Winston Aldworth checks into Treetops lodge, Rotorua.


It's in Horohoro, which is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Rotorua.

What's in the neighbourhood? Stunning native bush and scrubland where deer roam . . . followed by rich foreigners who like to shoot them.


The room: We were in a Forest Villa; a secluded spot surrounded by native bush. The living space is dotted with comfy sofas set around a fabulous fireplace. Off to one side, there's a kitchenette, just next to the door leading to the giant bathroom.

Bathroom: A marbled expanse with a whopping, great spa bath and a vast, luxe shower. Take your time.

The light test: All the bulbs passed the patent-pending Aldworth-lightswitch test — meaning each light could be turned out by a switch easily located near the bulb. It's important, people . . .

The bed: As befits the room, it's big and extremely comfortable.

Exercise: Bring your hiking shoes. Straight out the front from the lodge, boardwalks lead to extensive walking tracks — a short stroll will get you to the picture-perfect Bridal Veil Falls, a full-day's effort will take you to distant ridgelines with stunning views. We did the latter and even turned back to successfully locate lost sunglasses.

There are mountain-biking trails and horse-riding treks if that's your thing. There's also a daily Maori Food and Heritage Trail, where the guide, Justin, shows guests how local iwi have made use of the plants in the bush for centuries.

Guests can join the estate manager's daily tour, where he jaunts around in a bouncy Land Rover pointing out the giant deer, the hunting of which draws in seriously rich visitors from around the world. It's a fascinating ride and gives a terrific insight into the running of the estate and the kinds of guests they get.

Food and drink: Settle in for pre-dinner aperitifs and canapes in the Great Room, the main entrance area, which leads into halls, lounges and grand alcoves where the antler-festooned walls and vast billiard tables speak of old-world passions. Leather armchair, anyone? These drinks are a great chance to mingle with other guests, chat to staff or stand about feeling grand.

We dined one night in the library. There are — as they say — many leather-bound books, also a pair of Redband gumboots signed by John Key.

The food, from the superb breakfasts, through to the packed lunches we take on our invigorating hikes and the elaborate dinners is compiled with Estate to Plate as the order of the day — meaning the meat and vegetables are sourced from the grounds. And it was fabulous dining.

Fellow guests: The core market is wealthy people from all over the world who fancy the hunting. Kinloch Manor and Villas, over on the shores of Lake Taupo, is a sister property and home to New Zealand's only Jack Nicklaus Signature course. There'll be guests stitching together a visit between the two properties. The best time for Joe Average Kiwi to get good deals at Treetops is winter and the spring shoulder season leading into summer.


Perfect for: A taste of high-end luxury close to home.