Taupo was our first true adventure. Off on our own, exploring parts of New Zealand I hadn't seen before or at least not for some time. I usually plan our little adventures in advance on Google Maps so I can work out different stopping points along the way. George loves travelling, but gets a bit ancy after sitting in the car for a while without getting out, so I usually try and plan a big walk first up to satisfy him for the rest of the car trip.
I had booked accommodation in Kinloch, which is just outside Taupo in a sleepy little spot that wasn't overrun with tourists, or many people at all in fact. Our accommodation was the perfect setup, a fenced backyard, comfy and homely and only a short walk to the local beach and convenience store. I'd booked for us to stay only two nights, although we could have easily stayed longer.
Day one we ventured off around 9am from Auckland, avoiding the workday traffic! I'd decided we would head straight to Karangahake Gorge, you can see our walk here on North Island Adventures as I've given it a post of its own as we've now been there twice.
Heading off from Karangahake I decided we would drive via Tirau and Tokoroa to get to our final destination. Finding spots along the way that seemed to be ok for dogs to be off-lead was a little challenging. I earmarked a park called Lake Moananui Reserve, located just off the main highway in Tokoroa. We arrived and it was starting to rain, but by that point George was ready for another run around and I could do with a stretch of the legs too. Theres a decent sized carpark here and after parking up we spotted a few other keen dog walkers out in the drizzle. George and a friendly Jack Russell had a great run around before the rain really started to set in and we all made a mad dash back to our cars.
We arrived in Kinloch shortly after, and settled into our home away from home. We went to explore the local area and sort some dinner for the evening. Our bach was just a minutes walk away from the beach, and while we waited for dinner we went and stretched our legs along the waterfront. Dinner was prepared by the local 'Kinloch Store' which is a one stop shop in the area.
Originally before heading to Kinloch on holiday, id researched the W2K walk which was the appeal to heading to the Taupo area. Unfortunately the weather on the days we were going to be there decided it wasn't going to play ball. Day Two was meant to be our walking the trail day, but it was forecast for thunderstorms and considering Georges aversion to thunder, and the thought of us getting lost in an unfamiliar area in a storm wasn't that appealing, we had to park that idea. We will aim to do it another time, if you're interested in it, heres a link with some details: http://www.greatlaketaupo.com/local-secrets/hiking-walking/walking-the-w2k-with-your-dogs/
I instead earmarked a couple of places I wanted to explore with George around Taupo, so after a short morning stroll along the waterfront of Kinloch and some breakfast, we headed into Taupo.
Our first stop with Spa Park - wow this is what you truly dream a dog park to be. It was beautiful, especially in the early morning when the thermal pools put on a amazing show with steam. It was magical, and looked like something out of Lord of the Rings! We ended up back here a few times, which wasn't my original intention, but it was just perfect and George really enjoyed it here too. There are wide open spaces for a proper run around, and also a pathway that loops around the dog area. Well worth a visit, and take a picnic and enjoy the scenery.
After exploring Spa Park and playing with a few of the local doggies, George and I were off to explore another park - Secombe Park. Based along the waterfront, I picked this one as a chance for George to have a swim as it was about lunchtime by the time we made it here. Its a beautiful spot, very quiet when we were there, just one other dog walker.
We headed back to Kinloch for the afternoon, thinking I could squeeze in one more walk before the thunderstorms hit (I could see it coming in over the bay), we headed out. All was well for the first 15 minutes, heading down to the water and then left to explore a part of one of the walkways and the local Kinloch area. Then all of a sudden the heavens opened and the thunder started. I was drenched, so was George and the poor little guy was horrified about being outside in thunder. At this point we were walking the streets of Kinloch, unfortunately lost thanks to the GPS deciding Kinloch didn't exist so wouldn't show me where we were. We wandered around in the pouring rain, at this point I was carrying George in an attempt to calm him - although it didn't really work! The relief on both of our faces when we actually made it back to the bach would have made a great photo!
Heading home today. I tend to be a real earlybird on holidays, which is the complete opposite when im home in my own bed! Another wander along the beachfront, to then return to the bach and pack up.
After such a good walk at Spa Park the day before, I decided we would head back there for a decent run around before making our way back home. I'd planned to stop at two places on the way home, Walter Scott Reserve and another spot in Huntly if I thought we needed it.
Jim Barnett Reserve was one I found mentioned on another dog walking website. It's located in the Waikato which is very scarce for dog walks that ive discovered because of most of the area being DOC land that you can't walk with dogs, even on lead. I thought this was possibly a rare gem we had found, and it made a change to be driving along the Waikato River rather than back the same way we had came.
Turns out Google Maps doesn't work very well in the back country! We made it to Jim Barnett, but then struggled to find our way home so headed in the general direction of North, and eventually made our way back to the main road. A word of warning about this reserve and why I haven't actually included it in the list of places visited below - its no longer dog friendly. When we arrived there were signs everywhere saying No Dogs so a place to be avoided now unless you don't have your four legged friend with you.
A stop in Huntly wasn't needed in the end, so we kept going and back to home to decide on what the next adventure would be.
Lake Moananui Reserve - Tokoroa
Spa Park - Taupo
Secombe Park - Taupo