I played the Getting Lost Game with my three daughters to find a location for our holiday in the last week of Summer school holidays (you can get yours and start your adventure over here). After some random directions we ended up in Taupo. With no plans (not even a place to stay) we made it up as we went and found some amazing places to make it what we all agreed was an epic holiday. So if you’re looking for some recommendations of what to do with kids in Taupo read on…
#1. The Taupo sign
The Taupo sign is new since I’ve been to Taupo last and it’s actually a huge amount of fun as you figure out new poses. I wasn’t planning on being in the photo and was only wearing togs and a t-shirt so I was pretty glad that the letters hid the bits I didn’t want seen!
For the girls it was the opposite – they were posing in every possible way on top of and inside the giant letters.
It’s pretty popular so there are small queues to get your photo but everyone was really courteous to make sure that everyone else got their photo and were happy to offer their photography skills to others.
#2. The Bistro
This is in my top things to do in Taupo for adults too but it really is that good that it deserves to be in both lists.
As much as I love the food (and I rate it as some of the best I’ve ever had) I’m even more in love with their ethos – to make amazing food affordable for the average kiwi family.
I’ve only ever been with James before so it was a test taking the kids!
We got off to a good start as Kiki declares the bread bought to our table the best she had ever had in her life (and promptly ordered seconds) and they were confused and delighted in equal measure with their amuse bouche when it arrived unordered on the table.
They demolished their dinners (not the chicken nuggets you usually get on kids menus!) and mocktails and not one of them could get through their pudding.
Me, I was so fill on my delicious steak and handmade bag of chips with truffle mayo (you must try this!!!) that I couldn’t even attempt it.
And it was affordable and oh so good. We don’t often post restaurant reviews (and certainly not usually this long) but this place truly is special. It’s a Taupo Must Do!
#3. The Lake
This was the biggest surprise for me because normally I think of lakes as being a bit too chilly to swim in but Lake Taupo was definitely not cold.
Clear, warm waters that felt amazing on your skin, with a with smooth sandy bottom that undulated from ankle deep to chest deep and back again as you walked out from the shore.
We were in the lake at least 3 times a day, with the kids favourite time to swim being as the sun was setting.
You can read more about our love affair with the lake and our tips on the best place to swim over here.
#4. The Hilton
Me and the girls love a little bit of fancy and The Hilton is definitely that, but unfortunately it was out of our daily budget. So with a pack of crayons we held a bit of a budget meeting (you can read about how we put the kids in control of the budget over here) and got creative and figured if we left late at night on the last night we wouldn’t have to pay for accomodation that night and we could put our savings into a night at The Hilton.
At $340 for the four of us to stay including a buffet breakfast in the morning and a midday check out it actually pretty good value.
And with an Infinity pool (with pool side service), crisp white bath robes and slippers and luxury bathrooms it was most certainly very luxurious.
We went swimming so many times in the amazing pool and in the heat of the day we hid away in our room with the air conditioning going watching Pretty Woman & Legally Blonde and ordering room service.
And was it worth it? Totally! It was like playing a brilliant game where we were all rich and famous for a day.
As Kiki strolled along the tree lined path she calls back over her shoulder “Walk with purpose”. Apparently that’s what you do in these fancy spots…
We were a bit unsure about DeBretts in the midst of a heat wave but it was definitely worth it and I can happily report it as an all weather location.
The decor remains the same and waterfalls with hot water flowing directly into the pools add to the charm and the feeling that you’ve stumbled on something a little magic hidden in the valley.
And it’s not just hot pools either with 3 hydroslides perfect for racing, a water play area and a cooler play area.
#6. The Worlds Coolest McDonalds
This may seem like a slightly random one to throw in here but this was high on the kids list of must do’s.
Taupo McDonalds was voted not only the coolest McDonalds in NZ, but in the world. And we reckon it may just in fact be that with an actual plane forming part of the restaurant!
The plane, a Douglas DC3 aircraft, was built in 1943 and flew as a commercial aircraft as well as a top-dressing plane, before being decommissioned in 1984.
It’s definitely worth checking out…
#7. The Hole in One Golf
Unless you have a golf prodigy chances of them getting this hole in one on the water are fairly slim but it won’t stop them from having a lot of fun as they try.
We paid $15 for our balls and the team were on hand to give them some tips to perfect their swing and they loved it.
Every time I go to Taupo I discover a little more that I love about it and I can see why people just keep coming back over and over again. Hope our top 7 things in Taupo help you to do some amazing things there too…