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Taupo is on the shores of Lake Taupo and has its own selection of geothermal areas but the lake itself gives more clues about the volcanic history of the area.
Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake and is the flooded caldera or collapsed volcano that last erupted in 181AD. It is the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history - the blood red sunsets that the eruption caused were noted in Chinese and Roman chronicles of the time.
The lake is peaceful now and offers relaxed cruising and some of the best trout fishing in New Zealand. The lake also feeds Huka Falls which is just north of town and is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in New Zealand, draining Lake Taupo into the Waikato River in a huge torrent of water.
South of the lake is one of the most scenically impressive locations in New Zealand. Tongariro National Park is home to three major volcanoes, Mounts Tongariro, Ngaurohoe and Ruapehu, and this dramatic volcanic landscape was used to create the kingdom of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Mount Ruapehu is the highest point on the North Island standing at 2,797m and is one of the most active volcanoes in New Zealand, last erupting in spectacular fashion in 1997.