Mike Yardley: Great Temptations in Taupō
Luxuriating in the heart of Lake Taupō, onboard a private fishing charter with Chris Jolly Outdoors, the bright spring sunshine had cast the great lake in a deep shade of oceanic blue, as the water glinted like freshly cut diamonds. The immensity of this inland sea, which encompasses the size of Singapore, transfixed me as much as the wrapround totems to a deep and dramatic history. The mighty snow-capped peaks of the volcanic plateau brooded on the horizon and Motutaiko Island seemingly floated in the middle of the lake like a mirage. I was lost in the reverie of this storied landscape, while trying my hand at landing a fish. It had been a long time between drinks, given the last time I had caught a fish was on Akaroa Wharf as a ten year old. And I had managed to bag myself a dog fish.
But I was in the best of hands because the Jolly family are synonymous with trout fishing in Taupō, ever since launching their outdoors excursions in 1980. With a wealth of activity options, I was living it up onboard their gleaming Levante Rivera 4000 Offshore Sedan, on a private luxury charter. Suitable for up to six guests, the glamour and elegance of this launch is irresistible, with a full-slate of amenities. My personal crew were impeccable hosts, effervescent and outgoing, serving eats and drinks, kitting me out with the fishing gear and catering to my every whim, while illuminating me greatly about the grandeur of the lake. As much as I’d love to brag about my personal fishing prowess, I only landed a decent-sized rainbow trout courtesy of their proven expertise and intuitive knowledge of the lake.
Whether you opt for a private fishing charter or join a scenic cruise with Chris Jolly Outdoors, an unrivalled highlight is to drool over the gobsmacking artwork that adorns the rock face of Mine Bay, tucked away in Lake Taupō. We got an intimate, up-close encounter, just metres away from this spell-binding rock carving called Ngātoroirangi. Back in the 1970s, Matahi Whakataka Brightwell’s grandmother asked him to create a likeness of her ancestor Ngātoroirangi on a totara tree. When Matahi arrived in Taupō, there was no totara tree to carve, so he ventured onto the lake for inspiration. Mine Bay’s rock alcove became the canvas for one of the most sublime contemporary carvings New Zealand has ever seen, towering 14 metres above the deep water, with a supporting cast of smaller sculptures honouring other ancestors and guardians. Wearing just speedos and safety glasses, while standing on bamboo scaffolding, it took four years for Matahi and three fellow artists to complete this heroic artwork. Weathered by the elements, Matahi is now planning some touch-ups. https://chrisjolly.co.nz/