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During the winter months, Steve lives in Whakapapa Village, at the base of the majestic Mt Ruapehu. His family join him on weekends. Friday nights are for reconnecting at the Tussock Bar and Restaurant. "The kids come up on Friday after school and we all head down to the local with the crew to have pizza. Workers, tourists, kids - everyone in together." The roaring open fire, wholesome mountain fare and friendly apres ski atmosphere make it a firm favourite.
After a restful night's sleep, there's a days skiing to be had for the family on Whakapapa Ski Area. New Zealand’s largest ski area boasts over 65 trails to discover, ranging from beginner and intermediate to extreme. For those new to snow, a trip to Happy Valley is a must. Here you can spend the day experiencing the best that a family winter holiday has to offer with ski and snowboard lessons, sledding, tossing snowballs and building snowmen! No trip to the mountain would be complete without a trip to New Zealand's highest Cafe, The Knoll Ridge Chalet, on the Sky Waka Gondola.
For some off-mountain fun, there are plenty of beautiful long and short walks in Tongariro National Park to explore. One of Steve's favourites is Taranaki Falls, a 1.5 hour loop walk from Whakapapa Village. "You walk out on the edge of lava flows and see different formations. There are awesome views of Mt Ruapehu and across to Mt Ngaruahoe, through changing volcanic landscape, from lava to beech forest to open rolling tussock. And of the course the waterfall. It’s a nice safe walk, even on a poor weather day."
Places of interest
Tussock Bar and Restaurant
Whakapapa Ski Area
Knoll Ridge Chalet - Whakapapa
Sky Waka, Mt Ruapehu
Steve spends his summer days in Taupo. After the heat of a warm day the family love to cool down in the Waikato River which flows past their home. Many locals enter the river with various flotation devices at Control Gates Bridge and float down to the natural hot pool at Otumuheke Stream in Spa Thermal Park. Guided kayaking trips are available along the same stretch. "The crystal clear waters of the river are ever changing. There's a really nice terraced area at Otumuheke Stream now with a coffee bar and changing area." says Steve.
"For those who are a little bit more adventurous, we've got an awesome network of mountain biking trails in and around Taupo. It's a really awesome activity and, like skiing, it's a family activity. One of my favourites that caters to everyone is the Huka Trails." explains Steve. This connected network of trails wind along the Waikato River and range from grade 1 to 3 depending on the section you choose. Highlights include some of the best viewing points of the aquamarine waters of the Waikato River, Huka Falls, stunning native bush sections, Aratiatia Dam, geothermal streams, native punga tree groves, a stand of giant Redwood trees and access to the river at various points for a cooling dip.
Back in Taupo town, Steve likes to grab his coffee from Streetwise Coffee and enjoy a bike ride with his kids along the lakefront Great Lake Pathway towards the popular Two Mile Bay Sailing Club. "They’ve really done some cool things with that place. 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. It's kind of quirky." Kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and sailing boats are available to rent and a floating pontoon is on hand for the kids to practice bombs off. Local musicians will often gather to jam together as sun goes down.
Places of interest
Two Mile Bay Sailing Club
Great Lake Pathway (Lion's Walk)
Spa Thermal Park
Kayak the Mighty Waikato River with Canoe & Kayak
Taupo Kayaking Adventures - Waikato River Float Tour