After our week in Marlborough in december 2010 i have decided it is about time to forgive New Zealanders but not forget their dastardly deeds of 2001.This trip had a history nearly as chequered as my proposed knee surgery.Originally it was going to be an upmarket mattress run by staying at the Westin AKL.Well that fell through though I did get a nice compensation of SPG points for the closing.
Our son had been seconded to the NZ government.Well we thought we will motor on down to the home of the Beehive and catch up.Of course things changed and his secondment was then to end with the NZ election-a month before we were there.So Plan C was hatched-a night at the Hilton Taupo to keep our HH points active until we are back in the states in November 2012.
So now to the organising.To make any sense this had to be award travel.First tried QFF via mrsdrron's account.Didn't mind if it was classic awards or JASAs.However all they could come up with was 1 BNE-SYD-AKL-SYD award.So I rang AA-again the BNE office-and they came through for us with 2 Aawards BNE-AKL-SYD in J.70000 miles for the 2.Had a bit of a scare when the E-ticket arrived with class-economy.However seats were 2A,C and checking with AA revealed no problems.
So the day comes and once again we set off with Tony in his limousine.Now we had allowed for the traffic which is heavy on the Bruce highway from ~ 0500-2400.Naturally there was hardly another car on the road so we had to wait 30 minutes for checkin to open.We lined up at the J checkin about 5 minutes before it was scheduled to open.As soon as we did pax came from everywhere to line up behind us much to the consternation of the lone agent at checkin.took a while to convince others that this was the business class queue.No problems for us.given priority access passes but that line was closed.actually because there was no one else there when we arrived at Immigration.
So on to security.Again BNE didn't let us down.Had to take my kindle out-now we had just finished a Circle Pacific trip with 4 LOTFAP airports + BNE domestic and had not had to do this as well as not having to do it since.Of to the lounge and we were the first into the F section.This meant no food was out.Obviously the woman out the back hears us and soon makes an appearance with the food.Then fell victim to the cr*p QF wifi which slowed to a crawl when another couple came in and logged on.Went to my Telstra modem and much better.
Next-up,up and away.
It was a surprisingly easy walk to the gate for me-no sign of the sciatica which had been dogging me for the last 4 months.Boarding no problems.Only 2 other pax in J.So why did QF have no award availability?Who cares,gracefully received my glass of champers before take off.Dinner was served pretty soon after.Started with a Salad of caprese and Prosciutto.Unusually for QF this was a good salad.
Picture looks a little like I had too much champagne!I then had the Spaghetti with Meatballs in Tomato Ragout-
Visually not much but tasted OK.mrsdrron had the Roast Chicken and Tarragon sauce-
A little bland but she soon cheered up when the Maggie Beer icecream with almond biscotti was served.both of us had the Nautilus SB to wash our meals down.Watched a Big Bang episode then the documentary about Ayrton Senna.Quite a story.The french really had it in for him.fortunately that finished just as the system was switched off.Once again virtually the furthest gate from Immigration.However once again nbo problems with sciatica and I could virtually keep up with mrsdrron.Then it dawned on me.That morning I had seen a local Neurologist for Nerve Conduction Studies.He had offered to write a referral to a Neurosurgeon to see about my sciatica with my spinal canal stenosis and L4 compression.It was from that moment I had no further trouble with the sciatica.I said to Mrsdrron was it psychosomatic.She replied no you are just psycho!
Through smart gate and to the baggage carousel.Now we are travelling light but still needed 1 bag of 16.8 KG.The 12 Business tagged bags(I presume some WPs on board) came out last.Seems like Kiwis are very much like australians.
As soon as we got our bag it was straight to the Novotel for the night.So convenient and very quiet.Review here-
http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...ort-34950.html (Novotel Auckland airport.)
Next-off to Taupo.
Tuesday and we began with a decent breakfast that was included in our rate.Then walked back to the terminal to the Avis desk-they dont have an avis Preferred board here but the agent was delightful upgrading us to an XR Sux.Well I thought it was an OK car and definitely didn't sux.Again this was booked through the Avis UK site at a considerable saving over the Australian site.In fact it turned out our fuel costs were greater thsan the car rental!Here is the beast in the Taupo Botanicsal gardens-
Mrsdrron is in the background taking much better photos than I which I am not allowed to use for this report.
This was not a great day.persistent rain alternating with showers.It was a very slow trip until past Hamilton.We stopped at Tokoroa and had a gourmet lunch at maccas-2 cappucinos and shared a ham,tomato and camembert pannini.It was fine.Then on to Taupo and walked around the town.Didn't recognise a thing from our last visit-but then that was 1976.There were a couple of highlights-
We then walked around the park near the lake.A nice rose garden-
As it would turn out this could well have been called a tour of North Island gardens.The next stop was the City's botanical gardens and the just about to finish rhododendron display.Still awesome to an old couple from the tropics-
Great views over the lake from here-
then it was off to the Hilton to check in.Review is Post 5 on this thread-
http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...tml#post526772 (Hilton lake Taupo- visit july 2010)
Was not our favourite Hilton even though upgraded to a junior suite as an HH gold.All king junior suites have no view.The bathroom is pathetic,the room stark and a distance from anything else.Down on the lake there were vacancies at an apartment place with a name that was vaguely familiar-Cove.Probably would have been better.
