Heading away on these shorter trips over winter/early spring, we always try and look at the long-range forecast to see what the weather is going to do. This time it was showing a relatively sizeable low appearing to be parked over Northland that helped us make the decision to head south on this trip. Each time we have stopped in Taupo, we have tried to stay in a different place to experience more and also to have something new to share on the blog.
I had read excellent reports on various Facebook posts about the National Equestrian Centre located to the northeast of Taupo and convinced Sarah this would be an excellent place to stay. At $5 per person per night plus $5 per vehicle, if you want power, it’s reasonably priced for a facility like this. It also has a dump station, water, toilets, free shower, kitchen and washing machines, although finding them is another story.
The NZMCA directory and App mentions to come in through gate 1 although that was shut, so we came through gate 2. The registration booth is located next to the toilets and easy to spot. The fun part was with the wind constantly blowing the door shut, and with no interior light, it made it a job for two people to register. One to hold the door open and the other to complete the paperwork.
The map in the registration booth shows a large parking area on the grassed area overlooking one of the arenas. The power boxes are scattered along here so if the place was full, there might not be power for everyone, or you may not be able to get close enough to point for your plug to reach. The ablutions block is clean and tidy, well set up but for some reason there is no shower in the mens, so it’s either use the disabled shower (unisex) or the one in your own van.
We found ourselves a sweet spot a bit further forward than what you can see in the photos, but a rather large tree prevented the aerial from tuning in, necessitating moving the van back so that the evening news could be watched.
With the van parked up, it was off for our usual exploration of the area. This complex is absolutely massive, and although we didn’t need the dump station, we wanted to find where it was as well as the location of the laundry facilities as there is nothing in the sign-in booth to tell you where they are.
To the left of the campsite looking from the road is gate 3, which leads to the above information board, which sadly still doesn’t tell you where the dump station is located. Interestingly the last hazard written on the board dates from 2016, so you have nothing to fear entering this site!
Mission accomplished! In the far left corner of the grounds are a set of portacoms, which are available as accommodation for the night if needed. It’s here that the kitchen and laundry are located although I only found this out later so never got any photos. Then behind the portacoms is the dump station. A little signage or an instructional map somewhere would be of great benefit to newbies such as us visiting this place.
As you would expect the National Equestrian Centre is all about the horses and although there was a marked absence of them on the day of our visit, I am assured that they are usually there in high numbers, especially over the weekends. Given the volume of stables and the size of the arena’s including this huge indoor one, it’s obviously built with this in mind.
From the equestrian centre, it’s just a short walk or drive down the road to the point where it splits into two one way to the Rapid’s Jet, boat ride which we chose not to do on this occasion but maybe on another visit. Rates currently are at $129 for a 35-minute ride although we found a special on www.grabone.co.nz for only $69 so make sure you check for specials before parting with any money. Speaking with the staff here they told us about the dam release at various times and to make sure we went to look.
The other fork in the road takes you on about a 20-minute walk towards a bridge over the river and a power station. As we wandered along the road, we noticed an overpowering smell from the side of the road, going to investigate we discovered the remains of several sheep as well as a goat. So we wondered if some rustling and dumping had been going on.
Arriving at the bridge over the river where we could see the remnants of the release flowing over the rapids just up the river. It was also interesting to see what looks like a perfect spot for some freedom camping with a large area just before the dam, but a check of Campermate doesn’t show any camping here so not sure if it is allowed.
We decided that we would spend another night in Taupo and move onto another destination making a stop first to see the opening of the dam gates at 12 noon which despite looking upside down here will play the right way. (I really do have to work out this issue). More about this in the next post.
So would we stay again at the National Equestrian Centre, the answer to this is yes, in fact, we have already (The blog is a few days behind real life). Away from the hustle and bustle of busier places like 5 Mile Bay but still close enough to all the major attractions.
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To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the Ratings, we have done for places we have stayed click here