The gateway to the Western Bays is sitting pretty, writes Elisabeth Easther.

Where is it?

Kinloch is found on Lake Taupo's northern most cove known as Whangamata Bay, just 20km from Taupo's town centre.

Origin of name: From the Scottish Ceann Loch, Gaelic for head of the lake, renamed in part to differentiate it from Whangamata in the Bay of Plenty.

Population: 489 (2013 Census) and growing rapidly.


Town icons: The impressive row of Lombardy poplars along the lakefront, planted in 1957 by the Holyoake family.

Town motto: Kinloch: Gateway to the Western Bays

Old news: Originally a sheep station, Kinloch was laid out in 1962 by Keith Holyoake (who would later become Prime Minister) as a holiday village. The Holyoakes owned the land with the Gibbs family, subdividing a part of it into holiday beach resorts, with the initial sections sold in 1959 for just £550 each.

Seen and noted: The Kinloch Club golf course is a Jack Nicklaus signature course and is ranked number one in New Zealand, according to PGA NZ. Last year, stays at The Kinloch Club's lodge were included in the goodie bags at the Emmy Awards. As a result, some really famous people have been passing through, often delivered by helicopter, but Kinloch Lodge's lips are sealed. Although if your handicap's not too flash, there's a more relaxed 10-hole public golf course located in Kinloch village.

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Big business: Most people commute into Taupo for work and school, although there are a number of small local businesses that serve boating, fishing, mountain biking and tourism.

Sources of pride: Aside from the international golf course, the locals love that, even though Kinloch is growing, it still has a friendly village feel with a strong community spirit.

Town fiestas: The Kinloch Community Association organises the fireworks display at Guy Fawkes, the carols at Christmas and, each January, The Kinloch Plod, a family event that raises money for various local causes including the swimming pontoon that's put out over the swimming months. Each October the annual market day draws a huge crowd and there are also plenty of sporting events — Tri NZ international Tri-series passes through, as does the Kinloch off-road event plus there's the new Taupo Ultra Marathon coming later this year.

Here for a short time: Cross the bridge to make the most of the all-weather marina and boat ramp, grab an icecream or coffee from The Kinloch Store or just stroll along the beach.


Kids love: The beach, swimming to the pontoon, the rock-climbing areas and jumping from the cliff face at the far end of beach.

Adults love: Golf, indoor bowls and the craft and garden groups — this is a popular spot for retiring to. And because Kinloch is on the Great Lake Trail, there are super walking and mountain biking trails with a range of soft and serious options.

Best park: Kinloch Domain has tennis courts, a play area, and lots of space to run around.

Best playground: The lakefront playground has climbing frames, swings, seesaws and a barbecue, the playgrounds in the newer subdivisions are also fun.

Best walks: Whangamata Stream Track is quite flat and features a restored water wheel that the Holyoakes used to pump water with, it's also a spawning stream so you can see trout there which is rather exciting. Kids are welcome to bike this segment too. Or try the W2K track from Kinloch right around the headland, it's steep at the start and offers beautiful views across the lake and to the mountains, all the way to Whakaipo Bay. Also open to cyclists, the loop is about 14km and very popular with people on two wheels. Or head north into the Western Bays, for the K2K track to Kawakawa Bay.

Best view: Everywhere is gorgeous, especially at sunset and sunrise although, if you had to pick one spot, the headland loop on the W2K track is jaw dropping. Or drive to the top of the new subdivision, LochEagles, for amazing views across the lake, Kinloch and the golf course.

Best swim: Swim to the pontoon or take a boat to any number of little bays.

Nice arts: 3 Art Gallery, just outside Kinloch on Whangamata Rd features woodwork and groovy artworks that are created onsite. Or visit Jo Rankin at Studio 40 for contemporary abstracts, mainly in acrylics.

Top shop: The Kinloch Store serves takeaways, coffee and pizza, plus you can buy groceries, books about Kinloch, fishing licences, tackle, icecreams and bags of sweets. What more could you possibly want?

Cream of the coffee: The Tipsy is a great little restaurant, open during the day for coffee and great food, and also in the evenings for a la carte dining

Best food: The Kinloch Store and The Tipsy both do food all day and many people like to grab take out from one or other and enjoy their kai al fresco down on the lakefront. The International golf course has a public cafe in the original clubhouse building — just opened for lunch this is a lovely spot at the bottom of the golf course tucked away from road.

Wet your whistle: The Tipsy is the local watering hole, serving all manner of liquid libations.

Best mountain biking: The Kinloch Trails W2K and K2K are part of the national cycle way, Nga Haerenga and there are lots of ways you can enjoy the trails, from small portions to epic endeavours.

Best adventures: Aside from mountain biking or trail running there's also trout fishing, wake boarding, water skiing and rock climbing.

Wildlife: In the lakes and streams you'll find trout while above your head there's a healthy array of native bird life while mountain bikers sometimes spot wild pigs and deer on the trails — Kinloch is just so close to nature.

Safety warnings: Even when you're having fun, don't forget that the lake is cold and the weather can change suddenly — so use your common sense around water.

The verdict: You'll wish you'd the foresight to have bought a section in the 1950s, because you'd be sitting pretty today.