Chocolatefish Media owner Adele Thurlow shares the best things about her adopted home.
What's your favourite thing about living in Taupo?
We enjoy a small-town vibe with no traffic issues and easy parking interspersed by the buzz that comes with an influx of visitors during summer, long weekends and big events. (Taupo has twice won a "World Festival and Event City Award".)
You relocated from Auckland — would you recommend the move?
I'm tempted to say 'No, it's awful, don't come!' but I've been here nine years and the novelty of the lifestyle hasn't yet worn off. There is a real ease of work-life balance; I'm self-employed and work from home (or my favourite cafe) but others say it takes 15-20 minutes to get to work including dropping off children en route. We often take dinner down to the lake midweek and can do day trips to the mountain on a whim. Many people move here for the lifestyle so you'll find a high proportion of locals with very positive dispositions.
For anyone on holiday, or just passing through, what's the one thing they shouldn't miss?
Go lakeside. Either grab a takeaway coffee and inhale the view and fresh air, or stretch your legs on the Lions Walk — a 10km walking/cycling track from Taupo boat harbour to Five Mile Bay.
Where is a good place to stay?
I'm a sucker for luxury. Try Sacred Waters Apartments on the lakefront, The Point Villas at the exclusive Whakamoenga Point estate, or Dunalistair House bordering the prestigious Jack Nicklaus golf course in Kinloch — we hired this house for our wedding and I'd go back in a heart beat, minus the white dress and stress.
Where's the best place to get a coffee?
We're spoilt for choice. The Storehouse is where I like to get a morning brew and do a spot of work. Little Mint in one of the CBD alleyways has excellent coffee and feels quite Melbourne-esque.
Favourite place for brunch?
This my specialist subject and, again, we're spoilt for choice. Every dish at The Storehouse is delicious — my husband is hooked on the fried chicken waffles. L'arte is a destination café, gallery and sculpture garden and a must visit. Cafe Baku, with Italian styling and a lake view, is one to try if you're a regular visitor looking for an alternative.
What about dinner?
The Bistro. It's tucked away in an unlikely location — you won't stumble upon it if you wander into town looking for somewhere to dine but, hands down, it has the best food.
Where would you go for a few drinks?
Vine. Despite its large interior, it has a lounge bar atmosphere, 150-plus wines, craft beer and great cocktails.
What's the best time of year to visit?
There's never a bad time as the lake, mountains, hot pools and events have it covered.
Can you recommend any good walks/hikes in the area?
Huka Falls track is a good workout. Rangatira Point track follows the lake edge to Whakamoenga Point where you may have seen Dan Carter fly-fishing in an Air NZ television commercial.
Where are the best hot springs/hot pools?
The AC Baths is the best place to swim with kids. Without children, we go to Wairakei Terraces for its milky, mineral-laden thermal pools amid native gardens. For a completely natural al fresco soak, try the geothermal hot springs of Otumuheke Stream at Spa Park.
Where's your favourite place to take the kids?
The Intercity bus stop with a ticket to visit the grandparents. Failing that, the Lion Express train and playground at Tongariro South Domain, or the playground at Spa Park.
What would you recommend to do on a rainy day?
Visit Taupo Museum — it has an art gallery and the Ora Garden of Wellbeing, which won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show.
What's the best way to make the most of the lake?
Befriend somebody with a boat or take a boat cruise.
If visitors are looking for some local culture, where should they go?
Chris Jolly Outdoors has a summer "Kapa Haka Cruise", which includes a performance from the Tuhingamata Cultural Group and visits the Mine Bay Maori rock carvings.
Any other hidden secrets you can share?
There's a short bush walk to a glow worm cave in Acacia Bay. It runs between Brunette Place and Mapara Rd. The scenic chairlift at Whakapapa in summer is amazing.
Adele Thurlow is the owner of Chocolatefish Media.