After a leisurely breakfast at the Hilton Lake Taupo we headed to Wairakei Golf Club, a spectacular enclosed bird sanctuary and golf course. Scores were again low with everyone agreeing it was a fantastic and challenging course. Two of the ladies opted for an ATV adventure of their own before joining the golfers at the club for post round beverages.
The group stopped to see the magnificent Huka Falls on the way back in brilliant sunshine. Huka is formed where the Waikato River (NZ’s longest) squeezes between two narrow walls of volcanic rock, resulting in some 220,000 liters of water blasting by every second.Truly a memory even for those who had spent time at the world renowned Huka Lodge prior to the trip starting.
Members had some relaxation time to shop, enjoy the spa, thermal pools and resort before dinner. Dinner was at “Plateau,” a local pub and restaurant near the shore of Lake Taupo.
Members experienced a leisurely private catamaran cruise on Lake Rotoiti. Eight kilometres in length and three kilomoters wide at its widest, the lake was glassy smooth all day. After a wonderful lunch on board in a secluded cove we donned swimsuits and stopped at the southern end of the lake for a dip in geothermal hot springs, only reachable by boat. To cool off, some of the group proceeded to slide into the lake itself!
We concluded the day with a private dinner in a suite at the Hilton, hosted by the good people of Mana Luxury Golf Excursions. To the accompaniment of a local entertainer, further exploration of New Zealand’s wines took place. This was possibly the most relaxing and enjoyable social day of the trip so far.
After breakfast in Lake Taupo we headed to Cape Kidnappers, a World Top 100 course. Vistas across Hawkes Bay toward Napier with holes perched atop near vertical cliffs more than 700 feet above the ocean stunned us all. With less than a one-club wind the conditions could not have been better but the course proved to be the hardest we have played yet. While there were lots of birdies, stories of shots that plunged all the way down to the ocean were plenty.
What a joy to connect with fellow Camp members Neil & Claudia D who are in country with friends from Monterey. Their path crosses with ours again on the 3rd when we will play former Top 100 course, Paraparaumu Beach GC, with them.
A short flight to Wellington and a welcome cocktail hour at the Amora hotel was followed by an open night where members walked to their own dining choice.
Today was a day exploring multiple aspects of Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. Some of the group gathered in the morning to head out on the Zest Food Tour of what is affectionately referred to as New Zealand’s “culinary, cafe and coffee capital.” Wellington is said to have more cafes and restaurants per capita than New York, and boy did we get a look at some good ones today! Stops included a coffee roasting house, a gelato shop, a gourmet grocery store, a chocolate shop, a peanut butter manufacturer … all with samples of course … followed by a fantastic lunch on the waterfront of Wellington Harbor. All agreed it was a wonderful way to spend the day and see much of Wellington, even with overcast skies and occasional precipitation.
Of course, being Super Bowl Sunday, some of the group managed to split off and find the game on pub televisions, enjoying cheering amongst fellow Yanks (and some Kiwi fans) as the game ticked down to the final seconds.
Following lunch, others made a quick jaunt over to Cuba Street for a look at some art galleries and shops, and we even managed to catch filming of a New Zealand anti-smoking public service announcement.
One last tourist stop for the day: Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. While time was short, we were aided by a guide who honed in on some explanations of New Zealand’s tectonic origin as well as a pretty thorough discussion about Maori history.
Back to the hotel for a Maori group dance and song presentation, which included a happy birthday song for Barbara B. (Does she get to celebrate her birthday two days in a row since there’s such a time difference between the U.S. and New Zealand?)
Dinner was leisurely dining at Dockside, which as its name suggests, was dockside!