Meredith Kessler is a pro triathlete and Ironman champion who has kicked butt in races all over the world. Her favorite spot is Taupo, a beautiful lakeside town in the central North Island of New Zealand, where she will return this March for an Ironman New Zealand six-peat! Lake Taupo lies in the caldera of the dormant Taupo Volcano and is celebrated for water sports, hiking in the surrounding Huka Falls and soaking in the nearby hot springs. Anatomie is proud to sponsor Meredith’s travel wardrobe, which she wears whenever she’s not competing. The Life of a Triathlete author shares her top things to see and do in Taupo, dubbed “nature’s ultimate playground.”

The allure of Taupo: “There is something special in the air when my husband and I touch down in Auckland and drive the two and a half hours to Taupo; we feel at ease as New Zealand is our happy place. After coming to Taupo for the past five years, we have made friends here, experienced the farm-to-table dining, played in the gorgeous outdoors, taken in the beauty of the lake, fly fished the magnificent streams…I could go on and on!”

Can't-miss attractions: “My husband tries to fly fish everyday in the many streams that flow into Lake Taupo. You can get local knowledge at the fly fishing shops in town. We have also done the Jet Boats at Rapids Jet, the plane ride at Taupo Float Plane and bungy jumped at Taupo Bungy. I swim and relax at Taupo Baths and there are plenty of hot springs to experience in the area. You should also visit the impressive Huka Falls on the outskirts of town. My inlaws went on the Lake Taupo scenic boat ride which takes you to the many Maori carvings and paintings around the area.”

Where to eat: “We stay at the Prince Motor Lodge and attached to this wonderful hotel is Taupo Thai which is my pre-race meal. At the athlete welcome dinner, Ironman New Zealand puts on an amazing show featuring Maori warriors who perform dancing, singing, and chant routines that pump you up to race! For finer dining, go to The Brantry. We also enjoy Plateau and Bodyfuel Café for breakfast; Spoon and Paddle, Vine Eatery and The Steak House Taupo for lunch. New Zealand food is so fresh with tremendous ingredients that it’s tough to go wrong!”

Best time to visit: “We’ve been at the beginning of summer in early December and towards the end of summer in March and both times have been superb. You can experience the wonderful outdoors and fresh air in all its splendor.”

 Carry-on or check-in luggage: “With a triathlon, you have so much gear, check-in luggage is a must. I usually have two big Saucony bags full of gear, Anatomie outfits, and my essentials along with a bike box. Your carry-on should contain food for the flight, although Air New Zealand provides a great flying experience with good food.

Anatomie pieces to pack: “The most useful and comfortable items that I always bring are the Kate Skinny Cargo Pants (my favorite), the Delaney Vest and the Jas Foulard scarf. The weather in New Zealand when we typically arrive is usually cooler in the morning, which is when the scarf comes in handy. As it warms up a bit during the day, I can take that and the vest off and continue to be as comfortable and cool as ever in my Kate Pants which go with everything!”

Ideal spot for Ironman: “The crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo, mild temperatures, and inviting race atmosphere always appeal to me. You’re able to leave the hustle and bustle of life behind for a few days and experience a town and culture that makes you feel at home. People across the globe need to get the memo that this is a #1 destination and bucket list race!”

Ironman lessons: “The course, although beautiful, is deceptively challenging. The biking is difficult because the roads are made of chip seal, which makes it tougher to pedal—your tires need to be inspected for wear and tear and ready to go! The run has a lot of false flats so it’s tougher than it looks. The start can be cool and the run can be very hot; the range of temperatures can be extreme.”

Post-race indulgence: “My husband and I visit the amazing five-star fishing lodge of Poronui, 45 minutes away from Taupo, where he can continue to enjoy the beautiful New Zealand outdoors and I can unwind and relax. There are amazing home-cooked meals on this expansive and impressive property. It’s a place where you can get away from the chaos of life! We also visit Napier which is two hours away and go to wine country—we’ve had memorable experiences at all the wineries in the area and the food is outstanding.”

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