The 5 pm Scenic Cruise on Lake Taupō

End your day on a high note, up close and personal with the Ngātoroirangi Māori carving. Appreciate this incredible culture and craftsmanship in a relaxed, idyllic setting. Enjoy our Daily 5pm Scenic Cruise to Maori Carvings on Lake Taupō.

Trip Highlights

A late afternoon 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.

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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Take a scenic cruise on crystal clear Lake Taupō with the family today.

Tamamutu Rock Carving In Mine Bay Taupo

About our Māori Carvings Scenic Cruise

The Chris Jolly Scenic Cruise operates aboard a spacious 52ft Catamaran, which is also offered for private charters. Each cruise lasts for ninety minutes and features a free muffin and beverage. Departures occur several times daily. The vessel boasts ample space, including exterior viewing decks and comfortable indoor seating areas.

At Mine Bay, the boat is expertly positioned to provide all passengers with an excellent view of the carvings. Guests can admire the detailed artwork and capture stunning photographs.

It’s a fantastic cruise on a good day (weather). The crew were great. The “Skipper” was very knowledgeable and the boat was easy to get around.

– Maree

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

“This was an unbelievable experience! The crew on the boat were so informative, highly recommend”

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.

Taupo Two 264

We loved this trip. Guide was informative, carvings interesting and the lake gorgeous. Would definitely take visitors to NZ whenever in Taupo.

– Shona M

lake taupo from above and chris jolly boat

NZ’s Natural Beauty

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.

Will I need bug spray in Taupō?

Yes, we recommend insect repellant. Lake Taupō is prone to midges and mosquitos that near the lake’s edge, especially at dusk. Lake Taupō doesn’t have any dangerous insects, just pesky ones.

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