Tag Archives: Vacation

Just Paradise – Kuaotunu, Coromandel

Where: Just Paradise, Kuaotunu West, Coromandel, New Zealand

When: February 2006 and March 2007

Who: Extended family

Why: Check out the gallery and you’ll see why… this place really is “Just Paradise”. My husband proposed to me here!

Accommodation Details: Just Paradise is a beautiful two-story, 5 bedroom holiday home that sleeps 10. There are 4 bedrooms on the lower level and a large loft upstairs. The kitchen is large and functional, with all the conveniences of home. The adjoining open-plan dining and lounge area are comfortable and will easily accommodate larger groups. The view is magnificent: guests look out over the saltwater, solar-heated infinity pool to Rings Beach and beyond.

The owners live in separate quarters upstairs; however, the holiday accommodation is still completely private and you won’t even know your hosts are on the premises.

Things To Do:

Gallery: Click on a thumbnail to enlarge picture and view description.

The Verdict:

Kuaotunu is a little off the beaten track, while still being handy enough to Whitianga and Coromandel Town. It is also an ideal starting point for exploring other parts of the Coromandel Peninsula such as Hot Water Beach, Hahei and Cathedral Cove. It’s safe, white sandy beaches are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and fishing. It truly is paradise here, which is why we’ve stayed twice and intend to stay again!

Helpful Links: Mercury Bay Online; Coromandel Regional Information; Tourism Coromandel;


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Filed under Coromandel, Holiday Homes, North Island

Pohutukawa Lodge – Lake Tarawera, Bay of Plenty

Where: Pohutukawa Lodge, Lake Tarawera, Rotorua, New Zealand

When: 8 – 11 February 2008

Who: 4 families… and one lone Canadian tag-along. .. 9 adults in total.

Why: Family vacation at a beautiful location with good fishing… with the goal of  impressing my Canadian uncle.

Accommodation Details: Pohutukawa Lodge is a three-bedroom house and two-bedroom sleep out at Lake Tarawera.  The house is tastefully furnished, with a modern open-plan kitchen/dining/lounge area and fantastic views of the mountain and lake. The upstairs’ master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and a balcony that enjoys the same view. The sleepout is fairly dated and you do need to negotiate moderately-steep steps up the side of the hill to get to it, but that’s just fine if you consider how reasonably-priced this accommodation is. In my opinion $210/night (for 9 people) is extremely reasonable, especially when the house is so modern and comfortable; and if your group numbers are 7 or under  ($170/night), then you will have no need to use the sleepout at all.

Access to the lake is just a short walk away, there is a  reserve in front of the house, and the Otumutu boat ramp is only minutes away. The double garage is available for guests to use and has kayaks, mountain bikes, and table tennis table also for guests’ use.

This property is beautifully presented, has great views, and is an absolute bargain!

Things To Do:

Gallery: Click on a thumbnail to enlarge picture and view description.

The Verdict: Lake Tarawera is a holiday destination that I intend to revisit over and over again. It ticks all my holiday-requirement-boxes in terms of tranquility and natural beauty. It’s far enough away from Whakatane to feel like a real holiday, yet close enough to warrant going for just a couple of nights. And no doubt I will holiday again at Pohutukawa Lodge, perhaps with another young family the next time around.

I highly recommend Lake Tarawera and give equally ‘high props’ to Pohutukawa Lodge!

Helpful Links: The Landing Lake Tarawera; Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve; Rotorua; Destination Rotorua ; Pohutukawa Lodge

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Filed under Bay of Plenty, Holiday Homes, North Island

Riverside Retreat – Martinborough, Wairarapa

Where: Riverside Retreat, Martinborough, New Zealand

When: 10 July 2007 to 14 July 2007

Who: My husband & I

Why: Our New Zealand winter honeymoon

Accommodation Details: Riverside Retreat is a self-contained circular arch house a little off the beaten (farm)track, though still convenient to Martinborough and all the Wairarapa region’s attractions. The property’s hillside site boasts the most amazing view of the South Wairarapa Valley and Plains, Ruamahunga River and Tararua Ranges. As far as romantic retreats and I go… if it don’t got a view, then it don’t get considered… and let me tell you, the view from Riverside Retreat rates way up there!

The kitchen (where I discovered the mighty Zyliss canopener and the joy of cooking on a gas hob) is fully equipped and stocked with continental breakfast supplies.

The upstairs’ bedroom has an ensuite bathroom (toilet, shower and bath); and I know I’m going on about the view, but the outlook from the shower is nothing short of spectacular. A comfortable bath pillow and scented bath gel were thoughtfully provided.

In the downstairs’ lounge there is a television and audio equipment, as well as an impressively furnished bookshelf. There is also a small upstairs’ living area and a downstairs’ queen bedroom with ensuite.

