“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing” – Camille Pissarro
It occurred to me just last week that I was living the dream. Not everybody’s dream, but my dream. I’m still dirt poor and my diet consists of nothing more than baked oats, baked potatoes & baked beans. But all I wanted when I left the UK was to find a place that felt a little less heavy & to be able to find a little contentment and peace – I’m a hopeless romantic & want my life to be as poetic as possible, what can I say? I’ve been living in Taupo, a little gem in the central plateau of the North island of New Zealand, for just under three months now & I think I’ve found that place. I LOVE it here and I LOVE my life here. Which is strange because I literally do nothing, but after such a hectic year prior to leaving home, I think the easy, simple life was just what my little soul was searching for.
Living and working in the same place might sound like the closest any law-abiding citizen could get to experiencing imprisonment, but that’s just not the case in my little haven. Oh, Finlay Jack’s. My room is literally 7 seconds from the office where I work on reception – I know this because I have snoozed my alarm for opening up at 8am far too many times. I will literally never be able to find another job that beats that commute in my lifetime. When I applied for the job back in February, it was aptly listed as ‘Front of house & everything else’ which filled my heart with soooo much joy because we all know nothing kills your spirit quite like the monotony of repeating the same day over & over & over again. Variety is the spice of life and nothing says variety quite like cleaning human excrement out of drains one minute & delivering a sassy-hot-blonde-receptionist service with a smile the next. (Don’t worry, gloves are compulsory & my nursey momma served me up some impeccable hand-washing skills as a child). So I literally do everything, the good, the bad & the ugly – but somehow it all feels good because there is no pressure, we work in such a chilled out environment AND my uniform of choice consists of yoga pants & baggy jumpers – winner. This is hailed the ‘best job in Taupo’ and I think those who say that might just be right. I literally couldn’t think of a better travel job and I’ll be so sad to go back to the world of normal jobs when I leave at the end of July. Cry, cry.
Hostel-living is just as sweet as hostel-working. I love the easiness of living in a hostel so much that I’m even considering opening my own in my corner of the world & living forever more as a hostel b*tch. The best part is that I don’t pay a single bill, my weekly rent is essentially taken out of my pay before I even receive it & that includes everything from the ‘needs’ like electricity and laundry to the ‘wants’ like a Netflix subscription for all the best Sunday night chick flicks and our very own hostel therapet, Biggie. Having said that, not all hostels operate on the same wavelength, Finlay Jack’s is in a league of it’s own and before I was even inveigled enough to have a biased opinion, I had this penned as the ‘best hostel in New Zealand’.
I may spend 97.6% of my time living & breathing hostel life, but I do dedicate the other small fraction of my life to getting the runners on and doing anything but running in the beautiful surroundings. Supposing I wasn’t in the ‘completely-and-utterly-done-with-men’ phase of my life, I would make the cheapest date ever because the things that bring me a little chink of happiness are essentially all free. I’m partial to a little sunset and I would share the same love for sunrises if I didn’t love my bed so much. While visiting Huka Falls & hiking the Tongariro crossing are great things to do if you’re just ticking off the ‘must-do’s’, little Taupo has SO much more to offer in the way of beautiful spots and I’ve curated a little (ever-growing) list of all my faves as below;
My first fave spot is on the way to Spa Thermal Park, just off County Avenue – I have come to know this as ‘The Space in the Trees’ – because it is a view point from a space in the trees. I know, I’m a creative, I have a way with words – you don’t need to tell me. This spot is just gorgeous in the golden hour just before sunset and the river reflecting the moody Taupo skies just has me falling in love over and over again.
If you’re going to make the effort to head to the aforementioned, you might as well just walk an extra 10 minutes to enjoy one of mother nature’s finer crafts – Spa Thermal Park or more commonly known as ‘The Hot Pools’ – just ask Ben if you’re looking for a tour guide. My favourite time to go is early morning, around 7am, because it’s so peaceful and you have the whole place to yourself – I’m selfish like that. Mind you, I can count on one single finger the amount of times I’ve done that because, as mentioned, I’m lazy as and love my bed too much.
It’s definitely not my favourite spot in Taupo, but I couldn’t not give it a little mention. When the sun is setting & the tourists are lacking, the #lovetaupo sign gets a big yes from me.
The lakefront is not shy of other wonderful spots to watch the sunset or enjoy a stroll at any time of the day. The pictures below are all taken somewhere along the lakefront, walking from the boat harbour to 2-mile bay.
This one is a bit bizarre and probably lends itself to my strange obsession with nature weddings & elopements, but if you take the bike trails to Huka Falls as opposed to the standard walking route, you’ll stumble upon this little eden which I’ve come to call ‘The Altar’. If I ever decide that spending my remaining years with someone who leaves their boxers on the bathroom floor is a reasonable life choice, then I’m putting a ring on it HERE.
We’re really spoiled when it comes to beautiful chill spots in Taupo with both the lake AND the river within 10 minutes of the town centre. I love heading to the Taupo Bungy lookout just before dark to catch a view of the pixar clouds doing their thing & further along the river, back towards the lake, there is a gorgeous spot where you can see just how clear the water is. If you’re here in summer and looking for a cool free activity (we love the free stuff, don’t we?) you can grab yourself a rubber ring and float down the river for a couple of hours towards Spa Thermal Park.
In the spirit of saving the best ’til last, I’ve kept my absolute favourite & most frequented spot until the end. I literally do not need to go into detail as to why I adore this little spot, the pictures speak for themselves. Heading to this place of an evening (many evenings), has given me the much needed space for me-time & introspection and I’ve solved many of lives greatest wonders just sitting on that dock. My favourite place in the world right now, without a shadow of a doubt, is Taupo Boat Harbour.
My heart is literally fit to burst after writing this blog post. I literally love this place beyond words. I know I will be sad to leave Taupo when I start my travels again but in many ways that makes me strangely happy. It shows how much this period of my life has given to me – much of which is not tangibly measurable – and highlights my commitment to being present in the moment & living very much in the now. Oh shucks, your girl has alllll the feels.
A trip to Taupo can be all-singing, all-dancing, mountain climbing & out-of-plane-jumping if you want it to be. But if you’re looking to do a little bit less & a feel a little bit more, I hope my post has shown you that it has the capacity to give you that too. And if you’re smart enough to add this gorgeous place to your New Zealand road trip bucket list, make you’re smart enough to stay at Taupo’s number one hostel-extraordinaire, YHA Finlay Jack’s.
All the love & positive vibes in the whole wide world,