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Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo - quite possibly the best place to swim in New Zealand

I feel like seasoned visitors to Taupo are going to think this is a crazy question but the question on our minds when we arrived in Taupo in the midst of 30 degree plus temperatures is can you swim at Lake Taupo?

Lakes are notorious for being freezing so they are not normally top of our list but during the recent heat wave the shores of Lake Taupo were filled with swimmers and the kids begged to go for a swim. I’m always one for a bit of crowd validation so I thought why not, let’s try it.

A lake that looks like a beach

The first thing that blew the kids away was that it wasn’t a beach. It had sand and waves and stretched out as far as you could see so how, they reasoned, was it not a beach.

Which brings us to the next amazing thing about Lake Taupo…

It’s a history and geography lesson wrapped into one

Our kids usually get bored hearing too much about history and the geography of places. But at Lake Taupo they wanted to know more and more.

The kids were fascinated that Lake Taupo was in fact a giant crater caused 1,800 years ago by the largest volcanic eruption in the last 5,000 years.

We had to google the size of it and found that it was the same size as Singapore and the biggest lake in NZ.

We looked at a map of NZ and saw how huge it was compared to our tiny country.

We marvelled at how deep it was in the middle (186 metres in case you are wondering).

And for Bella, who is a little bit worried about things that live in the sea (especially crabs), it was a haven from worrying about creatures. There are of course trout in Lake Taupo but she didn’t find that out until the end and by then she loved the lake so much I don’t think anything would have dissuaded her from swimming there.

It’s beyond amazing to swim in

The water at Lake Taupo is so clear that even when you are swimming in the deeper parts (I’m talking about 2 meters) you can see the bottom.

Maybe it was the heatwave talking but when we were there Lake Taupo was warmer than the ocean, which is so weird when looking straight ahead you can still see snow on the top of the mountain in front of you.

Lake Taupo

As we moved around we found little pockets of warm sand beneath our feet.

I guess it’s not surprising when the geothermal Hot Water Beach is just a few hundred metres down. It’s a little bay where hot water bubbles up from the ground and flows into the lake. The sand burns your feet and little hot water creeks flow freely. You can also dig your own hole and find hot water.

It does make you want to not think too deeply about what may be happening under the surface…

Undulating contours of the smooth sandy bottom take you from ankle deep to chest deep in a couple of steps and back again.

There’s no salt to sting your eyes, no sea lice to bite you and the water for some reason felt heavenly soft.

And there is a designated safe swimming areas with no boats allowed.

The best place and time to swim at Lake Taupo

The best place we found to swim in the lake was right in front of the Three Little Kiwi’s Gelato Cart.

Not surprisingly this usually meant we stopped for Gelato after swimming too!

Easy parking and toilets, when I googled the spot afterwards it was also tagged as warm water beach. I guess that explains why it was so nice and warm to swim at…

As for the best time. That’s easy – anytime! We swam first thing in the morning, right through to last thing in the night as the sun was setting behind us and it was magic every time.

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