With daylight saving starting today it means the Summer tourist season is about to start. (disregard photo from TRM of ice on sunny Mt. Pihanga and big dump of snow on central plateau on 9 September?) So you can see this is all about serious tourism stuff.
Tourism research advise TRM that forward-thinking ‘moteliers’ (like my mentor – SWMBO? – She Who Must Be Obeyed manages everything at TRM and elsewhere) need to respond more to prospective guests new hunger for local experiences by moving beyond their traditional motel brand marketing efforts… OK? We shall try. 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 jogging track?
Where can they buy locally made items they cant find anywhere else?
Motels need to concentrate on local and neighbourhood content.
So TRM’s response follows for your Summer holiday programme…
Each week the NZ Herald Travel Supplement on Tuesdays reviews a small town.
The last one one on Turangi was over three years ago. Now the tourist season has started 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 1970’s. The excavations for the Tongariro Power Development 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.
Under 3,000 and, strangely, still steadily falling. About 1970 it peaked at over 7,000 for the Tongariro Hydro Development but in 12 years since 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.
(That is all the Herald ever features so you need to know how Turangi measures up?) Very affordable! Last quarterly survey advised 33 sales at an average price of – wait for it… – $167,000 (compared to NZ average over $600,000). Turangi was the only regional town that fell (0.3%) last quarter. It is still over 20% below the 2007 peak.
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.
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 pools. More books have been written about trout fishing on the Tongariro than any other river in NZ.
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), 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:
Anyone local. Local fishing guides include Kenny Drummond, Shane French, Mike Hughes, Rob Henderson, Bryce Curle, Peter Wilton and several others “flying under the radar” (Hi Richard) – all very good – inquire at TRM… For boat fishing on Lake Otamangakau or Lake Taupo contact Michael Rowntree. For casting lessons – Carol Harwood.
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 built around the trout fishing on the Tongariro River – 8 motels, 8 cafes, various B&B’s and backpackers – offering something for everyone – from upmarket superior lodges to low cost camping ground.
Every Saturday at the Turangi Tavern? Festival at Easter features the many autumn colours from the mature deciduous trees that predominate through Turangi.
Best reason to stop:
The National Tongariro Trout Centre is hard to beat. It includes a trout fishing museum, underground viewing chamber to view trout in 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 the queue of 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 – recently refurbished, pleasant friendly family hotel atmosphere offers an excellent budget menu or for mid-day caffeine hits there are 8 other cafes.
Turangi Tavern cannot be beaten (i.e. Venison & cashew nut salad $19 !) and offers such extraordinary value.
Turangi Bakery’s pies are famous throughout NZ.
TRM inmates favourite choice is the Rafting NZ cafe. Also nearby is Creel Cafe, foodies heaven – healthy breakfasts and delicious finger food in an historic setting on Taupahi Road.
Best walk/jogging 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 – 15 km – 2 hours. Joggers can add the north loop to extend it to 20 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?). In the National Park we recommend the loop walk to the Taranaki Falls leading from behind the chateau at Whakapapa.
Lake Taupo – the largest most stunning lake in the North, South & West Islands erupted about 30,000 years ago on a Wednesday – best views from the lookout on the saddle – SH47 – about 6 km from Turangi or climb Mt. Tihia (1165m) or from the track above Motuoapa – 8km north of Turangi .
Best Mountain Biking:
Tongariro River Trail – Choice of routes from 3km to 13 km. Out of town is the Waihaha Bay loop on western side of Lake Taupo or south is Tree Trunk Gorge to Pillars of Hercules trail – Enquire about TRM’s own special track from there back to Turangi… It is secret so we cannot advertise it.
The feasibility study for an extraordinary new scenic tourist bike track – which will become the most popular bike ride in NZ – is being completed. The T2T – Taupo to Turangi – along the lake edge.
Best tourist hike:
Tongariro Alpine Crossing – it is so good that Taupo (50km North of Turangi) tried to claim it as well. It’s on everyone’s Bucket List. Warning – parking is worse than Auckland and it can get very crowded on fine summer weekends. TRM have three local loop tramps with no crowding and no parking or shuttle hassles.
A better more challenging alternative option away from the crowds is to climb Mt. Ruapehu in summer only. (Arrange a guide now with Tongariro River Motel.)
Rafting NZ 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..
There are numerous kids playgrounds – i.e. outside the indoor swimming pool in the town centre includes a skateboard park – but the best is still Lake Taupo for a natural beach playground.
Best Kept Secrets:
The lower Tongariro River – a world class trout fishing river – has the biggest Brown trout spawning area and nursery in NZ so Waikato Regional Council are excavating 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 Genesis wont let you see it. But wait – Genesis are trying to keep it as their secret caves of Mordor so we are still working on that one.
In 1970 the Turangi Museum attracted over 100,000 visitors to view the best collection of pre-maori artefacts in NZ. Now they are locked up so you can’t see them either.
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 become the most popular bike trail in NZ. Watch this space…
Tongariro river-side walk between Taupahi Reserve and Koura Street is better than Tamaki Drive or Oriental Parade – they don’t have trout swimming beside you.
For natural heated soothing therapeutic thermal pools go to Tokaanu 5 km west or Turangi indoor heated pool.
Best cultural experience:
Walk through Turangi’s mall past Sporting Life tackle shop towards the Art Gallery you will be surprised to see the wonderful Maori Weaving school in action – sometimes their beautiful finely crafted ethnic works are for sale. Then spend an hour admiring the art works in the gallery.
Turangi – a town with heart – dvd.
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 – 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 a season 20 years ago.
Best images to characterise Turangi:
(1) See photo on right – a Turangi traffic jam…
(2) See video below – a corporate box at the footy…