Kia Ora Turangi
With Easter approaching and Australian tourists about to plan their NZ holidays, it is time for a review to check out where Turangi ranks. Tourism research website blogs advise TRM that forward-thinking ‘moteliers’ (like SWMBO? She Who Must Be Obeyed is the manager of everything, including the weather, at TRM)) to respond more to prospective guests new hunger for local experiences by moving beyond their traditional motel brand marketing efforts.
i.e. What guests really want to know is:
What’s right outside your front door?
What can they walk to?
Where can they find the best local fare?
Where can they catch a good happy hour?
Where is the best bike track?
Where can they buy locally made items they won’t find anywhere else?
Motels need to concentrate on local and neighbourhood content.
So TRM’s response originally prepared two years ago still applies.
Each week the NZ Herald used to review a small town. Now the new post-Covid tourist rush is about to kick off, so today it is Turangi’s turn for their own updated version. This is the BIG one…
As Turangi has not been featured by the NZ Herald since 2013, Tongariro River Motel have prepared a completely unbiased (?) local version using the same format for tourists consideration…
An abbreviation of Turangitukua, a Maori leader who must have been a great fisherman. Their tribal land was “acquired” to develop Turangi township during the 1960’s. The town cost $16 Million to build. But more exciting were excavations for the Tongariro Power Development which unearthed 16 pre-Maori villages, 246 pre-Maori dwellings, artefacts carbon dated around 400 AD, etc. originally occupied by Moa Hunters, Fairy folk and Hobbits (SWMBO’s ancestors).
About 2900 and, strangely, still steadily falling. About 1970 it peaked at about 7-8-9000 for the Tongariro Hydro Development but in 12 years since the 2001 census, Turangi resident population fell 14% while the rest of NZ rose 11%. About 64% are permanent resident occupied homes with 36% holiday homes. Why is the resident population falling? Most property sales are for holiday homes as so many Kiwis continue to identify the delights of small-town NZ.
Where is it:
Half way to everywhere – located where SH 1 crosses the Tongariro River and surrounded by National Parks with dual world heritage status. Midway Wellington (320km) & Auckland (310km). Midway Napier & New Plymouth. Midway Hamilton and Palmerston North. Midway Tokoroa & Taihape. Midway Paradise and Heaven.
“Trout Fishing Capital of the World”. When the Taupo Council tried to relabel the town as “The Source of Great Lake Taupo” a Facebook appeared to “Save the Signs” to reflect the passion of locals for trout fishing. They have since removed the offending “source” sign to restore local pride. Then Toe-paw Council suggested promoting Turangi as the “Gateway to the National Park” but when that was criticised by SWMBO, they withdrew it.
Source of Pride:
Trout Fishing Capital of the World. Tongariro River is a world-renowned trout-fishing paradise offering wild fly fishing all year with over 50 named pools. More books have been written about trout fishing on the Tongariro than any other river in NZ. But when TRM erected signage to direct tourists to the Tongariro River the Toe-paw Council fined us. They don’t want tourists to know about Turangi’s best competitive advantage.
Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Wild trout. Trophy trout. Big trout, Huge Trout, Giant trout, More trout.
All TRM inmates plus others who loved Turangi since the 1920’s include American author Zane Grey (returned three times to write about it and tried to buy the river), Duchess of York (the Queen’s mother), Queen Elizabeth, President Jimmy Carter, film stars and many other celebrities – an incredible world-famous trout fishing reputation.
Best Fishing Guides
Most neighbours are fishing guides in Turangi. According to TRM inmates, the best fishing guides include Peter Wilton, Kenny Drummond, and several other low profile “flying under the radar” – all very good – inquire at TRM… For boat fishing on Lake Otamangakau or Lake Taupo contact Whiskery Mike. For casting lessons – ask anyone you see fishing on the river.
Best local website:
What a question – we are so embarrassed that you even had to ask? You are reading it (but sometimes you need to read between the lines…).
Tourist industry revolves around trout fishing on the Tongariro River with 8 motels, 8 cafes, various B&B’s and backpackers – offering something for everyone – from upmarket superior lodges to low-cost camping grounds.
About seven years ago there was an annual festival at Easter to feature the many autumn colours from the mature deciduous trees that predominate through Turangi. Now everyone just goes fishing instead.
Best reason to stop:
The National Tongariro Trout Centre is hard to beat. It includes a trout fishing museum, an underground viewing chamber to view trout in a spawning stream, and several times each year they hold a kids’ day – a guaranteed way to catch a trout in Turangi. Now they even farm trout for local iwi. Amazing…
Best place to take kids:
Turangi library or Tongariro Trout Centre (trout farming factory?) or hike around the (1 hour) loop track from the Koura Street swing bridge past famous fishing pools and up and over the hill providing wide views over Turangi and Lake Taupo beyond.
Stand on SH 1 road bridge and watch the action from any anglers in the “Troll Hole” perfecting their combat casting. This would easily be the most popular trout pool in NZ where they all catch trout. Great entertainment.
Best place for ‘happy hour’:
Turangi Tavern – a pleasant friendly family pub atmosphere offers an excellent budget menu or for mid-day caffeine hits there are 8 other cafes. Another “happy hour” favourite is in any of the TRM units after a good day fishing.
