When planning my family's North Island driving vacation, I concluded we had one night to spend in the Lake Taupo area and debated whether to spend it in the city of Taupo, or at the south end of the lake in the much smaller village of Turangi. I chose Turangi for the opportunity to learn more about and observe the world famous trout fishing there, and the possibility of visiting the geothermal pools nearby. (If it had been summer, the neaby National Park would have been a major draw as well). If you face this same choice, I highly recommend Turangi.
Although the Tongariro River Motel wasn't my first choice for a place to stay in Turangi -- probably because Tripadvisor doesn't list it as being in Turangi, but rather Taupo -- I consider myself extremely lucky to have wound up there. Although there are motels and lodges elsewhere that I have rated highly on TripAdvisor for a variety of reasons (value, location, etc), this is a rare one that I am giving 5 stars because my whole family wholeheartedy loved it.
After repeatedly, over several weeks, trying to contact the Creel Lodge or the (much more expensive) Oreti Lodge and receiving no reply from either, I e-mailed the TRM and almost immediately received an absolutely delightful e-mail back Ross and Pip. Reservations were easily and quickly made and confirmed, the Bakers not even demanding a credit card to hold our place. So I knew even before we got there that a stay at the TRM would be a treat.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Ross and Boof, the Wonder Dog (a local celebrity). Ross, as expected, was gregarious and a source of all sorts of useful information. Boof may be the sweetest, best mannered canine I've ever met. When I mentioned my plans to take a late afternoon stroll to observe folks fishing along the river, Ross offered to let us (and my 13 year old son in particular, who was drooling at the prospect) take Boof with us. We did so, and this was a huge hit with the family.
As for the accomodations, the unit we were given was enormous, with two bedrooms (and an extra bed in the living area if needed for a fifth adult), a large bathroom, a dining room, a completely equipped kitchen, and a good sized living room. Like many places we stayed in NZ, the heating was provided by an electric wall unit (in this case with an accurate digital temperature control), supplemented here by an additional floor-standing electric heater which could be used if needed. The unit had a DVD player in addition to a TV, and a modest selection of DVDs were available at the office for free viewing. Lighting in the living room area was a bit dim, but no problem. In general the furnishings were a little old, but well cared for and comfy. The whole place was extremely cozy. It would be easy to spend a week, or several weeks, there (and the modest cost would make this feasible financially).
The location of the TRM is wonderful for anyone with plans to fish in the river (most likely the biggest draw to Turangi), which is just a very short distance away, perhaps a hundred meters. (By the way, do NOT use Google Maps to locate the motel, which Google places nowhere near Link Road, the actual address. We were using the Google map to find the hotel and wasted about 20 minutes hunting for it, til we figured out the problem. If you're coming from Taupo, look very carefully to your left right after you cross the bridge, the motel sign is easy to miss -- at least we did!)
Dining options proved somewhat limited in Turangi, but there was a good grocery store within walking distance. With such a well-equipped kitchen in our unit, we decided to enjoy a home-cooked meal, a pleasant break from restaurant food.
Thanks again Ross, Pip, and Boof, for a wonderful stay. We hope to be back someday, and do some fishing the next time!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tongariro River Motel has eleven relaxed comfy fully-self-contained older retro units, varying from spacious studios sleeping three persons to two bedroom family units sleeping up to six, with every facility ideally suitable for long term stays. Tongariro River Motel is their 'chosen preferred selected' Turangi accommodation confirmed by the * "star" rating All units have full size ovens, microwaves, fridges. Covered parking, under cover bbq's. 50 sky TV channels. Free wifi. Free guest laundry (with washing machine, laundry powder, electric dryer or clothesline), Trout cleaning station, free fish smoker, free fish freezers available. Free bikes plus lock up facilities for visitors bikes and baggage. Pet friendly (also owners' friendly Boxer dog available for "walkies") Childrens play area with trampoline, slide and swings. Childs cots and high chairs available. Electric heating throughout, electric blankets, electric irons, hair dryers. Security safe at reception, fax and copying service. Extensive range of fishing & tramping guide maps & library books & DVD's, Complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate provided. Ample free parking for boats and trailers. Tongariro River Trail shuttle bus service. All smoke free rooms. All units serviced daily or by arrangement. ... more less
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