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Fearless street art takes to Lake Taupō

Taupō’s annual street art festival is setting sail with the help of two brave boat owners and an innovative artist.

Date: 10 Oct 2022

Normally, the Graffiato: Taupō Street Art Festival festival is a land-based event that sees artwork appear on walls of the town’s buildings over Labour Weekend. This year, renowned New Zealand artist DSide will spray paint his design onto the charter yacht Fearless while 12 fellow artists spend three days transforming nine other Taupō locations.

Vessel owners Jess and Dave Nesbitt, who operate Taupō Sailing Adventures, are handing sole creative control to the man with the spray cans.

Taupo Sailing Adventures - Owners Dave and Jess
Photo: Joel McDowell

“It is totally up to the artist what goes on the side of the boat,” Jess says.

“We won’t know anything about it beforehand, but we do know his other artwork and really like it. He is very conscious of the environment and that’s very important to us.


“So, we trust what he does will be great.”

The duo has had plenty of practice at trusting things will work out. 

In 2020, Dave and Jess had barely finished renovating their larger, more luxurious yacht Kindred Spirit when Covid struck a serious blow to their tourism business. Since then, Fearless has been scorched by a marina fire that destroyed two neighbouring boats.

“She is mostly fixed now, and this artwork is definitely signalling a new start for us. It’s exciting, we’re really looking forward to getting her back in the water with her new look, whatever that might be.”

Fearless on sailing Lake Taupō

The 11m ketch will sit on land at Taupō Marina while it is painted. Visitors will be able to perch lakeside and watch Dside work on the boat between 22 and 24 October, or watch other artists bring vibrant conversation pieces to the streets.

Previous Graffiato practitioners have already added more than 85 murals to local laneways, alleyways and along walls in what is New Zealand’s longest-running annual street art festival. This year’s event delivers well-known names as well as emerging artists, to collectively transform everything from a library wall to commercial buildings and even a footpath.

Collect a copy of the Graffiato walking map at the  Taupō Museum or local cafés.

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