The plan brings together the district's natural advantages of water, geothermal energy, and diverse landscapes to create a roadmap for future planning. It also aligns with key national and regional funding sources announced by the government. The plan includes six catalyst projects: the airport, civic precinct, tertiary hub, and geothermal industry, as well as the Wairakei Tourist Park, and a Turangi to Taupō cycle trail.
Mayor David Trewavas said the Taupo District's natural advantages put it in a strong position.
"This plan gives us opportunities to succeed on a national scale, bringing together the best ideas for long-term sustainable growth, and economic growth from increased tourism and industry investment will increase job opportunities and prosperity in the district," he said.
"It offers a blueprint for economic development, particularly in regard to working partnerships and they will be the key to our success. The support of local iwi, the Provincial Development Fund, and the Bay of Connections strategies and work streams, are vital components as we move forward."
The plan highlights six key projects:
The airport project will use a staged approach to develop the airport and surrounding commercial precinct to accommodate projected rising visitor numbers. The plan will improve the visitor experience at the airport and increase connections with local attractions like Mount Ruapehu. With Ruapehu Alpine Lifts investing $100 million over 10 years in improving the infrastructure on the ski fields, Taupo will be positioned as a key winter ski resort for the North Island, and as a viable alternative to the ski towns in the South Island.
The civic precinct is a series of developments that will reconnect the town centre with the river and lake front. Potential projects include developing a café area on the lakefront and improving the Tongariro Domain layout to make the most of this scenic central location. The precinct work is part of Taupo's Commercial and Industrial Structure Plan.
The tertiary hub project aims to improve the knowledge economy of Taupo by attracting tertiary-level training providers. Suggested topic areas include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), tourism, iwi-based enterprise and geothermal activity. The project will increase local education opportunities and create a knowledge centre for the district.
The geothermal industry plan is to promote Taupō as a centre for industrial applications and research of geothermal energy. As part of the Bay of Connections Energy Strategy, businesses with potential industrial applications of geothermal energy are being approached. The current focus is on the forestry sector. Partners for a research facility are also being explored. Increased investment from these areas will bring high income jobs to the district and improve business efficiencies and revenue.
The Wairakei Tourism Park will connect existing and new operators in this area, creating an adventure precinct for the district. Linking the operators together will help to promote the location as a strong tourist destination, subsequently increasing visitor numbers and investment.
The Turangi to Taupo cycle trail (T2T) will showcase Lake Taupo's eastern bays through a 57km shared-use cycle and walking trail. The trail will attract domestic and international tourists to the area and offer business opportunities for the communities of Waitahanui, Motutere, Waitekoko, and Motuoapa.
The strengthening plan has been created in collaboration with key partners, including iwi entities, Enterprise Great Lake Taupo, Destination Great Lake Taupo and the Chamber of Commerce. Delivery timelines differ for each catalyst project and are dependent on completion of feasibility studies and approval of funding.
A full copy of the strategy can be found here.