Waihora Lagoon Walk: BEST Short Hike In Taupo

If you are in Taupo I highly recommend doing the Waihora Lagoon Walk during your visit. It may take a bit of effort to reach, but this is the perfect way to experience the incredible forest. In this guide, I will let you know why it’s worth visiting, how to get there, what you can do there, and more!


One of my favorite short walks in Taupo is the Waihora Lagoon Walk. Now when I say a short walk, I really mean it here.

You will find your drive to get here is actually longer than the walk itself. Though in saying that, you can just imagine how impressive and beautiful it must be.

Being someone who grew up in New Zealand, more specifically the town of Taupo, it wasn’t until quite a few years of living there that I found out about the incredible spot of Waihora Lagoon.

It was actually located only about a 15-minute drive from my house, though it isn’t a popular track for locals or tourists, mainly due to its isolated location.

Though if you have access to a car it is well worth visiting.

If you want to explore a mostly untouched piece of New Zealand forest this is somewhere I highly recommend visiting.

Located deep in the Pureora Forest Park this is an area commonly used by game hunters, not so much recreational walkers. So it is a great way to experience another, more untouched side of the country.

Though there are definitely some things you will want to know prior to visiting to make the most out of your experience, and this is where I come in.

In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about doing the Waihora Lagoon Walk. This includes how to get there, what to bring, what to do, where to stay, and more. Ultimately allowing you to make the most out of your trip and have an unforgettable experience!


Waihora Lagoon Walk From Taupo: BEST Tips For Visiting

a wide shot of the entire waihora lagoon, its well worth the 10 minute walk
a wide shot of the entire waihora lagoon, its well worth the 10 minute walk

Why Do The Waihora Lagoon Walk

If you are looking for a short and easy walk that offers stunning views of nature, you should consider doing the Waihora Lagoon Walk in Taupo.

It will take you to a small rain-fed lagoon surrounded by tall kahikatea and rimu trees, where you can enjoy the tranquil beauty of the water and the forest. This is a great place where you can check out a mature forest in New Zealand, and all the animals and plants which call it home.

The Waihora Lagoon Walk is located in the Pureora Forest Park, a rich and diverse area of native forest that is home to many rare and endangered species.

On the walk, you will follow a boardwalk that winds through the forest and leads you to a viewing platform, where you can relax and enjoy the view. The lagoon is a haven for birdlife, and you may hear or see some of the native species that live in the park, such as tui, bellbird, kereru, and kaka.

reflections on the lagoon of the surrounding trees // looking out to the still water
reflections on the lagoon of the surrounding trees // looking out to the still water
looking into the dense forest from the pathway to waihora lagoon
looking into the dense forest from the pathway to waihora lagoon

How To Get To The Waihora Lagoon Walk From Taupo

First of all, you should know that the Waihora Lagoon Walk is approximately a 30-minute drive from Central Taupo. Unfortunately, there is no public transport to get there so you will need your own vehicle.

It is possible to hitchhike, though it isn’t completely common to do so in the rural countryside, so you may find yourself waiting a while for a car to pass, especially one willing to pick you up and heading in the right direction.

This issue will mainly be heading past Kinloch and back in that direction from the Lagoon as it isn’t a super popular route to drive this way.

Your best bet will be to have your own car. Now the roads between Taupo and Kinloch and pretty decent and can be a rather busy drive.

Stopping in at Kinloch is a great way to break up the drive, whether you want to go for a drink at the famous Jack Nicholas Golf Course, or grab an ice cream from the lakefront dairy.

From Kinloch, you will truly be heading into the wops (slang in New Zealand for countryside). Continue along Whangamata Road until you reach the Toihoi turn off where you will read left.

It is then a quick 10 or so-minute drive to the turn-off point for the beginning of the Waihora Lagoon entry. Keep an eye out on the right-hand side of the road for the green doc sign pointing at the start, it pops up quite quickly after a corner.

Alternatively, you can follow Google Maps, you should have phone reception up until the final turn-off. https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3115.825645504081!2d175.70213097565104!3d-38.65288917177728!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x6d6b87ed48ddb1ff%3A0x95a3811490cd32b0!2sWaihora%20Lagoon!5e0!3m2!1sen!2snz!4v1690103837996!5m2!1sen!2snz

ferns lining the trail to waihora lagoon // its hard to tell where the trees begin and the water starts due to the reflection with still water
ferns lining the trail to waihora lagoon // its hard to tell where the trees begin and the water starts due to the reflection with still water

Getting From The Road To The Start Of The Waihora Lagoon Walk

The second step is to turn right onto Waihora Road, which is signposted for the Waihora Lagoon Walk and the Pureora Forest Park. Waihora Road is a gravel road that can be bumpy and muddy, especially after rainfall.

It is advisable to use a 4WD vehicle to drive on this road, as it may be unsuitable for low-clearance or two-wheel-drive vehicles.

Personally, I have driven it in my 1997 Honda CRV which is not a 4WD vehicle, and have had no issues. But if you do get stuck you do risk having no cell reception to call for help. If the weather has been pretty dry recently you should be fine.

Waihora Road is about three kilometers long and you will be passing through dense forest which is pretty impressive in itself. Keep following the signage to the Waihora Lagoon Walk until you find yourself at the carpark which is essentially just a patch of grass.

enjoying the peacefulness and scenery at waihora lagoon
enjoying the peacefulness and scenery at waihora lagoon

When To Visit Waihora Lagoon

The Waihora Lagoon Walk is a beautiful activity that can be enjoyed in any season. Though honestly, the best weather to do it is when there has been some rainfall.

This is because the lagoon is fed by rainwater, and when it is full, it creates a stunning mirror effect that reflects the tall kahikatea and rimu trees that surround it.

