The Central North Island region of New Zealand features the Lake Taupo area and the mountain volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, all situated on a volcanic plateau in the middle of the North Island. The lake, famed for its trout fishing and boating, fills the caldera of one of the largest super-volcanoes in the world, in a still active geological region.
The southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone is in the central North Island. From there it extends northwards through Rotorua and out beyond White Island in the Bay of Plenty. About 26,000 years ago, Lake Taupo was a volcano that erupted in an enormous explosion that ejected about 800 cubic kilometres of material and spread it over the central North Island, forming the Volcanic Plateau. The resulting hole in the ground became Lake Taupo after it filled with water draining off the surrounding hills. It last erupted about 1,800 years ago.
Today, Lake Taupo feeds the Waikato River with the water to run eight hydroelectric power stations.
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The Northern Explorer train passes through the central North Island on its way to Auckland (northbound train) and Wellington (southbound train).
The scenery is the main sight in this region, but there are a few indoor attractions:
- 1 Ohakune Railway Museum, Ohakune. A small volunteer run exhibition, with a slightly random collection of railway equipment.
- 2 National Army Museum, Waiouru (about 30km east of Ohakune), ☎ . 9AM-4:30PM daily, closed Dec 25.
- 3 Lake Taupo Museum and Art Gallery, Taupo, ☎ . A small museum, containing exhibits on the Maori, volcanic and early European history of Taupo. The "Ora" garden which won the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show can be seen in a specially created outside area.
- Tramp (walk) the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a spectacular alpine day walk, or spend 3-4 days walking the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
- Taupo is a major centre for adventure activities including tramping, jetboating, sailing, bungy jumping and skydiving.
- Ohakune is a major centre for skiing and snowboarding.
- North to Bay of Plenty
- Northeast to East Coast
- East to Hawke's Bay
- South to Manawatu
- Southwest to Whanganui
- West to Waikato