The Taupo region is a major volcanic area that is famous for thermal features, ski fields, and New Zealand's biggest lake, Lake Taupo. The region is centered around this lake. The lake itself is an ideal place for swimming, boating, and trout fishing. Near the lake are two popular natural attractions, the powerful 'Huka Falls' and the eerie 'Craters of the Moon' volcanic reserve.
The main town in this region is also called Taupo. This town revolves around tourism and provides a wide variety of accomodation and services for travellers wanting to explore the region. Another reason for the town's popularity is its location to Auckland and Wellington. The town lies approximately half way between these two main cities making it a popular stopover.
Most New Zealanders are unaware that Lake Taupo is actually a huge crater of a super-volcano. In fact Taupo was once a mountain that was destroyed by eruptions. The the biggest volcanic eruption in world in the last 5000 years took place in Taupo. It was around the year 186 AD when a huge eruption measuring 7 on the explosivity index took place. This was just short of a super-volcanic eruption. Previous to that event, about 26,500 years ago, Lake Taupo had an eruption that was many hundreds of times bigger than the 186 AD eruption and has become known as the world's largest and most destructive volcanic event in Earth's last 70,000 years. This was a true super-volcanic event and measured 8 on the volcanic index. Today it is hard to believe, that such events took place as the lake is peaceful and serene and popular with tourists. If you look close enough today, you can see evidence of this violent past with clues like the abundance of pumice stones on the lake shore and steam rising out of the lake, which is obvious evidence that heat is still rising from the lake floor.
South of Lake Taupo lies the scenic Tongariro National Park. This park sits on a high plateau making it colder than usual for this latitude. Heavy snowfalls each the winter occur here and this supports a bustling ski industry on the slopes of the biggest volcano in the park called Mt Ruapehu. This volcano is the highest mountain in the North Island. This volcano as well as neigbouring Mt Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are all active volcanoes. Mt Ruapehu last erupted in 1996, while Mt Ngauruhoe last erupted in 1972.
The latter volcano was used as Mt Doom in the blockbuster trilogy, 'Lord of the Rings'.