State Highway 1 : enjoying the road from Wellington to Taupo
The driving time is around 5 hours (385km). But why take it that fast? Read on to find out top attractions along State Highway 1.
Waikanae (60km from Wellington / 318km from Taupo)
This pretty town of around 10,000 is on the Kapiti coast with river and mountain backdrop. Good beach for swimming, surfing and beachcombing or visit the Nga Manu Sanctuary?- This 15ha bird sanctuary is an interesting place to visit with numerous species of birds, including pied stilts, kea, wood pigeons and parakeets. A 1.5km loop track leads walkers through a variety of habitats from scrubland to coastal forest. There is also a nocturnal house containing kiwi and tuatara, and some pleasant picnic spots. Located on Ngarara Road and open daily.
Waikanae River - the river winds its way from the township on SH1 to the sea and there is an easy grade, well-formed track that follows the riverbank, suitable for walking or biking. The track has lots of entry/exit points as well as river access points to safe swimming spots.
Otaki (86km from Wellington / 301km from Taupo)
Another Kapiti Coast town that also borders the Otaki River.
Attractions include Family Rafting with Captivate Adventures – Grade 2 river or try out their land adventures including ropes course and flying fox.
Levin (107km from Wellington / 281km from Taupo)
A town of approx 20,000 and gateway to the Manawatu region – the Tararua Ranges through to rugged Tasman beaches. Popular set-off point for hiking and fishing holidays. Just ten minutes from Waitarere Beach – wide, sandy beach surrounded by forest with walking and biking tracks.
Foxton (126km from Wellington / 262km from Taupo)
This small town has the neighbouring coastal settlement of Foxton Beach. Look out for the authentic, full size Dutch windmill. (Fully operating and open to the public).
Also home to historic sites and museums including the Flax Stripper Museum, Horse-drawn tram (operates weekends or by arrangement), Audio Visual and Trolley Bus museums as well as in/outdoor swimming pool.
Foxton Beach is popular with kitesurfers and paddleboarders and a great place for family activities. Wind Warrior hire paddleboards for the whole family – start off with a lesson and then stand up and paddle the calm and flat Manawatu Estuary.
Bulls (163km from Wellington / 224km from Taupo)
The Southern gateway to the Rangitikei District. They do play on their name – look for all the pun signs around the town, not to mention the giant bull.
Mangaweka (224km from Wellington / 163km from Taupo)
Tiny township of just over 200 people, close to the Rangiteki River and ideal base for a family rafting trip on easy Grade 2 water. The river is also popular for kayaking, fishing and swimming. As you enter the township look out for the elevated DC-3 aircraft which you can visit. Underneath is a café and the local rafting base.
Taihape (244km from Wellington / 143km from Taupo)
Known as Gumboot Capital of the World. Base for Gravity Canyon – operators of New Zealand’s highest bridge bungy jump (80m) Minimum age 10 / minimum weight 45kg. Also the Swing - Minimum age 10 / minimum weight 45kg, Flying Fox - Minimum age 10 / minimum weight 35kg and Hydrolift – minimum age 5.
Waiouru (273km from Wellington / 115km from Taupo)
Small town on the North Island Volcanic Plateau, 25km south east of Mount Ruapehu and base for the New Zealand Army. Main attraction is the National Army Museum – includes lots of interactive stuff and and all-terrain vehicle ride.
Turangi (336km from Wellington / 52km from Taupo)
Southern end of Lake Taupo and 40 minutes drive from Taupo, on the banks of the Tongariro River. Great base for exploring the nearby national parks, the Tongariro Crossing, hot pools, skiing.