27 January 2020 – Lake Taupo, sun and sailing!

It was our first full day in Taupo and we’d again lucked out with the New Zealand Summer weather. It was shaping up to be another warm and sunny day. We started with breakfast at our Airbnb before heading into the main shopping area, just before 9am, for an explore in the sightly cooler temperatures.

Our Airbnb was only a 5 minute drive from the main shopping area, and the adults grabbed a take away coffee from one of the many popular cafes before we took a stroll along the boardwalk running along Lake Taupo. It’s a popular area with plenty of walkers, joggers, cyclists and other tourists.

In fact there were so many people out riding their bikes along the edge of the lake that we were seriously missing our bike time, it had been well over a week since we last rode! Stuck on foot power we wandered around the lake and checked out the sculptures and beautiful clear water.

There were plenty of parasailers out on the lake, which kept the kids amused. They weren’t impressed that we said no to them parasailing! We also got to see plenty of seaplanes land and take off, to the kids delight. There were also people hitting golf balls out onto pontoons, trying to win prizes for a hole in one. More interesting were the divers going in to fetch all the balls, but either way it kept us amused on our stroll around the lake.

After a lovely stroll it was back to the Airbnb for Zinnia’s morning nap, before our afternoon of sailing back on the lake. The big kids were more than happy for some downtime while their little sister slept and played some board games and the Airbnb arcade game they now loved.

Just before midday we drove down to the marina, ready for our 12.30 lunch cruise with Taupo Saling Adventures on ‘Sail Fearless’. It was a gorgeous day and there were plenty of boats, ducks and swans around to keep us amused as we waited for the boat to return from it’s morning sailing.

Some of the boats looked rather impressive (and expensive) but Zinnia was more impressed with the swans! Soon our ride arrived and we were pleased to learn that we were on a new and bigger boat ‘Kindred Spirit’ out on it’s second day of sailing. It was definitely shiny and new. We found a spot up on the top deck with the kids and waited for our fellow passengers (and lunch pizza) to board. Our kids were the only ones on board and other passengers were mostly a mix of Brit, American and French. I think we were the only Aussies, which surprised us given it was still school holidays.

Settled and ready to go the boat left the marina under motor power due to the utter lack of wind!

It was warm and sunny and the pizzas were cracked out in short order. The kids didn’t take long to get into their share and Zinnia was trying to eat her body weight in pizza. She was having a great time sitting up watching the the world go by, and was being pretty good at sitting still on my lap. Soren made himself at home eating pizza and sunning himself on the deck as we cruised along……

As we headed further away from the marina we got to see more of Taupo, with houses spread all along the edge of the lake, some rather large and impressive. We were informed that some of these areas were among the most expensive houses in New Zealand and a fair percentage of the All Blacks Rugby team had houses in this area..

Anto took Zinnia and the big kids down the back, slightly further away from the water where they could harvest more left over pizza and annoy the skipper as he motored us out towards the Maori carvings. All full of pizza we were enjoying the beautiful sunshine and constantly re-applying sunscreen so we didn’t burn to a crisp as it was very bright!

Soon we were approaching the Moari carvings. The giant rock carving is at Mine Bay and is only accessible from the water. There are various companies that sail out to the carvings and you can also kayak if you want a more energetic experience. We saw plenty of people out kayaking on such a lovely day but it was definitely more effort than sitting on a boat eating pizza!

Soon we came across a family of ducks. There was a mother and her 10 baby ducklings. They recognised the boat and swam alongside us for quite awhile, knowing they were going to get some pizza scraps. The kids enjoyed watching them swim around and the duck and ducklings certainly enjoyed the attention.

We did several passes of the carvings and you could get a great view from the boat. The main carving towers 14m above the lake and is of Ngatoroirangi, an ancestor of the traditional carver Matahi Brightwell who sculpted the artwork over 4 years, completing it in 1980. It is one of the North-islands biggest tourist attractions and hailed as one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary contemporary Maori artworks. Surrounding Ngatoroirangi are smaller sculptures. These carvings depict tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians) that are pivotal to the history of the local Maori tribe. 

We did several passes of the carvings and saw different bits of detail each time. Both the ducks and kayakers got a little closer but we certainly got some good views.

After we’d had our turn checking out the carvings, we moved a little distance away to let other boats and kayakers in for a look. We dropped an anchor and it was time for a swim for those who wanted to.

The water was a balmy 19 degrees apparently, so I figured I’d stay in the sunshine on deck, with Zinnia, who wouldn’t be impressed by those temperatures. Astrid, Soren and Anto were all keen. In they dived and had a little swim in the crystal clear water with the friendly ducklings, who thought they were going to land even more pizza!

Zinnia wasn’t impressed that I wasn’t letting her in but did happily watch her siblings and the ducks. Astrid and Anto went for a swim out to a small nearby island, mostly to stop themselves from freezing to death in the cool water.

Soon it was time to go and it didn’t take long for everyone to dry off in the warmth and sunshine on deck. It was definitely time for more sunscreen. Only us Aussies and the Kiwi skippers were keen on constantly reapplying sunscreen. All the European, Americans and British thought we were a bit nuts but we were watching them turn a bright shade of burnt as we sizzled under the Southern Hemisphere sun…..

As we were heading back into Taupo there was an attempt to put the sails up for at least a brief period. The kids did enjoy watching them go up, but with basically no wind we were essentially bobbing up and down on the spot…….. so it was decided that we would be travelling back under motor and we’d have to try another time for a little more actual ‘sailing’. We might not have been sailing but there was plenty of parasailing to keep us amused as we motored back to the marina.

After three hours of sunshine and fun we arrived back at the marina, having not lost any of the children overboard, and all having consumed more than enough pizza to power us through the day. It was definitely a fun experience, and we’d been blessed by gorgeous weather!

It was now 3.30pm and Zinnia was well and truly ready to nap. We were all hot and thirsty and we’d promised Soren a visit to the Taupo McDonald’s as the playground has it’s own DC3 plane. We wandered over, while Zinnia napped in the ergo, but unfortunately the playground was closed for cleaning so we had to make do with visiting the plane from the outside today.

Not to worry, with Zinnia still asleep in the ergo we walked towards a gelato shops we’d spied on our travels. Zinnia must have heard the mention of gelato and woke up just as we were ordering and was pretty excited when she opened her eyes and was surrounded by gelato. We settled on a lemon sorbet, and a speculoos and dark chocolate gelato. Once purchased it was over to the park for some sugary goodness. They were all pretty good but the dark chocolate was the best dark chocolate gelato we’d had since Rome! Those ones in Rome were amazing so that is saying something……

The gelato rounded out a warm but very fun day and it was back to the Airbnb for some time out of the sun. The big kids happily played the arcade game for the rest of the afternoon while we prepared a non-carbohydrate based dinner and planned our activities for our final day in Taupo.

Daily statistics…..

The temperature range for Monday the 27th of January 2020 in Taupo, New Zealand, was a very pleasant and very sunny 15 to 26 degrees. Another day of beautiful New Zealand summer weather.

Our total walking for the day was 6.6km. A few little strolls, and plenty of time out on the water of Lake Taupo.

Up next….

Our final full day in Taupo was spent checking out of few of the other water based local attractions – Huka Falls, Aratiatia Rapids, and the spa thermal park (another free geothermal swimming spot).

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