Taupo (pronounced [toe-pawː] in Māori) is a town on the shore of Lake Taupo in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand. It is the seat of the Taupo District Council and lies in the southern Waikato Region.
Taupo has a population of 22,000 (June 2008 estimate). In 1953, Taupo was officially constituted as a borough, but from 1989 it has been administered by the Taupo District Council, the district including both Taupo itself and the surrounding hinterland. Despite this, it is occasionally referred to as a city.
The name Taupo comes from Māori Taupō-nui-a-Tia. Literally translated, it means "The great cloak of Tia" where Tia is the name of the discoverer of the lake.
Taupo is located at the outlet of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, in the north-east corner of the lake where it discharges the Waikato River.
The river flows over one of New Zealand's most spectacular waterfalls, Huka Falls, a short distance north of the town. Taupo is a centre of volcanic and geothermal activity and hot springs suitable for bathing are located at several places in the vicinity. The volcanic mountain of Mount Tauhara lies 6 kilometres (4 mi) to the east.
Taupo is situated on a stretch of State Highway 1, running concurrenly with State Highway 5. It is situated 53km North of Turangi. It is one of the few centres in New Zealand that were never linked to the rail network.
Taupo's neighbourhoods include Wharewaka, Nukuhau, Richmond Heights, Mount View, Acacia Bay, Rainbow Point, Tauhara, Hilltop, Gradwell, Taupo CBD, Five Mile Bay, Wairakei and Waitahanui.
The small but growing satellite town of Kinloch, where a Jack Nicklaus golf resort is being constructed, is 20 kilometres west along the lake.
Taupo is a tourist centre, particularly in the summer, as it offers panoramic views over the lake and to the volcanic mountains of Tongariro National Park to the south. It offers a number of tourist activities including sky diving, jet boating and paragliding.
Taupo services a number of surrounding plantation pine forests including Kaingaroa Forest, the largest manmade forest in the world, and related industry. A large sawmill is sited approximated 3km to the north east of the town on Centennial Drive.
The Wairakei geothermal power station is a few kilometres north of the town.