The 8.30am Scenic Cruise on Lake Taupō

Begin your day up close and personal with the Ngātoroirangi Māori carving, appreciating this incredible culture and craftsmanship in a relaxed setting. Enjoy our Daily 8.30 am Scenic Cruise of Māori Carvings on Lake Taupō.

Trip Highlights

A gentle cruise, picture perfect photo opportunities and on-board commentary.

What’s Provided

Educational commentary of the region, history and cultural significance of the Maori Rock carvings. Entertainment for the kids. Enjoy a complimentary muffin and hot beverage of your choice while on board.

Timing & Location

Departure: 5pm
Boarding:  4.45pm
Duration: 90 minutes
Our boat, the Cruise Cat, is moored at the Lake Taupō Marina and you will depart from Berth 4, Taupo Boat Harbour, on Redoubt Street.


  • The Cruise Cat is stroller friendly and has wheelchair access though not a disabled toilet on board.
  • The cruise goes ahead rain or shine, and will only be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.
  • Our guides speak English, but there is the option for commentary in many languages.

Tickets $49 per person

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Cruise And Plant Project Chris Jolly Updated

Every cruise raises funds to plant trees in our community.

Explore the Cruise & Plant initiative

Visit this world-famous artwork by cruise and marvel at its intricate details up close!

Lake Taupo Charter Levante Riviera 4000 Offshore Sedan Aerial View in Mine Bay at rock carvings

About our Māori Carvings Scenic Cruise

The Chris Jolly Scenic Cruise Takes place on board the 52 ft Catamaran boat that is also available for private charter. The whole trip takes an hour and a half and includes a complimentary muffin and a cuppa. This daily cruise leaves multiple times throughout the day. The boat is plenty spacious, with outdoor viewing platforms and indoor lounges.

While stopped at the destination of Mine Bay, the boat is maneuvered to allow for all guests to see the carvings up close, marvel at the intricacy, and get that swoon-worthy photograph.

The experience was enjoyable. The cruise ride was smooth, allowing ample time for capturing pictures at the Māori rock carvings. Additionally, complimentary coffee was provided, adding to the overall satisfaction.

– Yashasvi A

What to bring

  • Sunscreen and sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Warm layers
  • Boat friendly footwear

Visitor Information

  • The Chris Jolly staff are English speaking
  • There is nothing dangerous dwelling in the lake
  • No snakes, or poisonous insects
  • Our thin ozone layer means you can get sunburnt quickly

Take a cruise through Lake Taupō’s cultural history

History of the Māori Rock Carvings

The Ngātoroirangi story begins with Te Huatahi Susie Gilbert of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Susie asked her grandson, Matahi Whakataka Brightwell, to create a likeness of her ancestor Ngātoroirangi on a totara tree to create a permanent connection for her family to the land.  

When Matahi arrived in Taupō, there was no totara tree to carve, so he journeyed onto the lake for inspiration and found the rock alcove at Mine Bay. The alcove then became the canvas for one of the most extraordinary contemporary carvings in New Zealand. 

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The Legacy of our Ancestors

The main carving is a depiction of Ngātoroirangi, an esteemed tohunga (priest), whom laid claim to the land of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. This is surrounded by smaller sculptures depicting tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians).

Ngātoroirangi towers 14-metres above Lake Taupō and is regarded as a significant North Island tourist attraction. Ngātoroirangi is a true showpiece of New Zealand’s cultural artistic ability.

Maori rock carvings

Amazing staff and good trip. Good explanation regarding the trip, mountains and history. Good value and amazing views.

– Natilua

Lake Taupo Kayaking group maori rock carving mine bay Lake Taupo Ngātoroirangi Māori Rock Carvings

When you think of New Zealand’s most famous natural landmarks, what comes to mind?

You’d be hard pressed to choose a landmark that’s more famous, and more beautiful than Lake Taupō!

Formed by the most violent eruption of the last 5,000 years, Lake Taupō is a what remains of a caldera volcano. These days its a quiet moana, with beautiful crystal clear water, and home to introduced trout which give a great fishing opportunity. The pristine freshwater is ideal for swimming all year around (though we recommend a wet suit, or extreme bravery in winter).

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Taking the journey on the Chris Jolly Outdoors Cruise Cat to the Maori Rock Carvings is a truly magical way to experience Lake Taupō.

What We Offer

  • Private charter boats with catering/bar/fishing equipment and crew
  • Access to private land, water and know-how of local’s secret spaces
  • Functions, corporate events & team building

Reliable & Experienced

  • Over forty years in the central North Island tourism industry
  • We’re a family business, with local Taupō knowledge
  • Our staff are experienced adventure experts

Adventure Qualified

  • 5 Star Rated Gold Qualmark
  • Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guides
  • Trip Advisor’s Travellers Choice 2023
  • Partnered with Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Your Taupō Activity Partner

From beautiful lake views, to fishing crystal pools, to scenic hikes in the central North Island wilderness; Chris Jolly Outdoors are the go-to guides to tick off that bucket list.

In Taupō, the adventure possibilities are truly endless. We guarantee one thing – we’ll create a memorable experience for you that you’ll treasure forever.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I book a trip with Chris Jolly Outdoors?

You can book a trip with Chris Jolly Outdoors by either calling us on +64 7 378 0623, emailing us at or filling out the form to make an enquiry. If you want to book a cruise to the Māori Rock carvings, head over to the experience page to book direct.

When do I board my cruise?

Report to Berth 4 at least 15 minutes before your cruise departure time. We recommend being first in line to snag the best spots on the Cruise Cat!

Does Chris Jolly have activities suitable for kids?

Yes! We recommend the Māori Carving scenic cruise. We have activities onboard for kids and cosy indoor areas to chill out in. If you’re looking to book for a school group, our floating classroom experience cannot be misssed!

Can you swim in Lake Taupō?

Yes! From December through to March it is absolutely beautiful to get in to that fresh crystal clear water. We would advise a good quality wetsuit if you’re going to attempt it in winter!

How old are the Māori carvings?

The Ngātoroirangi carvings are over 40 years old. They were carved during the 1970s, taking four years to complete and finished in 1980.

How big are the Ngātoroirangi rock carvings?

The Ngātoroirangi rock carvings are a staggering 14 meters tall.

What are the small sculptures by the Māori Rock Carving?

The smaller sculptures surrounding Ngātoroirangi depict tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians) that are pivotal to the history of the local Māori tribe.

Is Lake Taupō a volcano?

Lake Taupō is a caldera volcano, formed approx 26,000 years ago. It erupted 29 times, with the last eruption about 1800 years ago. These days, Lake Taupō is the second largest freshwater lake in the southern hemisphere.

Is Lake Taupō fresh water or salt water?

Lake Taupō is a fresh water lake with excellent water quality, perfect for swimming, fishing and even drinking!

Who carved the Ngātoroirangi rock carvings?

Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and a team of carvers worked on the 14m high rock face to carve Ngātoroirangi.

Can kids drive the boat?

Yes! If you ask the skipper nicely.

What risks are involved in your activities?

All our activities include some level of risk. Your guides takes all practicable steps to ensure your safety, and with any activity in the outdoors you acknowledge an element of risk involved.

Scenic Cruise / Private Charters are operated on Lake Taupō, which is a deep and exposed body of water, with its inherent risks.

Mountain biking is an inherently dangerous sport.

Hiking in the outdoors is an inherently dangerous activity.

Fly Fishing is a water based activity, and that with water, risks are increased.

Please read our Disclosure document for a full list of potential risks.

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