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A golden moment as the sun sets down behind the pine tress across the road. Have to giggle to my self a little as my partner walks in while I’m editing “where are those trees?” and I have to wonder whether it’s easier to explain, or just pull the curtain and point.

Karioitahi Beach

Feels like it’s going to be another amazing summer in NZ. Out at a wicked black sand west coast beach today. Stunning

TCC – Labour Weekend Race Meeting – Round 1 IRC Summer Series of Racing

Sitting up on the bank at Taupo’s Motorsport park with amazing views of the back and pit straights there is nowhere I’d rather be. The weather is holding out, the racing is fast paced and the photography opportunities are awesome. I’m surprised at the number of people here, especially as this event is competing for Taupo’s attention with the Dressage Championship, Erupt Lake Taupo’s Graffiato festival and Kinloch’s Market.

Kids cruise down behind the pit garages on retro scooters and skateboards. The Steaming Bean coffee cart has a huge line and everywhere I look I see motor sport fans enjoying themselves as that unique mix, the smell of petrol fumes and hot rubber fills the air.

This weekend features a variety of classes including the Porsche Racing NZ Championship, Vortex Racewear Formula First Championship, Super Mini Challenge and the Pre 65 Racing Saloons. I’ve got to admit I love watching the Formula First Championship. It’s a really tight class with rookie drivers fighting it out on track for a chance at a career in motor sport. This is where it all starts out.

It’s not just about Labour Weekend though. Taupo Motorsport Park hosts a variety of events including Powercruise and the BNT V8 Supertourers, they have days dedicated to drifting and MotoTT events as well as public and private track hire.

For more information check out: www.tauporacetrack.co.nzImage

Free things – Napier/Hastings/Havelock North

I’m going to jump right into this one:

  1. Art Deco Weekend – usually in February, this event has so many free ‘must do’s’ I don’t even know where to start
  2. Marine Parade 
  3. You can’t beat Te Mata Peak on a fine days for views over the Hawkes Bay
  4. Hastings Farmers Market is held every Sunday and is simply amazing. 
  5. Visit the Tom Parker Fountain (on the Marine Parade) after dark.
  6.  

    Balls Clearing – Patoka – Pack a picnic, drive out into the countryside and enjoy this podocarp forest

  7. Botanical gardens
  8. Bluff hill look out has awesome views try to be here for sunrise or sunset
  9. Bluff hill cemetery – possibly a little morbid but a brilliant historical cemetery  
  10. Ahuriri Estuary – a brilliant walk for bird watching. Recommend going at low tide so you can take in the southern side of the estuary too
  11. On the Marine Parade you also have the Sound Shell, the Sunken Gardens and the clock tower as well as the paved path to walk along the beach
  12. Napier has an Urban Street Market on Saturdays
  13. Both Napier and Hastings have a large number of Art Deco and Art Nouveaux style buildings (You can buy a map of these from the I-site on the Marine Parade or with a little research plan your own route for free) 

Bonus: Drive out to Puketitiri and into the Kaweka Ranges and enjoy a soak in the Mohaka hot springs (*technically not within my definitions but as Napier is the closest town I’m breaking the rules)

I feel like I’ve left out something important. Any suggestions, feel free to comment…

Free things – Taupo

On a roll from yesterday’s travel tips – exploring a new city – post (here:https://jgardnerblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/travel-tips-exploring-a-new-city/) I’m going ahead and jotting down free things to see and do in Taupo, New Zealand. Hopefully there will be many more of these to follow…

Definitions: Quickly refining the rules. In my head free is no entry fee… Things like fuel and supplies are dismissed into the maelstrom because if I have to think about them I’ll have to start admitting to just how much of my money gets sucked into my travelling and adventure experiences. Also, Taupo includes activities within a 100km radius. Just because I can.

Here we go:

  1. Huka Falls – the biggest waterfall in NZ https://jgardnerblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/above-the-falls/
  2. Lake Taupo – take a half day and drive around the lake
  3. Tongariro National Park – the three volcanoes at the far end of Lake Taupo. Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngaruahoe.
  4. Watch the Aratiatia Dam open and fill the narrow rocky gorge below Lake Aratiatia
  5. Taupo’s Botanical Gardens include  85 acres of native trees and plants
  6. Walk through the rose garden and down to the old armed constabulary site on the edge of the Waikato River
  7. Scented Garden for the blind – this small garden sits on the edge of the town centre and provides a refreshing break
  8. The historic site at Opepe (15min drive from Taupo’s town centre) is a good way to get some fresh air and an insight into the lives of Taupo’s early settlers.
  9. Spa Park Hot Springs – a river of warm water perfect for a good soak
  10. Kerosene Creek – 45 minutes from Taupo but another great place to find a free hot water swim
  11. Butchers Pool – on Butchers farmland (nothing scary) this pool has wooden seating around the edges and facilities for changing
  12. There is another little known hot spring on the road to Taupo. A concrete pool catches water from a hot water spring near the Tarawera Tavern on the Napier Taupo Road.
  13. Lions Walk – from Taupo’s town centre to Wharewaka Point follow the lake and soak up the views on this paved track
  14. Climb Mt Tauhara – a stunning trek through native bush with amazing views from the top
  15. Visit the Pureora National Park for a great range of bush walks from under an hour to full day hikes
  16. Huka Falls/Aratiatia Walk – from Spa Park via the Huka Falls to Lake Aratiatia and the rapids
  17. W2K mountain bike track – brilliant MTB track from Whakaipo Bay to Kinloch
  18. Spa Park Pump Track – short sharp pump track at Spa Park
  19. Taupo’s Skatepark – pro designed outdoor facility
  20. Taupo Honey Hive – free NZ honey and fruit liquor tastings with a great play area for children
  21. Swim – chill out in Lake Taupo or warm up in one of the small geothermal creeks that run into the lake
  22. Galleries – spend a half day checking out our local galleries – highly recommend Wildwood Gallery, Larte, Lava Glass
  23. Taupo market – Saturdays from 10am to 1pm with a car boot sale the first Saturday of the month
  24. Art in the Park – Also on Saturdays this market features work from local artists
  25. Top 10 Mountain Bike tracks from http://www.greatlaketaupo.com/new-zealand/Bike_trails/
    1. Craters of the Moon

    2. Great Lake Trail

    3. Waikato River Trails

    4. The Timber Trail

    5. 42nd Traverse

    6. Tree Trunk Gorge

    7. Tongariro River Trail

    8. Te Iringa

    9. Rotary Ride – Aratiatia / Huka Falls Trail

    10. The Great Lake Walkway / Lion’s Walk

I can definitely see myself updating this as more ideas come to hand. I’ve also got a few good ideas for an “Under $20pp” list so stay posted…

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