New Zealand Road Trip Part 3: Napier & Taupo

Getting to Taupo

The inland drive from Havelock North to Taupo is approx. 2 hours.  We stopped off about 25 mins into the journey at the beautiful art deco town of Napier in Hawkes Bay.

What did we do in Napier?

After much of the city was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake, the town was rebuilt in beautiful art deco style.  My Lonely Planet had a 45 minute self guided walking tour which I decided to drag the kids on as I wanted to see the buildings.
Napier Art DecoIn reality it only took about half an hour to wander the streets of Napier and take in the buildings. The streets are filled with loads of great cafes, boutiques and buskers with a really nice seaside town vibe.
Napier town centre

We picked up fish’n’chip takeaway from Sharkys and headed towards the beach.
Napier BeachAfter devouring the fish’n’chips, we took the kids to a huge playground next to the beach.  The perfect place to burn off energy before the drive to Taupo.


Taupo is situated on the shore of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand – fancy that!  I am a huge geography geek so for anyone even remotely interested, Lake Taupo lives in a caldera created by a supervolcanic eruption.

Lake Taupo Poser

Lake Taupo Poser


Where did we stay?

The Cottage Mews Motel is a cute little place right on the lake’s shore.
Cottage Mews MotelWe stayed in cottage no.3 with a kitchen and double bedroom downstairs and a master bedroom and jacuzzi bath upstairs.  There is also an upstairs bedroom and a downstairs terrace with dining furniture.
Cottage Mews Bedroom
The motel has access straight onto the beach and also has every kids favourite – a trampoline!

What did we do?

  • No visit to Taupo is complete without a trip to Huka Falls, apparently the most visited natural attraction in New Zealand.  They are by no means Niagara but they are very pretty to look at.  If we’d been without the kids, I would have done one of the various walks in the area (1 to 2 hours) but we did a 5 minute walk to a second viewing point.
    Huka Falls
  • The Huka Prawn Farm is well worth a visit – who knew prawns can be so entertaining!  Allow 3 hours to take in the fun nature trail, a guided tour of the facility and to try your hand at prawn fishing.  The farm is also stroller friendly.
    Huka Prawn Farm - Prawn Fishing!
  • I was lured in by the sign to the ‘Craters of the Moon’ geothermal walk.  Basically an area with loads of steam escaping from the ground due to the hot water being withdrawn for the nearby power station. Unless I was there on a bad day, I would save your money, it sounds much more impressive than it is.

Where did we eat?

  • I highly recommend dinner at the Crooked Door gastropub.  The kids meals come with goodie bags and the most delicious icecream sundae and the adult food is truly delicious (try the lamb bites).
  • Lakefront breakfast of coffee & a muffin at the Sailing Centre, a 3 minute walk from the Cottage Mews Motel
    Taupo Sailing Centre
  • Light lunch at the Huka Prawn Farm. My two year old was melting down and my husband and four year old wanted to continue prawn fishing!  The food was actually pretty good (lots of prawn on the menu) and there’s a little play area indoors and a grassy area outdoors.


New Zealand Road Trip Part 1 – Wellington

New Zealand Road Trip Part 2 – Havelock North

Our Route

New Zealand North Island Road Trip

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