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Published: April 11th 2016
I love Autumn in NZ - cool mornings and evenings with gorgeous days in between. Perfect weather for outdoor activities and great lighting for photography. Last week, I was very happy to get the opportunity to spend a couple of autumn days in one of NZ's best tourist spots - Taupo.
For me, everything I could possibly want to do or photograph in Taupo revolves around the lake. http://www.greatlaketaupo.com/
will give you all the information you need about what activities are available. However, my best travel tip, which applies to all of NZ, is to visit https://www.bookme.co.nz
before making any decisions as you will be surprised at the great deals you can get, especially last minute ones.
On this trip, I knew I had to get out on the water. There are plenty of ways you can do this but to really enjoy the tranquillity of the lake, have fantastic photo opportunities and the chance to make new friends from all over the world while knowing you are being adventurous, there is only one choice in my opinion - a sailing trip aboard the Barbary. http://www.sailbarbary.com/
Why do I say this? Well,
you get to experience the lake very differently when you are on a sailing ship, rather than inside a boat trying to take photos through a window. It is so quiet and there isn't any sense of being in a hurry or the feeling they just want to get tourists to their destination and back again as quickly as possible. Instead, there is a laid back feeling that makes you take a deep breath and relax. Most of this is due to the skipper, Sarah. She is brilliant and combines a dry sense of humour with a wealth of knowledge about the lake. Sharing knowledge without boring people or talking down to them can be tricky but she either had us laughing out loud or hanging onto every word so we could go home and share what we had learned with friends who probably have no interest in knowing any of this. Facts that are easy to remember are great!
One of the highlights of sailing on the Barbary is the stunning scenery. The lake is so beautiful and the mountains at the end are breath-taking. But...... yes, there is a but. I was smart and pre-booked
the tour two days before arriving in Taupo. Naturally I arrived at the dock on the first grey, damp, overcast day of the year! Mountains? What mountains? The scenery had vanished completely in the gloom. We could have been forgiven for thinking we were on the open sea as we couldn't see any land in the distance.
Did this spoil the tour? Okay, the photo ops basically vanished along with the scenery but ..... (yes, there is another but), it didn't matter. We managed to get some great shots when we got to the Maori Rock Carvings (http://www.livingheritage.org.nz/Schools-Stories/Places-of-significant-interest-in-Taupo/The-magnificant-Maori-rock-carvings) as our skipper made sure we had plenty of time there and let us view them from many different angles. Okay, we got a bit damp but..... so what? The skipper provided hot and cold drinks plus large weatherproof ponchos for those who needed them.
I had the advantage of being the only Kiwi on board and I have seen and photographed the mountains many times so not seeing them this time didn't matter. The others onboard had also been lucky enough to see them the day before or just after we docked as that was
when the weather decided to clear! Not having a great deal of scenery to photograph endlessly meant that everyone on board had the time, and inclination, to get to know each other. I had wonderful conversations with a couple from Switzerland, 2 young men from Argentina (1 who spoke English and 1 who didn't so had no idea what his companion was saying about him that made us laugh), a couple from Scotland and a young woman from Germany and they were just the ones at my end of the ship.
No-one left the ship disappointed. We had waved to tourists on what we viewed as lesser vessels designed for the less adventurous, told a group of young German tourists (in a variety of languages) to get off the rock carvings and show some respect, taken photos of everyone putting on their best Titanic performance and swapped FB details. Brilliant and something I would happily do again.
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