Now that it has been decided to change the name of National Park to Waimarino, if they want to maintain the pattern of replacing historic names, then “River Road” should be reinstated in the village of “Taupahi”? …
Above is Tongariro River Motel located on River Road in late 1950’s.
The recent proposal for another tourist town on the central plateau – to rebrand ‘National Park’ to ‘Waimarino’ – was controversial. TRM previously investigated a similar exercise to enhance the image of Turangi to improve the destination attractions for tourists. Today we look at a more simple street renaming exercise to identify, recover and acknowledge some lost local history.
SWMBO was reminded this week with another booking from an old Turangi identity who had been away for some time – in Australia. He had grown up in Turangi and knew exactly where TRM was, as when he was young it was the only motel in Turangi – on River Road.
Above is the original local shop on “River Road” which is now Units 1 & 2 in Tongariro River Motel.
Prospective guests have often referred to TRM’s address as River Road. Prior to the development of the new town of Turangi, west of SH1, it was known as River Road. “Taupahi” was originally the name for the small fishing settlement along the Tongariro River but was changed when the Ministry of Works renamed everything in the new town in the 1960’s. Back then the town was located in Ruapehu County and then ‘moved’ to Taupo County. It might also be an appropriate time for the Toe-Paw Council to acknowledge the suburb of Taupahi on the eastern side of SH1, distinct from Turangi. What do you think?
As the Taupo District Council and NZ Geographic Board consultants seem intent on reclaiming the original historic names everywhere else, this latest proposed recommended change – to revert Taupahi Road back to River Road – should be considered. If their genuine intentions are to accurately record lost history then logically River Road and the quaint fishing village suburb of Taupahi – as a separate identity from Turangi – should be reinstated. The NZGB secretariat is part of Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and provides the board with administrative and research assistance and advice.
i.e. Below is a real estate firm’s advertisement on an old map with their “River Road” address in Turangi!
On most occasions where names have been changed recently, the European or English version has been changed to concocted or historic Maori names. So for nearby residents who are predominantly of English or of European extraction, it would be refreshing to see a reversal of recent trends from Maori to English instead.
Ten years after changing Link Road to Piri Road at the entrance to TRM, the street naming confusion still continues.
For more on name changing to create NZ’s most outstanding visionary tourist promotional idea, go to: https://www.tongarirorivermotel.co.nz/rebranding…/
Traffic congestion during rush hour on River Road in Turangi
Following the above report is another recycled TRM blog that provides a different perspective on local history…
Thank you for the support received for TRM’s suggestion in the last blog – to rebrand Turangi with an English name designed to encourage tourist anglers and to reverse the recent trend in renaming streets, etc. to secure Turangi’s future. An update of a previous blog explains some of the difficulty and background of names around Turangi…
For almost one hundred years Turangi enjoyed an enviable famous reputation as the “Trout Fishing Capital of the World”. For a tourist destination brand, the message was clear and concise and proven to be very successful, but recently TDC (Taupo District Council) appeared determined to change it. Consider the evidence…
In a recent interview over the new co-governance system appointed for Turangi, the Mayor insisted on referring to Turangi as the “Gateway to the National Park”? Really? This was prior to the demise of RAL. It appeared Turangi’s revised new destination brand had already been decided?
Regular readers of TRM blogs will know this already but Council needs reminding. Turangi has been established and recognised worldwide as a trout fishing destination for over one hundred years.
The Tongariro River became world-famous in the early 1920’s after American writer Zane Grey raved about it in his book – Anglers Eldorado. Even earlier, from 1920, NZ’s Governor General, Lord Jellicoe, (Admiral of the Fleet) started a wonderful tradition for over forty years with most subsequent GG’s following up until Lord Cobham in 1960’s. The Government might have been paying for them all to congregate in Turangi every year to fly-fish for trophy trout in the Tongariro River. Their vice-regal patronage added considerable historic prestige to the quaint little village before the new town of Turangi was built in the 1960’s-70’s. Prior to that the smattering of holiday homes along Taupahi Road (also known then as River Road) was known as Taupahi. So why ignore history and change a successful image?