Next-a night on the town-yeh sure.
There was some kind of function at the Hilton so we went back into town and had our dinner at the Waterside Restaurant.Fairly typical tourist type restaurant where the wait staff were mostly backpackers.We asked the young woman serving us who answered in her delightful Irish voice-Sorry I only got here last week.However it turned out a lot better than our first impressions.The view is great-
Of course if the sun was out it would have been better.I had the lamb rack-
It really was very good,cooked to perfection.Mrsdrron had the salmon-
This also passed the taste test.With a bottle of Sav blanc came to $NZ102.Drron left sated and satisfied-
So it was back to the Hilton for a good nights sleep.Had their continental breakfast in the restaurant.It was OK but the fruit looked really tired.I would not touch the bananas or pineapple-brown is not a good look.At least staying at the Hilton it is easy to head for Napier-you are basically on Taupos edge.The highway to Napier is one to take slowly-especially with a little rain around.As well log and milk trucks are in abundance.However there are also many scenic spots to take in the view.Unfortunately when we passed it was mainly a view of the clouds.We drove out to Cape Kidnappers when we got to the Coast.Unfortunately no gannet tours-no one had booked and we were the only ones there.Then thought we would call into the Cape Kidnappers golf resort and see if we could have lunch there.Again no luck-the chain was up across the entry with the closed sign.Getting a bit like Tasmania.
So instead we drove to Havelock and Hastings.Looked around both,stopped at a couple of wineries and ended up having a late lunch at Vidal's Winery.It was very good and a reccomended stop if you are in the area.Didn't take the camera in but they have a website with menus and photos so you can check for yourself-
Vidal Winery Restaurant > Hawkes Bay, New Zealand | Vidal Estate
I had the venison sausages with roasted tomatoes,green beans,capsicum and olives.Really loved it.Mrsdrron had the pork belly with calamari and onions which she also thought was very good.With a glass of pinot gris and 1 of pinot noir(both good)it came to $NZ72.
We then drove back into Napier.We had not booked and our first 2 choices were full so ended up stopping at the Pebble Beach motel.Cost us $NZ145 for the night and was very comfortable.Review here-
http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...-nz-34951.html (Pebble Beach Motel,Napier,NZ)
You will notice from the pictures on that review that the sun had come out despite the forecast saying rain.
Next-More of Napier and off to Gisborne.
Thanks for the report, look forward to the rest. I too am staying at Pebble Beach at the end of the month. Looking forward to it.
I'm sitting here looking at Pebble Beach Motel right now! Across the road at the Crown Hotel Napier - nice, but beds aren't super comfortable though.
Off to Martinborough for 2 days tomorrow, then Wellington before heading home.
If anyone gets the chance, I definitely recommend detouring off the main highway between Taupo and Napier, and stay at Chateau Tongariro. Lots of lovely walks, and a hotel with old world charm. For $65 extra on the room rate (total of $65 for two of us) we did the 3 course set dinner (always a concern for me) but it was surprisingly good. They had 3 choices for entree, 4 for mains, and 3 for dessert. Drinks extra of course, and a short but good wine list. The long drive to Napier on the South road from Tongariro takes an hour more and is steeper/windy, but is worth it for the scenery.
Sent from my iPad using Aust Freq Fly app
After I left school I worked in NZ for the then Tourist Hotel Corporation (THC) at the Chateau and Milford Sound.
We recently went back for a look and the huge lounge area at the Chateau does not appear to have changed in all those years! (and I'm not telling you how many)
Enjoying your TR thanks drron.
We were also underwhelmed by the Hilton Taupo's breakfast which didn't even include cappuccino.
After checking in we looked around Napier after filling up-unleaded91-$NZ2.06 a litre and that was after the 8cents off voucher we had.However we liked Napier and can reccomend it as a base-interesting nearby places,lots of wineries and certainly seemed like lots of restaurant choices.There were also a few wineries with accommodation which would be another alternative.So just a few pictures of the Art Deco town-so known as a lot was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake.
A few more pics next.
We stopped at the Napier visitors centre then walked across the road and had a gelato before getting some takeaway from Thai Thai.We didn't feel hungry so got Pad Thai,mussaman beef and a small rice-$NZ40.and pretyy ordinary.much better was the sav.blanc we bought to get the fuel discount.We learnt that when in Marlborough first survey the wine prices in New World and Countdown as they often had the local wines at a lower price than the vineyard.Worked again here.So back to the pictures-
Thursday and we decided we might as well continue the NZ Great wine road so we headed north to Gisborne.Although this is up the coast the highway goes up and over several mountains.Winding-though not as bad as the secondary roads-and lots of traffic so often caught up in a slow moving line of traffic.Once again though quite scenic.We reached Gisborne about lunch time and had lunch at the Wharf restaurant.Nothing special but good food at a reasonable price.I had the fish and chips-
Mrsdrron the pork chops-
We teamed these with glasses of Brunton's road pinot gris and pinot noir.This is a local vineyard.Came to $NZ65.50.now a very nice woman serving us.i had a senior moment and left my camera behind.When i returned she came rushing out with it-impressed.We were going to visit some wineries but were told we could taste nearly all at the Gisborne Wine Centre also at the Harbour.
Next-more of Gisborne.
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