Shandelle Battersby checks into the Heritage Collection Reef Resort, Great Lake Taupo.
I arrived on a Sounds Air flight from Wellington which was scheduled to take an hour but actually took about 45 minutes thanks to clear, calm conditions. My friend made the easy drive down from Auckland in just under 3.5 hours, while if I’d taken the car, I would have arrived in 4.5. Obviously if you’ve carting a lot of ski and snowboard gear, driving is the easier option.
Check-in experience: Friendly and fast.
Room: Make that rooms. Our spacious Luxury Ground Floor Apartment could comfortably sleep six across two bedrooms and another room with a double sofa bed. All three well-appointed rooms have their own TVs and en suites and the apartment also has its own spa pool, barbecue, fully equipped kitchen, Sky TV (only available in the lounge), outdoor table and chairs, loungers overlooking the lake and, best of all, our own internal garage. No iced-up windscreens here, thanks.
Price: If you were travelling with friends or even family, at $700 per night the Luxury Ground Floor Apartment is a great option. The hotel is also currently offering a special Stay and Save package during ski season — stay two nights and pay $595 per night.
There are several other styles of rooms available, all with spa baths.
How’s the view? You’re so close to the lake you’re almost in it. Right out front is a natural hot spring merrily steaming away and a constant parade of people walking, running or cycling along the paved 10km-long Great Lake Walkway from the marina in town out to Five Mile Bay.
What’s in the neighbourhood? There’s a cafe right next door, Espresso Cove, and five minutes’ walk south are a couple of restaurants and a bar. Otherwise you’ll have to drive or taxi into Taupo, which will also take you five minutes, or simply hop on one of the property’s loan bikes ($5) to cycle off to an eatery. Mountain-wise, Whakapapa Ski Field on Mt Ruapehu is a 1hr 20min drive and Turoa is two hours away.
Food and drink: A continental breakfast ($12) or a home-cooked breakfast ($10-$24) can be delivered to your room at a time that suits you.
Bathrooms: Three showers and loos and one spa bath with the plumbing hooked up so the water comes from the ceiling!
Noise: Just the water lapping at the shoreline.
Facilities: Take one of the rental bikes for a ride along the lakefront or ask about the gym you can access in town. There’s also a heated freshwater pool and a thermal water spa pool for communal use in a nicely set-up outdoor area, and a guest laundry.
What’s so good about this place? The lakefront views, the heated flooring and thermal heating throughout, the spa bath (great after a day on the slopes) and the fact that everything you could possibly need is at your fingertips. Stick blender? No problem.
Icemaker on the fridge? Check.
And the bad? Everyone who walks past and stares in is so envious that you start to pretend the apartment is your house and that makes you never want to leave.
Wi-Fi? Fast and free.
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