Then the “Royals” further enhanced the importance of trout fishing in Turangi. In 1927 the Queen’s mother fished the Tongariro River (Then known as the Duchess of York photo above – still remembered as the Duchess Pool where they built her holiday accommodation which was then transported to become the trout centre) followed by the Queen, followed by King Charles. They added even more status to Turangi’s claim as being the trout fishing capital of the world. No other NZ town could boast of such a pedigree of VIP tourists, so why would Taupo Council want to review it or change it?
Taupo must have been dismayed as the GG’s regularly stayed at Taylors Camp in Taupahi Road so often that several famous pools were named after them – Admiral’s Pool – named after Lord Jellicoe, Jellicoe Pool (another pool down the river – now inaccessible to the public), Jellicoe Point on Lake Taupo, Cobham Pool (at the confluence of Dan’s Creek, also down the river – also now inaccessible to the public.) Back then the anglers could drive to the delta! They added so much historic character to Turangi and established an enviable reputation as a trout fishing venue for over ninety years – it should never be ignored.
Historically, the new name of Turangi for the hydro town was already synonymous with trout fishing. After the new hydro town was developed in the 1970’s the new road signs confirmed the status – “Welcome to Turangi – The trout fishing Capital of the world”. This was so important as it established a unique identity and provided Turangi with a distinct competitive advantage, a point of difference in marketing terms, that no other tourist town in NZ could hope to match. So why would Taupo Council even dream of reviewing it?
When DGLT (Destination Great Lake Taupo is the Council’s tourist promotion team, more recently also known as “Love Taupo”) appointed an enthusiastic young General Manager from Christchurch, he was determined to leave his mark by redesigning and rebranding everything in Taupo region. The town’s entry signs were changed to “Welcome to Turangi, Source of the Lake”. (?) Turangi was not impressed. Fortunately for Turangi, these signs were eventually removed and he resigned.
To try to maintain the trout fishing reputation, to the delight of Turangi folk, a little loyal motel (who prefers to remain anonymous) re-erected the original sign “The trout fishing Capital of the world” on their SH1 corner – see 2010 photo. Taupo Council then removed it, promising to replace it with a new sign to include their new council logo.
After waiting for over a year, in 2015 the motel eventually erected its own new sign with the same wording – “Welcome to Turangi The trout fishing Capital of the world”. The very next day Taupo council fined them $300. Following that they fined TRM again, $750 for adding directional signage (see below – “TURN LEFT & TURN RIGHT”.) Taupo Council then removed the offensive (?) wording. Then TDC demanded $1500 (resource consent) for replacing and refreshing signs that had been in place for over fifty years – long before the council had been appointed to administer Turangi. How encouraging!
That should explain how Taupo council’s planning compliance department wallies deliberately went out of their way to encourage tourism in Turangi. Some suspicious locals imagined Taupo did not want Turangi to prosper.
After another new General Manager was appointed to DGLT, the Council held a special meeting to announce Turangi’s exciting new “destination image” – changed again to “Gateway to the National Park”. Many in Turangi were naturally curious about Taupo using their town to promote the Ruapehu region 100 km south. Then the council promotional signs heading into Turangi were changed from fishing or rafting to skiing – even in the middle of summer. What a surprise! Perhaps understandably, Taupo Council may have been trying to protect their ratepayers’ $ millions invested in Whakapapa ski field sky-waka development. It was considered a strange strategic tourism investment as the Whakapapa ski field is over 100 km – over 90 minutes drive time – south of Taupo.
The Ruapehu District must be still rejoicing at Taupo Council’s generosity and gullibility. Taupo ratepayers have been so generous, subsidising them to promote skiing in the Ruapehu District instead of trout fishing in the Taupo region. Then global warming arrived and the snow stayed away as the management went bust relying on Government handouts to survive in 2023 season.
But there was some good news. Soon after the new GM resigned to return to DOC, a new GM for DGLT, Jane Wilson was appointed. She had the perfect background experience to understand the importance of trout fishing in the region. She really is the best appointment for promoting Turangi as a tourist destination. Trout fishing had been ignored in Council’s tourist publicity for the previous 20-30 years. Since her involvement, trout fishing has been promoted much more. Turangi businesses are so grateful as the Taupo fishery managers – a Government Department known as DOC – had also failed to promote trout fishing – confirmed by the recent history of falling fishing licence sales.