Turangi Tavern cannot be beaten for budget-savvy tourists and offers such extraordinary value. For the big night out the Hare & Copper restaurant on Grace Road is TRM’s guests favourite.
For a quick snack on the move, Turangi Bakery’s pies are famous throughout NZ.
Creel Cafe, foodies heaven – healthy breakfasts and delicious finger food on Taupahi Road, walking distance from TRM.
Best walk/jogging/biking track:
Tongariro River Trail loop north of Major Jones Pool bridge is 1 hour, loop trail south to Red Hut Bridge to return via the Trout Centre – 10 km – 2 hours. Joggers can add the north loop to extend it to 15 km.
Just out of town is the 2 hour circuit of a hidden Lake Rotopounamu (Greenstone Lake) winner of the NZ Herald’s readers’ favourite secret touristy place (or something like that?).
Lake Taupo – the largest most stunning lake in the North, South & West Islands erupted about 30,000 years ago on a Thursday – best views from the lookout on SH47 about 6 km from Turangi or from the lookout track above the Tongariro River or climb Mt. Tihia (1165m). .
Best Mountain Biking:
Tongariro River Trail is the best local trail. Out of town (about 50 km) is the Waihaha Bay loop on western side of Lake Taupo or south is Tree Trunk Gorge to Pillars of Hercules trail.
TRM have our spectacular longer 40+ km trail from Tree Trunk Gorge back to Turangi, confined for guests only, who need to collect the trail guide from reception. It would get too crowded if it was advertised wider on social media. Long after the track route is forgotten, the unique lunch stop will always be remembered…
Timber Trail is the most popular two-day ride with overnight accommodation at the half way point.
The feasibility study for an extraordinary new scenic bike track was completed in 2016 for the T2T – Taupo to Turangi – along the lake edge. Since then the council’s Turangi Economic Development Strategy report featured the T2T as the most important priority, as “transformational” to secure the future prosperity of Turangi. Then in the Strategic Transport Plan the Mayor confirmed it as the priority project. So Toe-paw ignored it. Watch this space…
Best tourist hike:
Tongariro Alpine Crossing – it is so popular that Taupo (50km North of Turangi) and National Park and Taumaranui and Ohakune all try to claim it as well. It’s on everyone’s Bucket List. Can get extremely crowded on fine weekends. A better more challenging alternative option away from the crowds is to climb Mt. Ruapehu in summer.
Tongariro River have trips for all ages – recommend the 2.5 hours 14 km Grade 3 over 50 rapids raft fishing trips down the Tongariro River.
Best place to pull over:
Stump Bay – about 5 km north of Turangi on SH 1 provides safe swimming in Lake Taupo – nature’s 100% pure playground.
Best Kids Playground:
Lake Taupo for a natural beach playground or locally outside the indoor heated swimming pool in the town centre includes a challenging skateboard park.
Best Kept Secrets:
Tongariro river-side walk between Taupahi Reserve and Koura Street is better than Tamaki Drive or Oriental Parade.
The lower Tongariro River has the biggest Brown trout spawning area and nursery in NZ so Waikato Regional Council used it for a gravel quarry. True!.
Turangi has hidden the only underground power station in the North Island just off SH 1 – a must-visit for tourists but it is still a secret as Genesis won’t let you see it. True!
In 1970 the Turangi Museum attracted over 250,000 visitors to view the best collection of pre-Maori artefacts in NZ. So Toe-paw closed it and the priceless artefacts are missing (?) so you can’t see them either. True!
A new tourist bike trail is being planned from Taupo to Turangi (T2T) that will knock the socks off any other in NZ. TRM predict it will quickly become the most popular bike trail in NZ. But Toe-paw is still keeping it a secret. Watch this space…
For natural heated soothing therapeutic thermal pools go to Tokaanu 5 km west or Turangi indoor heated pool.
The Breakfast Pool is the kids favourite during summer. The yacht club beach on Lake Taupo is about 5 km north on SH1.
Best cultural experience:
Tourists just stand outside the shopping mall for a local cultural experience. Admire the art works – all for sale by local artisans in the Art Gallery centrally located in the CBD mall. Every Saturday morning a popular market day is held in the mall.
Turangi – a town with heart – dvd.- now hard to find as a collector’s item. Rely on TRM’s reviews instead.
Trout, Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Wild trout, Trophy trout, Big trout, Huge trout, Giant trout, More trout…
Raiding parties of Tuis in Kowhai trees along the Tongariro River Trail are unforgettable in springtime.
Best Historic site:
Te Porere Redoubt – on SH47 – an 1870’s historic battle site where a Maori rebel Te Kooti built a medieval castle so the Government colonial troops could find him. Both won?
Best Garden Sculpture:
The biggest trout fly in the world on corner of Poto and Kokopu Streets overlooking the Tongariro River.
When can we book again?
I came to Turangi for the fishing season 25 years ago and stayed.
Best images to reflect life in Turangi:
(1) Above – a corporate box at the footy…
(2) Below – a Turangi traffic jam…