Environmental sensitivity, not often linked with large development schemes, can be a very emotive issue. However, Whakamoanga Point, just minutes away from Taupo and only hours from many North Island cites, is a unique residential project that apears to have solved those problems.
Set in a maze of tranquil New Zealand bush, The Point overlooks Lake Taupo and further out to those superbly scenic mountains of Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Pihanga.
It is difficult to imagine a more splendid scene. Within the botanic garden atmosphere are 46 house sites (six are duplex) of which more than half are already ear-marked or sold. it is easy to see why.
The Point represents three generations of Gower family vision, a will to achieve and a passion for detail which has created an impressive legacy. Developer and family member Robert Gower knows the land well, he can recall early childhood days spent on the foreshore sampling trout, freshly caught by his grandfather.
Before a surveyor’s peg was thought of, Gower spent six weeks walking the property to get the feel of the land and to find the best sites. The house sites had to offer impressive views, be utterly private and have a minimum impact on the visual or intrinsic nature of the area. By following the natural contour of the land, Gower believes the fine balance between change and preservation has been met. No house will impede on the privacy of another and the magnificent views will remain that way.
The concept is to blend with the environment and, to ensure this is maintained, firm guidelines are set out in the sale agreements by the developer’s architects, Page Henderson and Gerald Stock. Man must be at ease with nature, not at odds, and this belief is obvious throughout the estate.
Those who have already bought at The Point vary in age and interests. What links future residents is a common concern for the environment and the pleasure of living in a beautiful one. Money helps too and, as you would expect with this calibre of development, the sections are not cheap.
Gower will not be drawn to discuss actual figures but it is obvious that much has been spent and little has been spared when it comes to quality and detail. Gower admits that he is an entrepreneur and always has been, but the driving force in this development is the family’s attachment to the land.
The project was launched on Christmas Day in 1989 and since then some 10,000 trees have been planted. While the majority are native varieties, exotics such as cherry and rowen have been included to enhance an already prolific birdlife.
Gower’s wife, Penny, has planted groups of rhododendron, camellia and hydrangea which add splashes of excitement and contribute to the botanical mood.
More than 200 tonnes of pungas have been brought on to the property and while adding an indigenous beauty they also disguise some of the less attractive features of the development. Gower is adamant that the likes of sewer lines remain a hidden necessity – linking into the town’s sewerage system put the cost up by one third.
It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made, certainly in the long term.”
The Point has its own helipad, but for those using more conventional modes of travel, you can get there by driving to Acacia Bay and then continuing on. One thing is certain, you know when you’ve arrived.
Totara gates adjoin an impressive stone wall and lead on to some three kilometres of internal roads. Low level bollard lighting, especially imported from Holland, indicates an eye for detail which is apparent in all aspects of The Point.
Several kilometres of walkways have also been created within the development. At night the bollard lighting adds an extra dimension of security. Lighting has also been used to illuminate attractive features such as the fern-covered rock walls.
Although close to Taupo’s many recreational opportunities, The Point’s superb facilities could keep many residents at home.
The recreation pavilion nestles against a backdrop of lush bush andoverlooks two all-weather tennis courts, complete with competition standard on-court lighting, that look out to Lake Taupo. It is easy to imagine sitting on the pavilion’s veranda and sipping a gin and tonic as the sun goes down over Whangamata Head.
Even before completion, the pavilion had an ambience. Built of euroka timber and stone with a wooden shingle roof, it blends well with the surroundings and offers excellent facilities. Undercover but outside is a large barbecue area, and inside a stone fireplace with an imposing totara mantelpiece offers the promise of cosy winter evenings.
Further down the hill is a full-size croquet lawn and three putting greens. The computer-controlled irrigation system takes the headache out of ground maintenance, not that the residents need ever worry about that.
A fulltime manager lives on site and is responsible for all matters of security and maintenance. The manager’s residence includes a small shop which stocks essential items. As the timber weathers, the house itself will hardly be seen. The view from inside the house, however, will always be spectacular, and to call it panoramic seems an unjustified cliche.
All properties at The Point are owned freehold, but residents are issued with two shares in the management company which controls 70 per cent of the property (including roads and walkways) and a large site which has been designated a conservation area.
Incidently, there are plans in the development for a lodge, and the Gowers will probably look to interest an outside developer for that project.
The Point is steeped in history. Huge totara logs, supposed relics of Lake Taupo’s massive 860 AD eruption, were found near the harbour entrance at The Point. Further around, amid the conservation area, is the Okutu Pa site, now an historic place. Beneath Okutu are two large caves which were occupied by Maori people for more than 800 years.
Modern Maori carvings along the rockface at Whakamoanga Point, completed in the mid 1970s, are a link with the past and are a popular attraction for boating tours.
The Gower family have their own historical attachment to this land. Their grandfather, a long-time resident of Taupo, bought the property with riparian rights in 1935. Many summers were spent fishing and camping on the property before a house was built 27 years ago.
In 1970 the government designated the land a reserve. A long legal battle ensued between the family and government and local bodies, until, in 1985, the designation was finally lifted.
With that came high demands for land tax, so decisions on how best to develop or manage the property had to be made.
Jack Gower, Rob’s younger brother, inspired by a development north of Whangarei, carried out a concept plan and financial feasibility study as part of his thesis at Waikato University. He got an A for the paper and the local council accepted the plan in principle.
A compromise was finally reached and although the family lost their riparian rights with the approval of the development, they are not concerned that land along the shoreline is now a public reserve.
In February, 1988, following the sharemarket crash, seven sections were opened up – they sold within a week. This gave the family some very positive direction and they set out to have the best development in New Zealand.
The Point is well on the way to achieving that goal, but Whakamoanga Point has other tempting qualities, because it is renowned as a favourite and prosperous fishing spot, both by fly fisherman and commercial operators. During the spring the water is so clear that when the smelt rise to shallow waters, you can almost touch the trout, although more conventional methods are probably more productive.
Being the most prominent point on Lake Taupo, the area is several degrees warmer than Taupo itself good news for those who complain about the cold winters! That theory may also explain the unusual blue/green water colour around Whakamoanga Point – more reminiscent of the tropics than a freshwater lake.
Whether it’s fishing or boating, the developers have thought about and considered everything. The Point has its own boat harbour, complete with infra-red sensors and flood lighting. There’s also a separate launching ramp with tractor available. All this enables easy access to the lake and the nearby wilderness beaches of the western bays.
The Point has all the practical and luxury facilities you would expect to find anywhere in the world, but it has one very big extra – it’s in a clean, green unspoilt environment.
Located in the centre of the North Island, The Point Villas in Lake Taupo is the perfect base from which to discover the delights of New Zealand: the beauty of New Zealand’s largest lake at your doorstep.