Destination Lake Taupo is famous for its natural beauty and the vast number of experiences on offer to its visitors.

Here at Le Chalet Suisse, we would like to ensure our guests get the most from their stay with us in Taupo, and as part of that we try to provide as much information and assistance on what to see and do during your time here.

The Region

Lake Taupo is situated at the geographic centre of New Zealand's North Island and has good road and air links to the rest of the country.

While the region is renowned as the trout fishing capital of the world, it is also a popular holiday spot and an ideal destination for fun, water sports, adventure and relaxation.

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake, where you can fish for trout, swim, water ski, boogy board, windsurf, sail or just cruise your worries away.

There are also plenty of attractions in Taupo to be incorporated into your holiday including the Craters of the Moon thermal area, mighty Huka Falls, spectacular Aratiatia Rapids and a variety of craft shops. The area is abundant with adventure activities from the extreme to the mild. Because Lake Taupo is approx 2500 feet above sea level many of New Zealand's elite athletes come to the area to train. Taupo is also host to the New Zealand Ironman Competition and is fast becoming the event centre of New Zealand.

Taupo township is nestled beside the lake allowing the many cafés and night spots to enjoy the expansive panoramic view over the lake to the mountains. In the evenings there is no shortage of bars, pubs and cafés providing entertainment until late.

Volcanic History

Compared with other parts of New Zealand the volcanic plateau on which Taupo lies, is very young. Around a million years ago immense pressures were forcing the North Island upward above the surrounding seas and the oldest of the central volcanoes, Tongariro, was beginning to form.

Maori Traditional History

Maori legend relates that the great priest Ngatoroirangi and a chief, Tia, arrived in the Arawa canoe that made landfall at Cape Runaway and their people settled in the Bay of Plenty.

Tia was the first to explore inland and came across the eastern side of Taupo. He noted that a formation of rock resembled his heavy cloak and hung the cloak, or taupo, on a post and claimed the area as Taupo nui a Tia, which means the Great Cloak of Tia.

Ngatoroirangi arrived soon after and headed further south to the then lifeless mountains. He climbed to the top of one of the peaks and was almost overcome by the terrible cold. He called upon his sisters overseas in the ancestral home of Hawaiki to send him heat for warmth. The fire gods answered the sister's prayers and the fire came, travelling under the sea and land. At the coast of New Zealand, the fire broke through the surface as volcanic or thermal activity and ran as a line through White Island, Rotorua, Taupo and down to the mountains which erupted as volcanoes.

The Tuwharetoa claims descent from Ngatoroirangi, the priest of the Arawa canoe, one of the great migration canoes. Te Heuheu Herea began the chiefly Te Heuheu line in the mid-18th century.

European Settlement

The first recorded European visitor was English trader Andrew Powers who was captured and brought to Taupo by Maori.

Taupo first entered the tourism trade in around 1845 when travellers crossed from Maketu on the east coast on their way to Wellington. The town itself was first surveyed in 1877 and divided into allotments, although 1869 is the year that is attributed as Taupo's founding.

Retail business began in Taupo in 1883 when Joseph Rickit and Robert Adams opened the first general store, followed by Joseph Crowther, a butcher. Brown trout arrived in 1885, released by Major David Scannell of the Armed Constabulary. Rainbow trout were released by Forestina and Malcolm Ross in 1898. By the 1900s word had spread and Lake Taupo was recording catches of 20 pounds and attracting more and more keen fishermen.