Turangi is unquestionably primarily a “tourist town”. If you doubt this or need further evidence, look at the garden art around town. The trout fishing theme is everywhere – on houses, on footpaths, on fences, on letterboxes, big and small features on private properties, everyone embraces the trout fishing history. They display the very soul of Turangi – a proud tradition that Toe-paw Council has deliberately ignored.
It is remarkable for such a tiny village (with a resident population of around 3,000 and still steadily declining from its peak of about 8-9,000 during the Tongariro Hydro Scheme development), to provide ten motels, nearly 100 b&b’s (pre-covid), plus fishing lodges and backpackers accommodation and camping grounds to cater mainly to anglers needs. Despite the temporary setbacks during Covid – (i.e. pre-covid, Turangi had four fishing tackle shops, Taupo had two.) trout fishing tourism is still the most important industry for Turangi’s future prosperity. Jane Wilson understands the regional importance of Turangi promoted as the “The Trout Fishing Capital of the World”. Sadly, judging from the evidence above, it appears the council does not want to recognise or capitalise on Turangi’s historic competitive advantages. They still prefer Turangi to be marketed as the Gateway to another even more remote region also struggling to survive economically.
During this period of Council’s marketing confusion over the last 12 years, another exciting new tourist activity has emerged. Tourist recreational biking trails have developed throughout NZ. If they built new tracks extending either north or south of the existing anglers’ original access track, they might save Turangi. To compete effectively, any new bike trails need to offer a full day’s ride. Following the huge success of the Otago Rail Trail, every city, town and district developed bike trails for tourists. The Tongariro River Trail loop was developed when the 100-year-old anglers’ access tracks were linked up about twelve years ago, but it desperately needs to be extended further north to link with Taupo bike trails, or south to link with the Pillars of Hercules and Tree Trunk Gorge trails (also DOC-managed) to attract this new breed of modern biking tourists. Particularly since the introduction of e-bikes, the number of tourist bikers has increased significantly.
MBIE (Ministry of Everything) offered a $54 Million fund to discover any new innovative ideas or sustainable projects that need funding to attract more tourists. What could fit their requirements better than a new loop track south to extend the existing Tongariro River Trail by another 20 km? It has the win-win-win advantage and could qualify for three times the cost by appealing to three categories of tourists – anglers, bikers and trampers. If Taupo had some leadership and wanted to help Turangi to prosper, either DOC or Council (or both) should apply immediately.
The obvious inevitable tourist bike trail is to link Taupo and Turangi, following SH1, around the lake edge. The likely viability is a no-brainer. Taupo recognised the demand and commissioned a feasibility report (cost about $25,000 about seven years ago) on the T2T (Taupo to Turangi) trail and another report on the Economic Development Strategy for Turangi (cost $55,000 about six years ago). Their 2017 strategy report made clear recommendations for Turangi’s future survival. The first priority – described as “transformational” for Turangi’s future economic survival – was the T2T. Since then the T2T has been included in the Council Long Term Strategy report and in their application to be part of the next Great NZ Walking track – see brochure above.
Latest truck & trailer hiccup at Bulli Point closes SH1 again…
The T2T has received more publicity recently each time another truck & trailer bombs out at Bulli Point, increasing the need for a safer inland route to replace the narrow dangerous lake edge corners. It is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.
Another big rig misjudges the tight corner at Bulli Point in November 2022
Since the reports were published nothing more has been achieved. Yet Toepaw Council and MBIE (Ministry of Everything) helped fund other bike trails in remote locations over fifty km from Taupo – i.e. at Waihaha and Kawakawa Bay. They claimed these were “tourist” trails but they are far too remote for tourists to find them and too physically demanding as an easy-peasy tourist trail.
So Turangi missed out again. It is fundamental logic that any tourist bike trails need to extend from where the tourist accommodation is located – like the Tongariro River Trail, but Taupo Council missed that point.
So why does Taupo still insist on investigating another change from a proven historic winning destination brand? Very curious.
If you are still not convinced about the most important attraction to encourage tourists to visit and stay in Turangi, have a squiz at this nine year old brief TRM video…