New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo (also known as Taupo Moana), sits in the caldera of a volcano that began erupting about 300,000 years ago. It was formed by a collapse during the Oruanui super eruption about 26,500 years ago, which spurted 750 cu km of ash and pumice, making Krakatoa (8 cu km) look like a pimple.
The last major cataclysm was in AD 180, shooting enough ash into the atmosphere for ancient Romans and Chinese to record unusual skies. The area is still volcanically active and, like Rotorua, has fascinating thermal hot spots.
Today the 622-sq-km lake (about the size of Singapore) and its surrounding waterways attract fishing enthusiasts from around the world who visit to snag trophy trout. Positioned by the lake, both Taupo and Turangi are popular tourist centres. Taupo, in particular, has plenty of activities and facilities catering to families and independent travellers alike.