The water also attracts more birdlife, and you may see or hear some of the native species that live in the Pureora Forest Park.

However, you should avoid doing the walk when there is too much rain, as the water may rise over the boardwalk and make it impossible to access the viewing platform.

I once visited when it was overflowing and even though it is still beautiful, we could barely walk on the platform at all, leaving a minimal view of the lagoon just beyond the treeline. You could also have issues accessing the start of the start especially if you do not have a 4WD vehicle.

The walk is also more pleasant when the weather is mild and sunny, as it makes the forest and the lagoon more vibrant and inviting.

the raised pathway over the lagoon // depending on the time of near you way find the pathway on the waihora lagoon walk in under water due to high rainfall
the raised pathway over the lagoon // depending on the time of near you way find the pathway on the waihora lagoon walk in under water due to high rainfall
looking out over the incredibly still waters of waihora lagoon
looking out over the incredibly still waters of waihora lagoon

Wildlife On The Waihora Lagoon Walk

Along the Waihora Lagoon walk you may encounter some of the native birds and plants that make this forest their home. This is part of what makes this track so special as it honestly is a secret gem hidden away from the hustle and bustle.

Some of the birds you may see or hear include:

  • The kākā is a large brown parrot with a red underwing and a loud screech.
  • The kōkako is a blue-grey songbird with a black mask and a haunting call.
  • The tūī is a black bird with a white tuft on its throat and a complex and melodious song.
  • The kererū is a large green and purple pigeon that feeds on fruits and seeds.

Some of the plants you may admire include:

  • The kahikatea is New Zealand’s tallest native tree which can grow up to 60 meters high.
  • The rimu is a graceful conifer with drooping branches and red berries.
  • The pukatea is a swamp-dwelling tree with buttressed roots and white flowers.
  • The mānuka is a shrub with small white or pink flowers that produce honey.

The Waihora Lagoon Walk is a great way to experience the beauty and diversity of the Pureora Forest Park. You may even spot some rare or endangered species that are protected in this area. There are even kiwis in the area, though it is very very unlikely that you would spot one, even more so in daylight.

walking along the pathway to waihora lagoon // moss growing on the trees after rainfall
walking along the pathway to waihora lagoon // moss growing on the trees after rainfall
moss and small plants growing on a near tree in front of waihora lagoon
moss and small plants growing on a near tree in front of waihora lagoon

Where To Stay In Taupo?

If you want to wake up to the breathtaking views of Lake Taupo and the mountains beyond, then staying on the lakefront is a must. The lakefront area stretches from Acacia Bay in the west to Wharewaka in the east and offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences.

You can find luxury hotels, cozy motels, charming bed and breakfasts, spacious apartments, and holiday homes, all with easy access to the lake and its activities.

If you want to be close to the shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions of Taupo, then staying in the town center is a good option. The town center is located on the northern shore of the lake and has a vibrant and friendly atmosphere.

You can find everything you need within walking distance, from supermarkets and pharmacies to cafes and cinemas.

haka lodge

Haka Lodge

A hostel stay right in the town center. Dorms start at $26.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
finlay jacks backpackers

YHA Taupo Finlay Jacks Backpackers

A modern hostel in a great location. Prices for dorm beds start from $24.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
acacia lake view motel

Acacia Lake View Motel

Good choice for a private room just across from the lake. Prices start from $100.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
millennium resort

Millennium Hotel & Resort

The perfect lakefront stay in Taupo. Rooms here start from $115.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

Other Things To Do In Taupo

Taupo is a stunning destination in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, where you can enjoy the beauty of nature, the thrill of adventure, and the warmth of culture. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, a family-friendly holiday, or a bucket-list experience, Taupo has something for everyone. Here are some of the best things to do in Taupo that you don’t want to miss.

Boat Tours: One of the best ways to see Taupo is from the water, where you can admire the stunning scenery, discover hidden gems, and get up close to the iconic Maori Rock Carvings. You can choose from a variety of boat tours, from scenic cruises and coffee cruises to sailing and kayaking.

Adrenaline and Extreme Tours: If you’re looking for some adrenaline-pumping fun, Taupo has plenty of options for you. You can experience the ultimate thrill of skydiving over Lake Taupo, where you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the lake, the mountains, and the volcanoes.

You can also try bungy jumping, swing jumping, or cliffhangers at Taupo Bungy or Taupo Swing. Or you can take a jet boat ride to the spectacular Huka Falls, where you can feel the power and spray of the water.

Walking, Hiking, and Biking Trails: Taupo is a paradise for walkers, hikers, and bikers, with a range of trails to suit all levels and interests. You can explore the geothermal wonders of Craters of the Moon, where you can see steaming vents, bubbling mud pools, and colorful craters.

You can also hike to the top of Mount Tauhara, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Taupo and beyond. Or you can cycle along the Great Lake Trail, where you can experience the beauty and diversity of Lake Taupo’s western bays.

Hot Springs, Geysers, and Geothermal Attractions: Taupo is located in one of the most geothermally active regions in the world, where you can witness nature’s amazing creations. You can visit Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa, where you can soak in mineral-rich hot pools surrounded by silica terraces.

You can also visit Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park, where you can see geysers, hot springs, caves, and rare plants. Or you can visit Spa Thermal Park & Riverbank Recreational Reserve, where you can relax in natural hot spots along the Waikato River for free.


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If you are in Taupo I highly recommend doing the Waihora Lagoon Walk during your visit. It may take a bit of effort to reach, but this is the perfect way to experience the incredible forest. In this guide, I will let you know why it's worth visiting, how to get there, what you can do there, and more!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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