If a glorious lakeside holiday break is what you’re after this Christmas, Rotorua has plenty of options on offer and some of the best are on and near Lake Tarawera.
Why this particular lake over the 17 others in our region? There are several reasons, but perhaps the main reason is because of the proximity and ease to Rotorua’s city centre while you’re still very much immersed in natural surroundings, native bush and one of New Zealand’s largest lakes.
A luxury lodge
Solitaire Lodge, pictured above and at top, is a premiere luxury lodge perched on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Tarawera. Although just under 30 minutes from the Rotorua city centre, and the same from Rotorua Airport, Solitaire feels a million miles away. The only road to the lodge isn’t heavily travelled, making it private and quiet. Alternatively, you can arrive via helicopter straight onto the property’s own landing pad, or cruise up to Solitaire’s jetty on a chartered boat.
This Qualmarked property offers beautiful views over the lake. Lush natural bush and volcanic landscapes provide the backdrop, with the nine suites designed to bring the outdoors in. You’ll be encouraged to relax, unwind and soak it all in, but when you feel like getting out amongst it, the options are vast.
For example, take a 15-minute private launch excursion to soak in the lake’s natural hot springs. Or combine the thrill of a Volcanic Air heli tour with an awe-inspiring walk along the summit of Mt Tarawera (pictured above) and a through the geothermal wonderland of Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park.
Along the way, you’ll enjoy breath-taking vistas of the mountain’s 17km rift, 65-metre-tall Tarawera Falls, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, mountain ranges and beyond.
GlampingPicture yourself settling in each night, upon a queen-size bed, in a large private tent, drifting off to sleep to the sound of the lake gently lapping at your own secluded beach. Nestled into the edge of native bush and along the lake’s shore is Kanuka glamping (above) site, operated by Totally Tarawera on secluded Department of Conservation land.
Kanuka has everything you’ll need, including camp kitchen, dining area and bathroom, for a very comfy stay.
Access is only by water taxi (also provided by Totally Tarawera), which is included, or you can walk in and/or out, which takes most people about three hours. You can also pre-order breakfast or dinner hampers if you prefer not to pack your own food.
By day, there’s plenty to do here, such as swimming in the crystal-clear lake, canoeing around the bays, fishing for trout, and walking the 1.5-hour Tarawera Trail to the natural Hot Water Beach for a luxurious soak. After sundown, look for glow worms at night in the bush surrounding you.
A holiday homeIf you’re after that home-away-from-home feeling, you can choose one of the many holiday homes overlooking or with direct access to the lake.
Spencer Lodge, pictured above, is a luxury lodge-style holiday home ensconced in 18 acres of farmland, landscaped gardens, and native bush. Tranquillity and total privacy awaits. However, if you like a bit of company, there’s loads of space to invite your friends over, cook up a feast in the large kitchen and the BBQ on the deck, and relax in the hot tub. Four bedrooms with king-size beds and spectacular views offer lots of space for guests to stay.
Another great spot to chill is at Tarawera Views, an architecturally designed five-bedroom home perched on the hillside with native bush behind and the lake and views of Mount Tarawera out front. The view from the master suite upstairs is phenomenal, while the expansive lower level also affords panoramic views and a wrap-around deck for loads of space for entertaining.