Lake Taupo is situated in the central North Island of New Zealand. It has a perimeter of approximately 193 kilometres, a deepest point of 186 metres and a surface area of 616 square kilometres. The fact that the lake is the largest fresh water lake in Australasia and sometimes advertised as the largest in the southern hemisphere and approximately the same size as Singapore, ensures its popularity. It is drained by the Waikato River, while its main tributaries are the Waitahanui River, the Tongariro River, and the Tauranga-Taupo River. It is a famous trout fishery with stocks of introduced brown trout and rainbow trout.
The lake lies in a caldera created following a huge volcanic eruption approximately 26,500 years ago. According to geological records, the volcano erupted 28 times in the last 27,000 years. The largest eruption ejected an estimated 1,170 cubic kilometres of material and caused several hundred square kilometres of surrounding land to collapse and form the caldera. The caldera later filled with water, eventually overflowing to cause a huge outwash flood.
Several later eruptions occurred over the millennia before the most recent major eruption, which occurred in 180 CE. known as the Hatepe eruption, it is believed to have ejected 100 cubic kilometres of material, of which 30 cubic kilometres was ejected in the space of a few minutes. This was one of the most violent eruptions in the last 5,000 years. The eruption column was twice as high as the eruption column from Mount St. Helens in 1980, and the ash turned the sky red over Rome and China. The eruption devastated much of the North Island and further expanded the lake. The area was uninhabited by humans at the time of the eruption, since New Zealand was not settled by the Māori until several centuries later at the earliest. Taupo's last known eruption occurred around 210 CE, with lava dome extrusion forming the Horomatangi Reefs, but that eruption was much smaller than the 180 CE eruption.The 180 eruption was one of the largest in recorded history. Any possible climatic effects of the eruption would have been concentrated on the southern hemisphere due to the southerly position of Lake Taupo.
Underwater hydrothermal activity continues near the Horomatangi vent and the volcano is currently considered to be dormant rather than extinct.
Tourism is a major business for the area, attracting over 1.2 million visitors per year and of course the best way to see this area is by taking a scenic flight in a helicopter. The busiest time is the high summer season around Christmas and New Year, however anytime is spectacular in and around Taupo.The lake area has a pleasant temperate climate. Maximum temperatures range from 24°C in January to 15°C in July, while the night temperatures range from 16°C in summer down to 5°C in winter.
The Lake Taupo region is heralded as the events capital of New Zealand. Taupo’s annual calendar of events include;
- International Ironman
- The Wattyl Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, with ten thousand riders completing the 160kms around Lake Taupo – the biggest of its type in the world.
- Oxfam Trailwalker where teams of four are given 36 hours to cover a 100km course showcasing some of the most beautiful and diverse country that the Lake Taupo Region has to offer.
HELiPRO offers a wide range of helicopter tours and scenic flights around the Taupo region, please click here for more information.