There are a few things that the beautiful lakeside town of Taupo is known for.
The giant lake smack bang in the middle of it is hard to miss. Friendly locals and holidaymakers are well known. And probably most prominently - adrenaline-filled activities, like bungy jumping, jetboating, and skydiving.
I confess, this means I've always steered clear of Taupo in favour of other towns Aotearoa has to offer. I have a crippling phobia of heights and no great love of speed, meaning I didn't think there was much to offer me in this town full of people jumping off bridges and out of planes.
But that all changed when GoPro invited me to head along to Taupo to check out the new Hero8 camera. I thought I was the wrong woman for the job, given I would be partaking in... almost no activities.
But it turns out Taupo has a lot more to offer. Despite being known as the adventure capital of the world - it's actually somewhere you can go and have a great time, even if you're a giant scaredy-cat.
If you're looking for a different kind of holiday, here's my highlights of what the town has to offer.
Taupo for a chilled, relaxing getaway:
Street art walking tour
I know what you're thinking - Taupo? Street art? Where?
I thought the same until I was informed that every year, the back allies of Taupo are taken over by a selection of artists for street art festival Graffiato. They're given one weekend and a blank wall to express themselves however they see fit. There are now over 85 murals tucked away in laneways and behind shops - you just have to get yourself a map, some comfy shoes and go looking. We were blown away by some of the wonders hiding in the most unexpected of stops.
E-bike mountain biking
Mountain biking doesn't sound particularly relaxing as such, but hear me out. The team at FourB will get you kitted out from their fleet of e-bikes to make things easy. E-biking through Taupo's forest terrain means you're not gasping up the hills and only looking about a foot in front of you down the steep straights. Instead, boosting yourself up and down with electronic power means you get a chance to take in your stunning surroundings - like the unbelievable Huka Falls. You go at your own pace, meaning if you're like me you can take the sharp corners slowly. If you want to show off later, the guys at FourB have some helmets you can strap a GoPro to, to capture the whole, exhilarating tour.
If you're looking for a little pampering after your hectic morning walking and e-biking, look no further than the Wairakei Terraces hot pools. The rejuvenating waters of Wairakei pouring over the silica terraces are rich in minerals and were highly valued by Maori for the healing powers and therapeutic benefits. They say there's so much mineral goodness in the pools you shouldn't shower afterwards for as long as possible - let it leech into your skin.
Waikato River Float
If white water isn't your jam, don't stress - a trip in a kayak doesn't have to make your heart pound. The team at Taupo Kayaking Adventures will guide you down the Waikato in a leisurely, low-effort cruise - you can even sip a cool drink while doing so. The water is so clear you can see down to the bottom, and the friendly guides will point our local fauna and flora. If you do feel like a little adrenaline rush, face your fears with a cliff jump near the Taupo bungy platform - or just watch somebody else bungy jump from the comfort of your kayak.
Taupo for an adrenaline-filled adventure:
If you have a need for speed, definitely consider Taupo Karts. Gather your most competitive friends and get hooning around the track, which sits just outside the main township. I have to say, a strange force came over me when I was in the vibrating, low slung kart that I'd never had before, and I actually ended up winning! Well no, I came second-to-last. But that's a win in my book. And if you crash, the lovely people at Taupo Karts will come and pull you out of the tyre wall to send you on your merry way.
Huka Falls Jet
Possibly the most thrilling way to check out the beautiful Huka Falls, this half-hour ride takes you along the river, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff face and hot water streams. Hold on tight, your driver will probably bust out a few full 180° spins that will have you wishing you didn't have a big lunch. This is the best view of the waterfall in town - you just have to enjoy the adrenaline to get there.
Look I've never done one, and never will. But I've heard the people enjoy them and sometimes don't even screech as they plummet towards the water.
Sarah and her partner travelled to Taupo courtesy of GoPro and Love Taupo.