Lake Taupo in the centre of New Zealand's north island offers a different winter experience from the ski slopes of the south island. Just three hours from Auckland, Lake Taupo is 46 kilometres long and offers a range of leisure activities including trout fishing, hunting, golf, thermal pools, trekking, horseriding, boating and snowskiing.
It also has some of the world's best fly fishing rivers and hunting locations. The nearby Tongariro Crossing is a fantastic one-day walk.
Lake Taupo lies in a caldera created by a super-volcanic eruption which occurred around 26,500 years ago. Records show it has experienced at least 28 volcanic eruptions in the last 27,000 years. Two were amongst the largest the world has ever experienced. It last erupted in AD130, belching out 33 billion tonnes of pumice.
Catriona snuggled in to the elegant Hilton Lake Taupo which started out in 1889 as a fishing lodge. Views across New Zealand's largest lake and Tongariro National Park are mesmerising.
The original Terraces Hotel forms the Heritage Wing with rooms featuring private balconies taking in the lake and Thermal Springs. It has retained the ambience of an old fishing club with memories of Scottish and English anglers who travelled there with the promise of huge trout in big numbers. The Mountain Wing has rooms, suites and apartments.
Dine in style at Bistro Lago and unwind by an open fire in winter or on the balcony in summer.
There's a spa, flood-lit tennis courts and a full gym. Enjoy the heated outdoor pool, sauna, spa pool and steam room. Geothermal springs are active directly under the hotel and are used to generate electricity to heat the pool. Catriona described the experience as blissful.
It would be a shame to not try your hand at trout fishing, and Simon Jolly is there to show you how it's done. He's been fishing the lake since he was a little boy and his family-run business has been operating for over thirty years.
If you want to eat trout in New Zealand you have to catch it yourself. It's classified as a sport fish and cannot be served commercially. If you do land a trout, it will be prepared to your liking at your hotel. Smoked, baked, barbecued, sashimi you name it.
Clay pigeon shooting will test your accuracy with a gun. It's not as easy as it looks, and there's always the temptation to shout 'pull' just one more time.
Constant rumbling and tremors are a part of every day life in the area. Maoris have lived with it for 1200 years, and to remind us of their connection to the land are some most impressive rock carvings at Mine Bay. Measuring over 10 metres high, they are accessible only by boat. They ooze spirituality and cultural beauty.
They aren't ancient it all happened in the 1970s when master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell went to his mother's land. On a boat trip he saw the cliffs and decided to use them as a canvas for his work. They are in traditional style depicting legends, and two smaller carvings recognise the Celtic influence of European settlers. The Ngatoroirangi carving took four summers to complete.
Lake Taupo in the centre of New Zealand's north island.
Lake Taupo Hilton self-contained one bedroom apartments start at $291. Suites start at $207.
Chris Jolly Outdoors' one-and-a-half hour private charter, including trout fishing, costs $198. They operate at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 5pm in summer months only. They offer muffins, coffee, beer and wine. Clay pigeon shooting tours cost $198 for three hours and include boat charter, clay targets and ammunition. Fishing can be included. They operate every day. They also offer guided fly fishing, hiking, biking and hunting.
Air New Zealand has flights to Christchurch, Auckland and Queenstown.
- Sydney and Melbourne $189
- Brisbane $190
- Sydney and Melbourne $220
- Brisbane $249
- Adelaide $297
- Melbourne $288
- Sydney $289
Sales and validity dates apply.
Prices correct at August 13, 2011.
For further information
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
Hilton Lake Taupo
80-100 Napier Taupo Highway
New Zealand 3330
Ph: 64 7 378 7080
Fax: 64 7 378 4174
Chris Jolly Outdoors
14 Rauhoto Street
Ph: 64 7 378 0623
Visa: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.
Electricity: 230V/50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.
Time zone: GMT +1.
Currency: The New Zealand dollar.
Telephone code: +64.
It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for areas you will be visiting. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.