After our stay at the Hilton Auckland, we drove south towards the central part of the north island of New Zealand. We had another opportunity to use points for a stay, at another crisp new Hilton property. We stayed 2 nights at the Hilton Lake Taupo. This is a category 5 property, so it cost 35,000 points per night. This hotel opened as the Hilton in late 2009, built around the historic Terraces Hotel, originally constructed in 1889. It has already won some awards. It was named "Best new hotel in Australasia" in 2010.
Taupo is primarily a tourist town, with the country's largest lake and some national parks nearby. There is also a lot of volcanic and geothermal activity in the area. Its centrally located on the north island, with easy access to activities on the lake and in nearby mountains. We visited Huka Falls, which was just outside of Taupo. While not a particularly tall waterfall, up to 220,000 liters of water per second flows through (almost 60,000 gallons).
Huka Falls, in Taupo
As for the hotel itself, again we were fortunate to be provided a nice upgrade at check in. Despite the "deluxe" name which often means nothing compared with a standard room, this room was larger than most, and located in the heritage wing, which is the structure of the original Terraces Hotel. Our room had a large balcony and a great view of Lake Taupo and the mountains beyond.
The room itself had a large wrap-around balcony.
The doors on the left lead to the bathroom, right by the tub. I guess one could climb out of the tub onto the balcony if that's your thing.
'Front' balcony facing the entry drive, with the main hotel entrance beyond.
The room itself was quite spacious for a standard room, with very high ceilings.
Deluxe King room in the Heritage wing
Well stocked closet with robes and slippers
What I found most unique was the bathroom. It was large, with a separate bath and a large double shower. It seemed like there was extra space when completing the renovations, and they just made the shower huge. It was nice, but a double sink would probably have been more useful.
The giant shower. 2 hand-held shower heads, and a rain shower head on the ceiling.
I don't know what all was done in converting the Terraces hotel to the Hilton, but other than a somewhat weird layout, I wouldn't have known that the building was so old. Its clean, fresh, and quite modern. It seemed like there were a few corporate outings going on during our stay, and it certainly would be a nice place for that, with the great setting, and the hotel appeared to have a lot of meeting room space.
This view from the back side of the Heritage wing showing the lush grounds plus the more modern wing. The building in the background is the fitness center which is near the pool area.
Breakfast was included with our stay. In this case, only the cold items were complimentary. Breakfast was served in the on site restaurant, called Bistro Lago.
Cereal and juice bar, clearly at the end of breakfast, with juice selections running low.
While staying in Taupo, we made a day trip to Rotorua, about 50 miles away. Rotorua is another tourist center, also notable for its geothermal activity, with hot springs, geysers, and mud baths. There is a lot of Maori heritage in the area as well. We visited the Rotorua Museum, which had some interesting exhibits on the history of the baths, the Maori culture, and and interesting exhibit on Maori army units recruited from the area in WWII.
steam vent in Rotorua
Rotorua Museum in the Government Gardens, previously site of the Rotorua Bath House, one of the first tourist sites in New Zealand.
Rotorua was an interesting place, and worth a visit, but the continuous sulfur smell was a little overpowering.
The Hilton Taupo is a nice new hotel with easy access to various activities on the north island. If you are visiting the area, and want to redeem Hilton points, I don't think you can go wrong staying here. Its a great location, and I was treated very well as a gold even when staying points.
After our stay in Taupo, our journey continued further south, towards Wellington, a fun university town and the national capital.