Found in the stunning emerald North Island of New Zealand, The Solitaire Lodge sits with panoramic views of the glassy lake and nearby Mount Tarawera and is one of the best places to stay in New Zealand.
You could come here and simply relax and gaze at all the natural splendour with a cold cocktail (very tempting) until you feel completely rejuvenated.
Or, you could get involved in a gaggle of outdoor experiences, including trout fishing, helicopter trips (there’s a heliport on the lawn), hiking, swimming, massages and a whole lot of other activities nearby, such as Waitomo glow worm caves, Wai-O-Tapo Thermal Wonderland and Hobbiton.
As we arrived, rather worn out after a days fun, we were welcomed warmly by the owners of the Solitaire Lodge and given a quick and cheerful tour.
There’s big squashy comfortable seating everywhere and giant windows enjoying the most exquisite views.
The lodge sits on a finger of land that is surrounded on 3 sides by the lake. So all the lodges, the communal areas and the gardens have stunning views of sparkling waters.
This is our Lodge view from the huge open plan living space and balcony.
Andy and Charlotte opted for a quick kayak, eager to see the lake close up.
James and I waved from the balcony, freshly showered after a jet lagged doze on the impossibly deep sofas.
Time flew by and soon we were dressed up for our evening meal.
It’s Autumn here, so it was lovely to enjoy the glow of the fireplace in the lounge.
The owner explained the painting above the mantlepiece, showing the famous Pink and White Terraces formed nearby, by thermal water in this highly thermal and volcanic area. They were considered the 8th wonder of the world. Sadly, in 1886 it was devastated by an enormous hydrothermal eruption. But then the lake was formed, so you know, swings and roundabouts.
We were treated to some tasty amuse-bouch as we sipped our cocktails.
They were super tasty. Very well done indeed and we were feeling very well looked after.
We were guided to our table in the dining room, chatting mainly about Hobbiton (we’d been there that morning and were still rather excited) and what our plan was tomorrow – sooo many options!!
So while munching flavoursome plant pot bread we bounced around all our favourite ideas.
Our first course arrived Chickpea and Courgette Fritter, Labneh (strained Greek yogurt), Eggplant Pickle, Dates.
This was followed by a super refreshing Lime Sorbet that woke us all up out of jet lag with a sweet zingy hit.
Followed by the mains. Andy chose the New Zealand Blue Cod Fillet, Anna Potato, Cauliflower, Ratatouille, Beurre Noisette.
I enjoyed this fantastic Braised Pork Belly, Pork Fillet, Apple, Baby Carrots, Fennel, Pommes Dauphine, Calvados Jus.
Dessert was a gooey chocolate and raspberry affair and was greatly enjoyed by all. Belgium Chocolate Cake, Orange Mousse, Raspberry.
We took a slow stroll back to our lodge for a night passed out, dreaming of Middle Earth, Kayaks and chocolate desserts.
Andy woke bright and breezy, grabbed a camera and caught the morning mist float above the dark lake water.
Now fully awake and ready for the day we made it to breakfast, greeted by warm smiles and smells of freshly baked bread.
We joyfully tucked into the colourful plates of fruit that sat so pretty on the table, whilst we placed our cooked breakfast order.
The bread, hot out of the oven was prepared for us and looked healthy with quinoa and seeds. Served with delicious jams and steaming coffee.
I chose the English Breakfast (with incredible local sausages). This was a great breakfast.
Full and satisfied, we were ready for an action packed morning and head for the Lodge jetty.
Andy grabs a couple of Kayaks for James and Charlotte while the motor boat is prepared for us.
A gentle guide on how to best board a kayak,
and off she goes with an extra hand from Dad.
Now James’s turn,
he’s off in no time!
All aboard, we set off after the kids who have taken to it like a couple of ducks.
The views on the lake are breathtaking especially when the sun peaks out to kiss the rolling hills.
We keep near the edges as advised, and make for the pass through the thick carpet of reeds.
We can see the great spot the Solitaire Lodge enjoys from the water.
Andy is having an absolute ball. He loves being on the water, ‘tho’ rarely gets the chance so is enjoying every minute of buzzing round the vastness of lake Tarawera.
Letting Charlotte and James catch up for a moment,
before blasting off again.
After a long while enjoying the experience we head back and tie the boat back onto the jetty.
James approaches but has another idea forming as he checks the depth of the lake. It’s so clear you can see the bottom.
Always a cool as a gin and tonic, he gets himself back on firm land.
Then, while I’m photographing these poetic looking black swans…
James decides to join them!
It’s super cold so you can only stay in for a few minutes, but my James always enjoys a challenge and we all grin and clap.
Dry, warm and with tummies rumbling, our wonderfully kind and accommodating hosts have laid our table outside for us to enjoy.
Another delicious and healthy sounding menu.
It’s a chance to send friends and family a few snaps,
and to just feel blissfully happy to be there.
We all started with a slice of this beautiful Lodge Made Bruschetta which was incredibly tasty.
Lodge Made Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli, Vine Ripened Baked Tomatoes, Hawkes Bay Olive Oil, Pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano, with perfectly thin pasta and (like every dish here) loaded with flavour.
Solitaire’s Caesar Salad, Crisp Cos Lettuce, Free Range Bacon and Poached Egg, Croutons, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Caesar Dressing. This was exactly what I needed, totally hitting the spot.
Finishing off this fantastic lunch we enjoyed a yummy cup of coffee and some of the longest biscotti I’ve ever seen!
Sad to be leaving and thanking our hosts for all their kindness, we have to leave.
Put this place on your bucket list, add it to your ‘places to visit’ Pinterest board and somehow make it happen, you will love it. I promise!
As we head off for more adventures, you can not help but fall in love with this beautiful land, this Middle Earth.
PIN this straight to your Pinterest page!!
Another exceptional place to stay is the Huka Lodge, New Zealand.
Things to do in New Zealand
Huka Falls (video)