Yesterday TRM listed the first 10 of 50 (yes that is fifty!) reasons tourists visit Turangi and return again and again. The first ten reasons are always the easiest… Today we continue with the next 10 in no particular order…
11 – Lakes – Such a wide variety of beautiful mainly uninhabited bush lined natural volcanic lakes, from the largest lake in NZ – Lake Taupo – to tiny hidden lake – Lake Rotopounamu (Greenstone Lake) to Lake Kuratau or to privately owned lakes (Lake Rotoaira – see image on right) to trophy trout alpine lake – Lake Otamangakau. These may look over-full at maximum levels but that may also be because of displacement pressures caused by zillions of large trophy trout that inhabit these lakes waiting for anglers.
Have a squiz at TRM’s one minute “slide-show” of Lake O. – a man-made lake, or more of a large alpine puddle created at the exposed head-water swamp of the W(h?)anganui River as a hydro storage dam. This shallow lake has now developed into our trophy fishery. A magic place on a good day, a hell hole on a cold windy day.
In Tongariro National Park there are more – Tama Lakes are the main feature on the day trip from Whakapapa Village to the Waihohonu Hut off the Desert Road. There is even a summit lake on the top of Mt. Ruapehu. All scenic beauties with their own charm – they are so good that each could qualify as a tourist destination.
12 – Skiing – New Zealand’s largest ski field being totally redeveloped this season but you do not have to be a proficient skier for the new kids “Happy Valley” facilities and more learner ski runs and adjacent facilities, cafes, etc. than any other in the South Island. New enclosed high speed gondolas will replace the old chair lifts by next season. These will improve access to the upper slopes up to the Knoll Ridge cafe – 2020m elevation – even on windy days when the ski fields used to be closed off. An enjoyable refreshing memorable affordable relaxing family day out just a 40 minute drive from Turangi for photo images that last a life time.
13 – Cafes – Turangi has at least eight cafes at last count from the historical converted fishing tackle shop at Creel (photo on right) to modern purpose designed at Hydro to funky Cadillac Cafe next to the car park to the best coffee (according to TRM inmates) at RaftingNZ to the Mustard Seed in the car park to Bakehouse Cafe in the mall (try their potato top pies) to the Coffee Container on SH1 to several others all welcoming and waiting for you.
All that competition makes sure you will get good value wherever you dine.
14 – Beaches – Fine pumice beach on the edge of Lake Taupo, no tides, safe swimming, boating (easy to launch trailers) off the beach or in river mouths nearby, what more could you ask for? Yes, I know. OK – you can also watch and fish for huge savage trout chasing smelt into the shallow edges where they are so easy to cast to (except when I go there). The fresh clear lake water sourced from snow melt in Tongariro National Park and filtered through native bush and pumice via tributaries in the Kaimanawa National Park is almost becoming a rare commodity elsewhere.
How can you put a $$$ value on that?
15 – Pies – World famous pies from Turangi Bakery. Ask any fisho or tramper – they are so nutritious they will keep you going for the rest of the day. The pie shop opens at sparrow’s and have such a huge range they are know throughout the land. SWMBO likes plain mince but the local favourites have potato tops as favourites.
16 – Bike Trails – The Tongariro River Trail ticks all the boxes for a friendly tourist bike trail around the Tongariro River in a figure eight configuration over two swing bridges to provide a choice of 3 km loop with views over Lake Taupo to a 10 km loop up the river or combined at 13 km.
For biking nuts, a longer real challenging mountain bike trail takes 3 1/2 hours from Tree Trunk Gorge – route notes only available at TRM. Then there are more remote bike trails like the Timber trail = 84 km over two days with a wonderful new lodge now built for an overnight retreat. Or for a day trip it is hard to beat Waihaha Trail about 50 km from Turangi up SH32 on the western shores of Lake Taupo to include a beach trip as well as the view over Tieke Falls below – see video.
17 – Wild Blackberries – One of the best places in NZ to stroll along riverside trails and collect wild organically grown blackberries in season – the bucket will not be big enough so you may have to eat the overflow.
18 – Forests – Endless towering gigantic forests vary from natural forests with the full range of native species such as Rimu, Totara, Kahikatea and many others that SWMBO cannot identify to pine trees for miles. Some of these are hunters favourite spots so wear appropriate bright clothing.
19 – Sculpture – Look out where ever you go for fishy themed sculptures from main road giant anglers to garage roof anglers to fancy finials to fishy footpath, fishy letter boxes to giant flies to many more unique to Turangi – too numerous to list.
20 – Maori Heritage – Look out in the CBD for a very special shop (just past Sporting Life tackle shop) dedicated to weaving ancient Maori patterned arts and crafts with a team of devoted native weavers. If you ask ever so politely, certain items such as bags and shawls may be for sale. They are genuine cultural treasures. Even Rotorua cannot compete with the traditional skills on show in Turangi. It is reassuring to see the ancient skills being passed on down the generations.