The Taupo township end of Lake Taupo is unmistakeably a gathering point for tourists especially for those interested in kayaking Lake Taupo. This doesn’t necessarily make it touristy in the negative sense of the word but the accumulation of people and the lively air make it difficult at times to truly experience the profound beauty of this place.
There are a wide range of companies and tours which take you out on the lake in a variety of forms. We eventually settled for a guided kayak trip with ‘Rapid Sensations’, booked through Taupo i-SITE, which would take in some Maori rock carvings only accessible from the water.
Although I am a surfer and water lover I am by no means a kayaker however that didn’t seem to matter here – young, old, fit, not-so-fit, first timers – all were catered for.
We were picked up from Taupo i-SITE by courtesy shuttle and driven to our lakeside launch point where we were given a few safety instructions. The kayaks were of the extremely stable and safe variety and also, as I was pleased to discover, double. This meant, should I tire at any point on our 3 hour kayak run, that hopefully the gentlemen in Chris would come to the fore and he could do all the ‘leg work’, while I sat back for a bit and just took in the views.
However, luckily for Chris, this was never needed. Although the tour lasts for 3 hours in total you are not paddling for that whole time – in fact a big chunk is taken up with a beach landing, slower cruising and chill time.
Not being a kayaker I didn’t know that these small vessels have a keep-dry compartment where you can safely stow your extra clothes, camera and drinking water. The extra clothes came in rather handy as it happened because in the course of the trip, despite the compulsory life jacket, I got completely soaked. Perhaps my stroke style wasn’t quite right.
The lake is incredibly clear once you get out there and we were additionally lucky to have a wind free, sunny day which helped to maximise our experience as we paddled, at most times, fairly close to the banks. Another thing which strikes you once you have left the bustle of Taupo behind is the peace and serenity which reigns. This is what we had signed up for.
The Maori rock carvings are not ancient as many people believe (myself included before the trip), in fact quite the opposite, created in the 1980s. However, they are still beautiful. As the intention of several boats, kayakers and even helicopter flights is to take in the carvings, once arrived there it can get a little busy with traffic. The noise of boat motors roaring up and away and helicopter rotors hovering overhead isn’t exactly conducive to a contemplative 5 minutes which is worth bearing in mind if like me, you hadn’t quite envisaged this scenario.
We set off again for a secluded and isolated part of the lake where we beached our kayaks and took a welcome rest. Swimming in the lake, although slightly on the chilly side, was beautiful and dives down were rewarded with surprisingly clear visibility. The picturesque beach was littered everywhere with pumice stone – a leftover tell-tale sign that this area is volcanic. On our exit from the lake we were greeted with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies – great timing!
We took a leisurely paddle back to our original launch site – somewhat slower than we had headed out – everyone in our group of 10 now starting to feel the muscle fatigue. Personally, I could hear the all-you-can-eat at Pizza Hut calling – my reward to myself for all this exertion.
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