Taupo - The perfect little town.
We have touched on Taupo before but we would really like to bring it to your attention just how wonderful and interesting our little town is. Taupo isn't large with a population of approx 26,000 but this swells dramatically in summer. Why? Taupo is the holiday town for the North island and a lot of people have holiday homes here plus we have hotels of every type so depending on your needs Taupo can accommodate you.
Now - shopping in Taupo! (Shopping is such fun) and you can't go past Jumpers Taupo. We are right on Tongariro street which is currently undergoing a transformation and will look amazing when done. But, aside from us, Taupo has specialty stores along all four streets of our main shopping precinct. People come from all over NZ to shop here because we are different, we are small independents and we are a pleasant shopping experience. You will find things here in one location that you won't find elsewhere in NZ. But truly you have to pop in and see us and take a look at the beautiful Merino and Possum Merino items we have!
What else is there to do in Taupo? Well, we have it all. We have the lake of course. The first time you see Lake Taupo is always a thrill. It is simply beautiful and so picturesque you need to stop and just take it all in. It is big too, it is the largest in New Zealand and is perched on the volcanic plateau of central North Island. It covers the remains of several volcanic craters, notably those of the dormant Taupo volcano in the northeastern portion of the lake. A series of eruptions at Taupō and other nearby volcanoes some 1,800 years ago created the large caldera (collapsed volcano) that the lake now occupies. It is filled with fresh water and it drains out of the lake to form the Waikato river which then flows north and supplies water to a lot of people in the North Island.
The best way to see the lake is on the water but what about above the water. Did I mention we have parasailing team? This is one of the most wonderful ways to see our lake and the mountains in the distance - floating above the water with just a dash of thrill thrown in.
What else do we have here? Our lake boasts some of the best trout fishing in the world! (Shhhh don't tell Gore or Turangi) Trout fishing in New Zealand is considered some of the best in the world and Taupo is part of that so we will claim that title. We had (pre-covid) international visitors from all over the world who would come every year to fish our lake and when you see the trout here you don't need to wonder why. The smile on this fisherman's face just says it all - a happy fisherman who doesn't need to lie.
On the lake there is a myriad of things to see and do and our most famous, after trout fishing, would be the Maori carvings. The giant Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo are hailed as one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary contemporary Maori artworks. Rising 14-metres above the water of Lake Taupo, artist Matahi Brightwell's carvings have become one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions. They are not accessible by road but we have numerous ways to see this amazing art work including several types of boats or if you are feeling fit try the kayak option and take yourself. If you are feeling romantic a sunset sail onboard one of our two sail options and make it a real trip to remember.
When you do go out to see the carvings make sure you don't miss the carvings on the sides, in my mind they are the best part.
If you are going to see lake Taupo the other option is of course to fly over it. Our local Taupo's Floatplane is amazing and takes you high above the lake and on clear days you can see the snow capped mountains in the distance and you can see the famous Huka falls, craters of the moon and so much more. This is a very special trip and the team are amazing at showing off our wonderful town.
Having mentioned Huka falls we have to go back to them because you cannot mention Taupo and not think of the Huka falls. They are not the highest nor the most powerful in the world but the colour and the surroundings makes this a must see. Plus Huka falls is free to see, you cannot say that about much these days and you rarely get to see something so awe inspiring for no cost. The water that drains from the lake is pushed down this narrow channel and then pours out over the end with a sound to thrill the saddest soul. There is no way to convey the majesty and wonder of this attraction and you must simply make your way to go and see these falls.
You can also, with a little organisation, have someone drop you off at the falls and then you can walk all the way through to Spa park or, if you are contrary, you can do it the other way. It is a 3km walk which, because this is NZ and we have bumps and hills, will take about 90 minutes. It runs alongside the river the whole way and is a fabulous walk. Now if you have walked from the Huka falls end you will find yourself coming out at the bottom of Spa park where you will find the Otumuheke Stream, also known as Hot Water Stream. This area was a historical meeting place for the local Maori and its relaxing hot waters have been enjoyed by thousands for many years. A natural hot water stream comes out here and pours into the Waikato river and people soak in the combined cold and hot waters. Relax in the warmth of the pools and just enjoy looking at the river running past. Need a soak? Well you cant go past this one.
Craters of the Moon - ever wanted to walk on the moon? Well you get pretty close here. Craters of the Moon is a geothermal walkway with Lunar Landscapes - Hence its name. The walk meanders through the natural thermal activity including bubbling craters, steam vents and colourful soils. Its smelly (Sulphur is an ..... interesting nasal assault) but this walk is quite unique and so worth an hour to wander slowly through this amazing landscape.
Now hands up anyone who wants to throw themselves off a very high cliff with nothing but a rubber band attached to their feet? Anyone? Oh come on, it sounds like such fun doesn't it? Well actually, speaking from experience here, it is! It truly and utterly is the most spine tingling, frightening, scary, terrifying jump of trust you will ever make and it is so so worth it. Taupo may not have been the first bungy but you can't beat us for the sheer beauty of the jump. Walk out onto the platform which is 47 metres above the water. You then sit and have a harness attached around your feet and get attached to the rubber band - well lots of rubber bands. Then you hop, sidle and shuffle to the edge where they do double and triple checks on you and then you .... freeze ..... take another look .... and jump. It is exhilarating! The water comes up really fast and you can even get dunked in the water if you so wish although with the river being decidedly cold in winter you may need to think about that very carefully. You will be walking on air for days afterwards with the sense of accomplishment and the powerful feeling that gives you.
What about a drive around the lake? You can drive right around the entire lake and it is such a nice day out. Put the roof down and go for it. The other side of the lake is so completely different than the town side and you get amazing views back across the lake from the western bays.
Are you into exercise at all? Taupo does cycle tracks that are so good they are famous. To name a few there is The Tongariro River Trail, Craters Mountain Bike Park, Great Lake Pathway (Lions Walk), Huka Trails and Waikato River Trails and the amazing Whakaipo to Kinloch trail which we are reliably informed is a must do. That is only just a tiny selection of the trails we have here for every level of fitness and experience we have it all. You won't regret it!
So have we sold you on Taupo yet? We have so much to offer in a small town and we are a friendly town too. Just ask us.
But as we said at the beginning you have to pop in and see us at Jumpers Taupo and try some of our Merino, Possum Merino and Alpaca jumpers plus we now have the Optimum range so come and see the beautiful cottons they have out currently.
A very special thank you this month to Todd Weeks Photos for the wonderful photography. Hard to find photos of sheep! Thanks Todd.