Lake Taupō’s nautical saga: Dreams, disasters, detours and a love story

On Lake Taupō, New Zealand, Sue Hoffart finds a nautical saga that has it all.

Although Dave Nesbitt may have been born to sail, he’s taken some unlikely detours en route to yacht ownership. And he’s certainly struck some rough water along the way. The man at the helm of Taupō Sailing Adventures is a former motorbike racer who lists truck driving, motel ownership and bar management among his previous careers. None of these diversions come close to the thrill he experiences running his yacht tour company alongside wife Jess, on Aotearoa’s largest lake.

Dave has been taking tourists onto this water body for more than 16 years, offering regular daily trips as well as private charters and sunset tours to the Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori rock carvings. Latterly, he has started showing guests the more remote western side of the lake, with its waterfalls and pristine private coves. On days off, he and Jess will either tick off maintenance jobs or head out on their 14m sloop Kindred Spirit to explore new corners of the lake, or push the vessel into a bracing breeze.

“Once I got on the lake, I just fell in love with sailing and realised what Dad was trying to show me as a kid,” Dave says.

Dave and his wife Jess both at the steering wheel
Dave and his wife Jess run the business together. Photo – Dave Nesbitt

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