Things To Do: Well… the focus for us was eating, drinking and being merry; so if you are like-minded, then you’ve come to the right place.

Gallery: Click on a thumbnail to enlarge picture and view description.

The Verdict: Considering my overpowering need to hold the holiday-planning reins, so to speak, I think my husband did extremely well when he picked Martinborough as our New Zealand honeymoon destination. Likewise, I cannot fault Riverside Retreat as his choice of accommodation. I would love to come back here during summer to experience the food and wine festival atmosphere firsthand.

Helpful Links: MartinboroughNZ.com; Riverside Retreat; Destination Wairarapa;

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Filed under North Island, Wairarapa

Telegraph Hill Villas – Havelock North, Hawkes Bay

Where: Telegraph Hill Villas, Te Mata Hill, Havelock North, New Zealand

When: 4 January 2007 to 7 January 2007

Who: My husband and I

Why: A short romantic escape

Accommodation Details: Malcolm and I stayed at Telegraph Hill – a 17 acre olivery on Te Mata Hill – only three kilometres outside of Havelock North. There are two villas on the property, which are private and completely separated from one another and the hosts’ residence by olive trees.

We stayed in Villa One – the smaller and more intimate of the two villas. It sleeps two in a large queen bedroom; however, a portacot is available at no charge and would fit comfortably in either the bedroom or the lounge area. The kitchen is well stocked with the fixings for your first morning’s breakfast and plenty of condiments and pantry staples, including some of Telegraph Hill’s very own gourmet food product range. Next to Villa One is a floodlit astroturf tennis court for the night-time/evening tennis enthusiast. The hosts’ residence, a little further up the hill, has an infinity swimming pool available for guests’ use.

Telegraph Hill is an experience for all the senses: the feeling of the sun and breeze on your skin, the sound of the resident tui singing, the aroma of rosemary thick on the air, and of course the taste of good food enjoyed alfresco style while admiring the fantastic view from your hillside vantage point. Absolutely magic!

Things To Do:

Gallery: Click on a thumbnail to enlarge picture and view description.

The Verdict: In my humble opinion, a romantic retreat should be just that: a retreat from day-to-day life in order to spend time with your partner… so the less time spent away from the villa, the better! Relax in the sunshine, dine outdoors, and enjoy the stunning vista together. If that’s all you do, then you will go home revitalised and with very fond memories of your stay at Telegraph Hill Villas.

On the other hand, those of you who like to get out and about will not be disappointed with the activities on offer in and around Havelock North: visit the wineries and beaches, enjoy the cuisine, stop by one of the local produce markets, go shopping in the village, or even take a ride in a hot air balloon! The sky is the limit (excuse the pun!)

Helpful Links: Havelock North Visitor Information; Havelock North Web; Hawkes Bay Tourism

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Filed under Hawkes Bay, North Island

Freddie’s Place – Raglan, Waikato

Where: Freddie’s Place, Raglan

When: 27 Dec 2009 to 3 Jan 2010

Who: 3 young families and 3 sets of grandparents

Why: My extended family decided to holiday together over New Years 2010. It seems that no one in our group had visited Raglan on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island before… even more reason to go!

Accommodation Details: The main challenge was finding accommodation for all 16 of us under one roof. After many hours of surfing the net, I stumbled upon Freddie’s Place on the Holiday Houses website. It sleeps up to 15, and since one set of grandparents brought their motor home, it was big enough for our purposes. We bunked down in four bedrooms, but there is a fifth bedroom the owners will open up for an extra fee.

Freddie’s Place was at one time a backpackers and still has a communal toilet/shower block – 2 toilets, 2 showers and laundry area. This area was really convenient and coped with high-traffic during the nightly child-bathing regime.

Okay, so it’s not the flashy, boutique or quaintly cute accommodation I usually go for, but that wouldn’t have been practical for the large numbers involved or financially viable for the length of our stay. It is, on the other hand, extremely functional and comfortable and it has a decent-sized dining/lounge area and modern kitchen. The owners are helpful and friendly, but they give you plenty of privacy even though they live upstairs . Only the lower level of the house is rented out to holidaymakers.

Things To Do:

Gallery: Click on a thumbnail to enlarge picture and view description.

The Verdict: Raglan was a great family vacation choice. The township, while extremely compact, offered a good selection of cafes and the shops boasted an impressive range of fashion, local art and giftware. On the days that the weather didn’t cooperate (and the kids were getting cabin fever), Hamilton was just over half an hour’s drive away. On fine days, a visit to the beach and playgrounds was definitely on the agenda. The location of our accommodation meant that almost everything was within walking distance.

The only thing I can fault Raglan for is its gusty wind, which I suppose is necessary for the region’s great surf.

Helpful links: The Raglan Chronicle; Raglan Net; The Raglan Website

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Filed under Holiday Homes, North Island, Waikato