It wasn’t Italy but….

My wife and I had planned a trip to Italy, but work got in the way, so instead of a three week break it became one.

We decided on New Zealand – what a great choice! Only half a day from Adelaide and we were in Auckland, a harbour city
that is like a mini Barcelona. It’s harbour setting provides wonderful views, and with them comes great restaurants and a relaxed feel. We stayed at the recently redecorated Art Deco styled, Hotel de Brett one of the more interesting places we have stayed.

Hotel de Brett

Hotel de Brett

It’s not just

the great rooms, excellent restaurants, and great decoration that makes this a wonderful place, but the pre-dinner drinks in the library: full of books, CDs, and DVDs. A place where guests can relax and chat. On one of the nights, we had a fabulous conversation with the owners about how they had gone about the renovation and redecoration. There haven’t been many places where we have done that before!

From there it was on to a lodge just out of Rotorua. Set on the Lake Terawera, Solitaire Lodge

View of Lake Terawara from Solitaire Lodge

View of Lake Terawara from Solitaire Lodge

is secluded without being truly out of the way. Great hosts, amazing food cooked by the two resident chefs and a seemingly endless list of recommendations of places to see, one of which was White Island

To get to the Island we were picked up from the lodge by helicopter. We were flown across the lake with a short stop on top of an extinct volcano, where we had an uninhibited view in all directions. We could see to the coast on either side of the island. From there it was a fly over of the Terawera Falls, across the coast and a low pass over a pod of hundreds of dolphins before arriving at White Island

White Island is a live volcano complete with steam, noise and the pungent smell of sulphur making masks essential.

Helicopter view of White Island

Helicopter view of White Island

White Island - Complete with Crash Helmets

White Island – Complete with Crash Helmets

Thankfully the crash helmets we were also obliged to wear weren’t put to use! There were so many incredible sites as we walked to the craters edge, alongside steaming water pools and mud pools. Even better we had the island to ourselves. Just amazing and we thought better than Mt Etna!

Whilst White Island was the highlight, Rotorua, although a bit kitsch was worth the visit. The museum was intriguing. We also had a day trip to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

From the boat - Waimangu Volcanic Valley

From the boat – Waimangu Volcanic Valley

It’s a spectacular walk down through the valley which is a combination of hot springs, mud pools and a forest walk to the lake for a cruise. The cruise was a welcome break after a strenuous walk and a chance to see even more amazing sites. After the cruise we took a bus back up through the valley, which was not as spectacular but was certainly more relaxing!

On our final day at Solitaire Lodge our hosts recommended we walk to Terawara Falls.

The Falls

The Falls

We were taken by speed boat to a landing and then left to walk to the falls through the Forrest. Thundering water, tree lined paths and ponds where hundreds of trout were easy to see and catch if you were allowed! The falls were worth the walk. The water cascades out of the rock face – so spectacular. Then back to the landing to wait for our pick up. We were met with a thermos of hot chocolate and brownies – awesome!

The next day it was the not to arduous drive back to Auckland and another night at our new favourite hotel and then home.

It wasn’t Italy, but it was a wonderful week.

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We found both the Hotel de Brett and Solitaire Lodge using Tablet Hotels and Trip Advisor

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