The very colourful L’Arte Cafe and Gallery, Taupō.
Just around the lake edge from Taupō, in Acacia Bay, and founded by the mother-daughter team Jo and Judi Brennan, this is a delight for all the senses that’s deservedly popular.
Tucked into a neat garden back from the bay are both colourful and original artwork, and a licensed café serving a range of such delicious food that it is a huge relief that the breakfast and lunch menus are simultaneously available all day.
Whether it’s a proper meal you need, or an in-between treat you want, you’ll find it here, with the appropriate drink to go with it.
Even better, though, there is real art to admire in the garden. There are metal and pottery sculptures to catch your eye as you walk up the path, some of them kinetic, but the main act is the spectacularly colourful outdoor living room with sofas, armchair, fireplace, tables and a window.
* Mou Waho: Wānaka’s secret island that’s a Garden of Eden
* World Famous in New Zealand: Makarora’s Blue Pools
* World Famous in New Zealand: Auckland’s NZ Warbirds at Ardmore
* Another set of Acacia Bay recollections at Taupō Museum
Each surface is a marvel of jigsawed pieces of bright tile, smooth and decorative. Even more marvellous, given the hard nature of the materials, the seats are superbly comfortable, the cushions clearly pre-indented by real bottoms. With flowers and birds part of the creation, it’s quirky, cheerful and clever, and irresistibly photogenic. This decorative theme is continued in the café and throughout the garden.
Because when did you last feed body and soul at the same time, this colourfully? From the corn fritters and yummy Mexican bowl to the flower birdbaths and kete wall art, a visit to both L’Arté Café and its Gallery is deeply satisfying.
Take a proper wander around the garden to spot all the artworks, you’ll need sharp eyes for some of them – look twice at those flowers and butterflies. Don’t miss the gallery where there’s a range of different creations, large and small, to admire and buy, and where the workshop behind is a pottery studio that produces much of the art you’ve been admiring.
ON THE WAY/NEARBY
Now you’re all fuelled up, head back down to Acacia Bay and use some of that energy at Taupō Kayaking Adventures. They offer a variety of hiking and biking activities, with or without guides, but it’s hard to beat a paddle around the lake to view the spectacular 14m high Māori rock carvings at Mine Bay.
If that sounds too much like hard work, take a gentle stroll along the lake edge on the nearby Rangatira Point Track for some great views. Or if it’s a Saturday morning, go back towards town for a browse around the Taupō Market, just off Acacia Bay Rd.
No charge to enter the garden, so you could theoretically enjoy the mosaics for free – but then you would be depriving yourself of that excellent food and coffee.
BEST TIME TO GO
The café can get busy, so time your visit wisely. A sunny day is best to enjoy the garden art. Currently, open Wednesday to Sunday 8am till 4pm. See: www.larte.co.nz