Hotel paradise found in Taupo
IT seemed a little bit out of place, walking in somewhere swanky like the Taupo Hilton and being immediately smitten with something as simple as the heated tiles on the bathroom floor.
It's just that it was such a stark contrast to my chilly Ponsonby villa, which is sometimes cooler inside than it is out.
The 24C warmth throughout our spacious fourth-floor apartment was equally awesome and I knew it was going to be hard to find a good enough reason to leave.
Arriving in Taupo at 9pm on a Friday night, having braved the 4pm rush on Auckland's Southern Motorway, we hadn't left enough energy or daylight to check out the Hilton's grounds, so we enjoyed an early night instead.
After waking on our own time, I wandered to the door delighted at not having to brave the chilly air for my weekly walk of shame to the letterbox in my pyjamas to get the Weekend Herald to read in bed.
On the way back to bed, I peeked out the window which revealed a panoramic view over a misty Lake Taupo to the cloud-covered Ruapehu beyond.
Below me, a man was stretching in the hotel driveway, post-run. A woman was walking briskly on the grass verge on the highway nearby. I felt guilty for not doing the same myself. Very briefly. I wanted to make the most of the toasty temperature.
Situated a five-minute drive from the town centre on the Napier Taupo Highway, the Hilton Taupo (formerly the historic Terraces Hotel, refurbished and reopened in November 2009) is an elegant but imposing building.
The lit-up grounds had wowed us the night before and we checked them out in daylight, walking down to see a man doing early morning laps in the heated pool.
We did a walk-through of the gym next door but thought we'd come back later.
Besides, knowing there was an adventure-packed programme looming the next day, with a jet-boat and helicopter ride, we were happy to keep things pretty chilled out. So, we went to the hotel's Bistro Lago, another of master chef Simon Gault's restaurants, for a coffee and some eggs to kick-start the day.
Usually the up-and-go sort of people, we got into town, considered the hole-in-one golf challenge as we went past and, like the gym, thought we'd do that later.
We didn't end up doing either.
After a quick stop-off to check out Huka Falls, knowing we would be looking at them 24 hours later from a jet-boat, we opted instead to stop by the supermarket. There, we each grabbed a magazine and snacks and headed back to the warm apartment to read and just do nothing at all. It was a treat not to have to go anywhere, see anyone, do anything.
Staff at the Hilton seemed disappointed when they found out we hadn't made more of the facilities.
But we didn't feel like we missed out on a thing.
The Hilton Taupo is offering its new Adventure Taupo package, which includes breakfast at Bistro Lago, a branded backpack stuffed with an energy bar, bottled water, energy drinks and a $30 voucher to use on the 80 activities with Experience Taupo. Package prices start from $235 per person or $280 for two people, depending on the accommodation type.