288km or an anatomically retentive 4h 1m from Auckland down SH1 and SH27, if you follow Google. Unfortunately we followed the rental car GPS through the scenic backroads of Karapiro, roadworks around Pukeatua, the rear end of a 60km/h logging truck and Tokoroa's too-often ignored suburbs. When we arrived we were more than ready for ...
Check-in experience: Welcoming smile, inquiries and suggestions about our touristic plans and the choice of full-fat or trim milk for tea/coffee.
Room: Superior motel with tiny balcony and glimpse of the lake. Coffee, tea, toaster and fridge; 50in Sky TV. Generously sized, comfortably furnished, scrupulously maintained. Parking at the foot of the stairs.
Price: $195 for this Lakeview Suite. Studios, two and three-bedroom suites also available.
What's so good about this place? Hey, I'm a travel writer. You're not getting the joys of Taupo in one paragraph when I can get paid for 1500 words.
And the bad? Hey, I'm a travel writer ...
What's in the neighbourhood? It's just off the main drag on a wide, quiet suburban street, 200m from the lake or five minutes' walk from the town centre. Good licensed Four Square and a nice cafe, just across the road.
Toiletries: What you need and expect — soaps, shampoos, good supply of towels.
Food and drink: Tourist town, so every store that isn't a homeware or souvenir shop is a cafe. The room service breakfast menu has all the usuals but the best option is health and heaven in a glass. The Boysenberry Blast starts with muesli, slides into yoghurt and descends into .. yep, boysenberries. Some may consume it layer by layer. Free radicals may whip the constituent parts into a glorious mess of textures and flavours.
The bed: Someone on TripAdvisor said: "So comfortable ... first time I've ever slept the whole night in an unfamiliar bed." I'm a travel writer. I hate TripAdvisor. They were right.
Bathroom: Large, clean, the usual, PLUS a spa bath. Perfect for unwinding after a relaxed morning of mountain-biking around the local trails or a strenuous afternoon bathing in the town's, er, many spa baths. If I were picky I'd suggest adding a shaving / makeup magnifying mirror.
Noise: In the morning, my neighbour apologised for TV-bingeing at 3am. Didn't hear a thing.
Free wi-fi? Yes.
Recreation: Free access to Body Worx Gym, a five-minute drive into town.
Perfect for: They say "family holiday, romantic getaways or business travel". Pretty much covers it.
The Beechtree Suites are at 56 Rifle Range Road, Taupo. Phone: 0800 233 248.