If we could only do 3 things in Taupo (that wouldn’t break the bank because lets face it if we won Lotto the list may include Huka Lodge, floating behind a boat like the guy I captured in the picture above and this floating plane that James couldn’t stop ogling over the whole time we were down there)…
So the achievable for most budgets, awesome, amazing top 3 things you have to do in Taupo are..
#1 – The Bistro
A week later I am still blown away by how amazing this place is! Working in Advertising for 17 years I have had my share of amazing lunches and dinners at the best restaurants this country has to offer but this one is right up there with the best (in fact I’m still trying to think of a better meal I’ve had).
Unsurprisingly they come in top on Trip Adviser but to walk past it your may almost miss it. On the front window their slogan is simple but nice. I get it, the decor is simple but the food – so much more than nice – its incredible, amazing, delicious, scrumptious – all of those and more.
We had an amuse bouche courtesy of the kitchen, an entree to share, two mains (James pork belly he couldn’t even finish), desert to share and two drinks each and when the bill came to just $125 I almost fell over and added a bit more on as a tip for the fantastic waitresses because surely food this amazing can’t be this cheap (although if you head over to their website you will see that’s their mission – to make amazing food affordable for the average kiwi family). Tick!
If you have read my blog you will know we don’t rave about every restaurant we go to (in fact we have a policy to only comment on the ones we like) but this one is truly sensational.
I wish I had more photos but to be honest we were too busy eating!
You can check them out here – but really, just go there. From anywhere.
#2 – The Ernest Kemp Cocktail Cruise
We came across the Ernest Kemp on a google search to find a boat over to the Maori Rock Carvings and liked the look of the boat (who wouldn’t) and it ended up being a most inspired choice because the boat was all it promised and more.
We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful sunny day to head out on the lake so we sat out the back (best seats in the house I reckon) and quickly got chatting to the people around us – a couple from England, best friends from Germany and a couple from Wellington. I love that in the tourist spots meeting people from all around the globe and they usually have amazing places that they have discovered here too!
Now here’s where selecting the 5pm cocktail cruise becomes important – the wine flowed, the pizza seemed never ending and when it did finally end it was replaced by an antipasto platter. We were so full that there was no way we could fit in dinner after this. The staff matched the boat perfectly – friendly, relaxed and up for a bit of fun.
Despite it being the reason for the trip, by the time we got there I was not too fussed about the Maori Rock Carvings – although they are spectacular as you can see below – I had become much more interested in our amazing early evening boat ride.
Our skipper kept us up to date with all the local and historical information over the duration of our 2 hour cruise. Out on Lake Taupo is really where you see a different side of Taupo and I could really see why so many people holiday here.
There is a kind of a decadence combined with easy charm – from the groups of teens perched like sea birds on cliffs, waiting to swoop down on the blue waters below, to the lavish yachts filled with beautiful people, to the speedboats racing past at impossible speeds.
The Ernest Kemp was a brilliant experience and at $40 pp was superb value.
You can find out more about them here.
#3 – Reids Farm
Just off Huka Falls Road this idyllic spot offers free camping and picturesque spots for picnicing and swimming (be careful here as leading down to the Huka Falls there is quite a current).
Despite it being a hot, sunny Waitangi Weekend we were still able to find a spot where no one else was – make an awesome sandwich from our left over pork belly from The Bistro, have a swing in the hammock and go for a swim.
There are no filters in these photos – it really was that blue and green – amazing, and completely FREE!
Just a quick note that Reid’s Farm will be closed to overnight campers (only day access allowed) from 20 June – 30 September 2016 for remedial works.
So that is our top 3 things you have to do in Taupo. If you are looking for a place to stay while you are down there we can thoroughly recommend Chantilly’s Motor Lodge as a place to stay – it was close to town, comfortable, affordable, had friendly staff and looked great – what more can you ask for.
And for Breakfast – you can’t go past the $9 breakfast at Lake House (that’s James $9 brekkie on the right – I went for the slightly more expensive Eggs Benedict on the left). Located right on the lake front it gives you great access to all the goings on in the lake and is where I snapped the cover photo for this piece.