Turangi, 50km southwest of Taupo, bills itself as the “Trout Fishing Capital of the World”; if that thought turns you on, this is the place to go. If you’re really, really into trout there’s even the Tongariro National Trout Centre nearby, a hatchery with a viewing chamber and picnic areas.
But if fishing on the Tongariro River is not your thing, Turangi doesn’t offer much else to attract backpackers. There are a couple of very good hostels, and it’s a quieter alternative to the touristy scene in Taupo; many of the activities in Taupo can be booked from here.
Turangi also makes a base for tackling the Tongariro Crossing or any of the other walks in Tongariro National Park. It’s less than an hour to the Whakapapa ski area on Mt Ruapehu. The Tokaanu Thermal Pools are five minutes away. Turangi is the midpoint between Auckland and Wellington.