As we do almost every year, we decided to take our summer holidays in mid January when we knew the weather would be a bit nicer and after many people had gone back to work. Taupo is a really popular summer holiday destination, and we knew it was jam packed with visitors after our trip down for Christmas, so making the decision to wait a few weeks to return was a good one (and meant that our favourite spots weren’t full of people!).
We tried to visit the Aratiatia Dam a couple of times to see them release the water, but we missed the dam opening both times. Regardless, it’s a beautiful spot to visit and parts of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug were filmed over these rapids, which is pretty cool.
The plan was to spend as much of our time in Taupo swimming in the lake as possible, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t really playing ball. On the days it wasn’t raining the lake was pretty rough and it was quite windy, but we made the best of the situation and braved the water anyway. Every summer I seem to forget that the lake is a lot colder than the ocean (made even more so by the fact that I could see snow on top of Mt Ruapehu, I’m sure!), so if you’re planning on swimming in Lake Taupo it might be worth investing in a swimsuit with more coverage – I’m thinking a rash vest might be a good decision. Both my partner and our teenager have rash vests and that gives them an extra layer of warmth.
The weather meant we ended up spending a lot of time inside playing Uno and Phase 10. Phase 10 a new game for me, but I quickly got in to it and we got very competitive – if you’ve never played before, it’s kind of like Rummy.
On the Thursday we dropped the teenager off to stay with one of his friends for a couple of nights, and Doug and I headed to Rotorua. We wanted to soak in the pools at the Polynesian Spa, which we visit every time we are in Rotorua, and this time we booked a private spa (this is the package we booked). You can only book the private spas for 30 minutes but you get a great view out over Lake Rotorua with a bit of privacy to enjoy it (and clothing is optional in there so if you want to go nude then you can). After our time was up, we went out into the main pool area which is adults only to soak for a couple of hours (there is a separate part of the facility that is suitable for families).
That night we headed up the Skyline Gondolas to Stratosphere Restaurant, which we had spotted on our trip last year but didn’t manage to fit into our itinerary. They have the most amazing buffet, with all kinds of options – and everything that is gluten free is clearly marked! I didn’t take any video footage up there because I’m a bit of a shy vlogger and didn’t want to whip my camera out at dinner, but the food was delicious and the view of the sun setting over the lake was lovely.
The highlights of the trip for me were definitely the parts that involved swimming – both Lake Taupo and the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua were wonderful, and I can’t wait to go back!
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Have you been to Taupo or Rotorua before?
What are your must visit places in New Zealand?