several years.
Instead of people paddling the raft down the river, we put oar frame on the raft.
And we actually row down the river so you don’t have to do anything – we do all the actual rafting. Your job is to simply catch the fish.
It’s a great way to spend the day, starting around eight and finishing around five in the afternoon. Everything’s provided, though often guests have their own fishing equipment with them.
And the dry fly fishing in the late summer months when the Cicadas are out is absolutely stunning. It is certainly one of the jewels in the crown of fishing in the central North Island and you should add this to your bucket list!
6. Family Wilderness Experience
The deer and sheep are the stars of this show on this family wilderness adventure that was created with kids in mind.
With their natural habitat, the animals roam around freely with not a single cage or fence to get in their way. And you can even feed them yourself while our guide is telling us more about how these animals live free lives!
All this happens at the game park at Tongariro Wildness Adventures’ private land. Trust us, the kids will absolutely love getting back to nature.
Bonus Tip: If you are going rafting, this is a great activity to do when your raft is finished.
7. Lunch at Revive Cafe
In the Turangi township, next to the supermarket, you’ll find the best foodie secret in town – Revive Cafe. The coffee is from Wellington and is not a bitter coffee – it’s actually quite sweet.
For lunch you’ve got to try out one of their their baked potatoes, which come in several different toppings.
They’ve got, bacon, mushrooms and onion, pulled pork, chilli con can, vegetarian and bbq chicken.
These are big spuds – around ⅓ of a kilogram, so they will keep you fuelled for the rest of the day!
And with a price tag of $6.50 they represent great value for money. Wash it down with a coffee and you’re good to go. Allow yourself as much time as you want!
After you’ve checked out Revive cafe, it’s time head next to . . . .
8. Mini Golf at Turangi Adventure Mini Golf
The Turangi mini golf course was designed by a local farmer in the region, and the course represents a tour around Tongariro National Park.
So there’s a rafting hole. There’s a hole for the army museum. There’s a hole for fishing and the ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa, and the Hillary centre. Check ’em all out for yourself when you’re visiting Turangi. 🙂
The Turangi mini golf course continually get rated as one of the top mini golf courses around the country.
Really, really good but often overlooked as they have no website, though they have lots of great reviews on Trip Advisor.
This is a ton of fun for adults and kids alike to chill out and have some fun. Allow 1 to 2 hours.
9. Hot Pools
Ok, time to relax and take a soak in one of the local hot pools.
The Tokaanu thermal pools have got private pools and a public pool and are open from eight till nine each day.
One of the neat things about going down there is that the stream that you cross via a bridge has got quite a lot of trout in it.
While you can’t fish there, it’s quite cool to watch the fish playing around – some people like to feed them -as they’ll often come up looking for food.
The private pools have the natural thermal water, and the public pool is heated through a heat exchanger.
This means in the private pools, you don’t want to put your head under. But in the public pool, because it’s heated through a heat exchanger, you can stick your head under, while you splash about.
The other thing at the Tokaanu hot pools is that there’s a wonderful thermal walk that takes about half an hour and you’ll see boiling mud and crystal clear hot pools.
You can’t swim in them, (they are way too hot). But the thermal walk around the Tokaanu hot pools is certainly one of the reasons to go to the Tokaanu hot pools.
10. Private Tongariro Hunting Experience
Just a short drive from Turangi, is 10,000 acres of private land, operated by Tongariro Wilderness Adventures, and there you can enjoy a fully guided hunt (meat or trophy)
Generally the hunts are an overnight experience, where you stay in the modern, off-grid lodge.
There’s nothing better after a day out hunting then sharing a few stories (and perhaps a quiet drink!) while sitting round the fire place before heading to bed in your private room.
Simply put, this is one of the best hunting experiences in the central North Island!
11. Birthplace of the Haka
The Ka Mate Haka, the Haka performed by the All Blacks, was in fact created just a stone’s throw away from Turangi. Opotaka is a historical Maori pa site (fortified village) where you can learn about the history of the Haka, see the remains of the Maori settlement, and get amazing views of Mt Tongariro across Lake Rotoaira.
12. Walk Around Lake Rotopounamu
Walk in the magnificent forest of Lake Rotopounamu to the sounds of birds and the views of this crater lake. Rotopounamu means “Lake Greenstone” in Maori and you’ll see why when you lay your eyes on the beautiful green hues of the water. The 2-hour loop walk around the lake takes you through forest to three beaches alongside the lake.
13. Swim in Lake Taupō
Take a swim in the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. The water in Lake Taupō is crystal-clear to a depth of 13 metres. You might think it’s cold, but we like to think of it as refreshing.
14. Tokaanu Historic Wharf
Tokaanu Historic Wharf is one of the hidden gems of the Taupō district. It’s a beautiful spot for fishing, a picnic or for a walk. The calm waters and stunning mountain background make for a great photos during the day or at night.
You may also be interested in . . .
Driving to Turangi – times and distances
White Water Rafting on the Tongariro – everything you need to know