New Zealand is a wonderful destination and as a triathlete and New Zealand destination specialist at Goway, I decided it would be a great idea to do one of the world’s most iconic Ironman events (this was to be it’s 35th year) in the beautiful destination of Taupo. What a great opportunity to spend more time in this wonderful destination and visit new places and experience that wonderful kiwi hospitality.
I flew into Auckland from Vancouver on the direct flight with Air New Zealand. I’d decided it would be worth it to pay for a Premium Economy upgrade as I had heard nothing but great things about this product. It was indeed as wonderful as I’d hoped with amazing food and drinks, that great Kiwi service, and I certainly arrived feeling way more rested, relaxed, and refreshed.
I spent a lovely day/night in Auckland to get over jet lag, see the sights, and relax before picking up a car to travel around a little before heading down to Taupo. Auckland has a beautiful harbour front and lots of great restaurants as well as many wonderful day trips and local islands nearby. I then spent three wonderful days on the Coromandel Peninsula, east of Auckland, which is so lush and green, with beautiful bays and beaches.
The race is in Taupo and is held on the first weekend in March. The town of Taupo is set right on the lakefront of the largest lake in New Zealand and is pretty stunning. The town was abuzz with athletes, friends, and families there to support and spectate, along with the massive amount of locals who volunteer year after year for this race to make it something really special. An Ironman is a 3.9km swim, 18km bike, and a 42.2km run, so you get to experience lots of Taupo and its surrounds while doing the race. A freshwater lake where you can see the bottom, as it’s so clear, is just a wonderful place for a swim. Biking along by the lake and then through the farmlands and finally running through the town and along the lake front was wonderful (even when it was hurting!) The genuine Kiwi support and hospitality certainly shone through in the race to make it a special event. Then imagine how much food and drink you can consume post Ironman—this is one of the best places in the world for doing that as Kiwi food and drink is world famous and rightly so!
Luckily there are some wonderful hot pools close by for post-race day rest and relaxation. And then I drove to Tongariro National Park where the next day I completed half (would have loved to do the whole crossing, but I was still tired from my race) of the famous Tongariro crossing on a spectacular day. It’s such an iconic hike and one of the most popular in the country and I can see why.
It was then back to Auckland with a quick stop at the wonderful Hobbiton Movie Set for a tour. It was pretty cool to hear all about the movie and see the actual set and farm in real life. This is just a snippet of my wonderful New Zealand experience.