At Luxury Adventures we like to product test as many of the properties and activities as is possible to ensure high standards are met, and to keep up to date with new products. I have to admit it is a part of my job that I love – so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world! Last week my family and I spent 5 days in Taupo and Rotorua, staying at two quite different properties and testing some outdoor activities.
Taupo is a 4 hour drive from Auckland, and can also be reached via a 45 minute flight from Auckland Airport if preferred. Taupo is known for its great lake, the largest lake in New Zealand at 616 square kilometres. It’s an adventure playground, renowned for trout fishing, great walks such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, white water rafting, jet boating, Bungy jumping, helicopter rides and much more as well as the stunning lake and mountain vistas.
We stayed at the Point Villas, located on Whakamoenga Point, a 10 minute drive from central Taupo. The point is a private gated estate on 58 acres of native bush, with two all-weather floodlight tennis courts, Petanque pit, chip and putt golf greens, bush walks, boat ramps, private beaches and views to die for! There are two luxury private villas – each villa has views over lake Taupo, and mountain views of Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Pihanga. We stayed in villa one and Peg Bull the property owner and host greeted us on arrival to show us around the villa. Villa one has two bedrooms each with its own spacious bathroom, huge spa baths and showers, a kitchen any chef would love to own, complete with every kitchen appliance you could wish for including a Nespresso machine, lounge dining area with plush furnishings, fire place for the cooler winter days, and a large sundeck deck with a BBQ and entertaining area, not to forget the solar heated pool, and did I mention those views! Peg has great style which is reflected in the villas furnishings and décor. Each villa has two master bedrooms and en-suites, and an extra rollaway can also be provided making them perfect for two couples or families travelling together. Whilst the villas are self-catering, a part or full lodge experience can be arranged. Peg can provide breakfast provisions; pre-order self-catering provisions and have them waiting for you on check in or have a chef cater for you at the villa.
Whilst in Taupo we enjoyed a sail on the lake with Sarah from the Barbary Taupo. The Barbary is a beautifully restored 1920s yacht which was once owned by Hollywood’s Errol Flynn and sailed the waters of Fiji for many years before arriving in Taupo, the yachts new owners Jamie and Sarah Looner purchased her in 2011 and lovingly refurbished her to the standard it is today. The cruise departs from Redoubt Street, a short 10 minute drive from Point Villas. Sarah expertly sails the waters of Lake Taupo whilst passing on her knowledge of the lake and local area. After about 45 minutes of sailing you arrive at the famous Maori rock carvings, situated in Mine Bay. If you wish to see these another way you’ll have to hire a boat of kayak as the rock carvings are only accessible by boat. They were created in the late 1970s by local artists lead by John Randall. They’re possibly the largest of their type in the world, Sarah explains the meanings behind each carving. Great photo opportunities present themselves as you get really close to the carvings. In the summer months there is time for a swim and you are welcome to take your own beverages and food on board, Sarah also provides hot drinks and a snack, before sailing back to berth in Taupo. Choose to lie back and enjoy the cruise or perhaps help with hoisting the sails. The Barbary can also be taken as an exclusive tour.
New Zealand is known for is stunning natural beauty and also as an adventure playground. Jet boating being one of the “must do’s” on a New Zealand vacation. The Huka jet is the only company permitted to take you to the base of the majestic Huka falls. This thrilling adventure lasts an hour and takes you along the Waikato river, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff faces and natural hot springs all the way to the base of the falls. Our jet boat pilot Steve, must really love his job and I am sure we got an extra few 360o degree spins! The entire family loved the experience, something for young and old.
Whilst we were sad to leave Taupo and the Point Villas we were also excited to move to Rotorua, and the adventures we had planned there. Rotorua is a one hour drive north of Taupo, and is the geothermal capital of New Zealand. The region boasts 18 lakes, geothermal spas and hot pools, great walks, the world famous Zorb and luge, trout fishing, hunting, fantastic mountain biking in the “Redwoods” or Whakarewarewa Forest, and so much more. Our first stop was to the Redwoods Forest, where they boys (dad and son) hired mountain bikes and headed of for a 2 hour adventure in the forest. With around 130km of trails there is something to cater for all levels of rider, from beginners and family groups through to experts looking for extreme action. Bikes, helmets can be hired from the hire centre in the main car park, where there is also a café. The boys had a blast and said it is some of the best mountain biking trails they have ever experienced. Tony Townley the Luxury Adventures owner is an avid mountain biker and is happy to discuss incorporating some Rotorua mountain biking into your New Zealand vacation, we can organise bike hire, transfers, even tours if you like.
Whilst in Rotorua we stayed at Koura Lodge, located on Kawaha Point Rd, only a 5 minute drive from central Rotorua. The lodge is set on the shores of the lake, and many of its suites have doors opening onto a lawn only a few metres from the lake shore. Koura lodge is boutique style accommodation with 10 suites, each opening onto private verandas and with 180odegree lake views. There are kayaks for you to use, a tennis court, sauna, spa and a private jetty from which you can arrange to be picked up by boat or float plane for a fishing trip or scenic flight to White Island. My family enjoyed a peaceful couple of hours kayaking on the still waters of Lake Rotorua. After which we relaxed in the outdoor hot spa enjoying the lake and mountain views. Koura Lodge is close enough to Rotorua to enjoy all the local attractions and restaurants but you have a feeling of being a million miles away. The property also has options for family suites and an apartment, perfect for small groups or families, you could also choose to take the lodge exclusively. The lodge has a cosy lounge area where you can meet fellow travellers and swap holiday stories. Breakfast is served in a sunny breakfast room or outside on sunnier days with lake views. The hosts Gina & David know the area very well and are always happy to offer advice on what to do or which local restaurant to dine at.
There are great walks in the Taupo and Rotorua area, we chose to walk the Green Lake/Blue Lake walking track. These lakes are found on the Tarawera Road, a 20 minute drive from Koura lodge. These two lakes sit side by side each other and as the names suggest have quite different visible colours, there is a viewing platform half way round the circular walk where you can see both lakes at once and compare. The walking track is easy, well-marked and defined, being only 5.5 km in total. There are many other walks in the area, to suit all levels of fitness, the Luxury Adventures team can make recommendations, arrange transfers to the walks, guides and equipment.
My family thoroughly enjoyed their stay at both Point Villas and Koura Lodge, and exploring our spectacular country. If you would like any further information on either of these two properties or the Taupo and Rotorua region please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kay Campbell is a luxury travel specialist at Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.