My ties to this region go back generations, being of Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent. My grandmother grew up at the foot of the mountain where I now work. For my family, Taupō is our lifetime home and I dream of our children and their children being in this spot. And, of course, skiing on the mountain every winter. There is nowhere else I would rather be.
We are so lucky here in Taupō. As a small tourism town it has a great vibe. We always have events at the weekends and as locals we get to enjoy all the great things that draw people here, but it still manages to have that small-town feel. Living here I have the Waikato River on the doorstep, the lake in our backyard and the mountain on the horizon just a little over an hour's drive away. With bushwalks and lake and riverside trails for biking, it really is a bloody awesome place.
Another great thing about Taupō is that we have things to keep us busy all-year round. In the warmer months, you get freshwater swimming in the lake or river, our mountain biking is great any time of year, and in winter we are an easy drive to Mt Ruapehu for epic skiing and snowboarding at New Zealand's largest ski area.
For people visiting Taupō with only half a day to spend, I would recommend getting out on the bike and riding the Spa Park-Huka falls loop. You get great views of the crystal-clear water of the Waikato. You can stop off at Spa Park for a swim in the geothermal Otumuheke Stream. You can grab a coffee or an icecream at the Lil Something container cafe. And it also takes you right to the viewing platforms to watch all that water flow over the Huka Falls.
Another place I always recommend is a stop into the 2 Mile Bay Sailing Club. They've really done some cool things here. It's literally one of the only places in the country where you can have water lapping at your feet while you enjoy a beer and pizza. Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and sailing boats are available to rent and a floating pontoon is on hand for the kids to practise their bombs. Local musicians will often gather here for a jam as the sun goes down.
Steve Manunui is the area manager at Whakapapa - Mt Ruapehu. mtruapehu.com