I have never stayed at a Kingsgate Hotel where I would not have been pleased with the generous size of the rooms, the well appointed bathroom and the neat furniture. The Kingsgate in Te Anau is no exception.
I would not call it a character hotel, it rather is a little soul-less, too big for my taste, it has no interesting architecture, and the restaurant has the charm of a waiting room at a railway station where I would surely not take breakfast. (And not the one in Dunedin!) Due to its size it accommodates tour bus groups. So we were very pleased to find ourselves in a two-storey side wing where more independent travellers like us were staying.
But say what you want: The rooms are just great. You can choose which bed configuration you want, and I chose two double beds for me and my friend. Despite the two big beds there was still enough space to dance in the room. There were two storage units for the luggage, for the suitcases on top and smaller bags underneath, so no-one had to climb over the luggage, and the units had two drawers each. There was also a useful wardrobe, an ironing board, iron, tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer.
Sky TV and good heating
We had two armchairs. A little coffee table would have been nice… There was a flatscreen TV (Sky TV) mounted on the wall, plus desk/fridge unit near the entrance door. (No filled minibar – which we found good because we had a chilly bin filled with our own good and drinks and only wanted the fridge.) The tasteful carpet looked rather new, and the electric heater on the wall worked very well during the chilly evenings.
The bathroom was also very spacious and even beautiful. Handwash basin and bathtub were ceramic, not the cheap plastic imitations you find everywhere in NZ, and the vanity even granite or marble, I do not really remember – but I remember that I knocked on it to test if it was good stuff and not just plastic ;-) The shower was over the bathtub.
The only thing I do not understand how they could install this cheap shower head. It was mounted to the wall, none of those nice adjustable rails – and the water sprayed in a circle, so not really where it was required. But the real minus was the difficult adjustment of the water temperature in the morning. Without warning the water pressure dropped, and when this happened you only got boiling water and could only save yourself by jumping a step fore- or backwards in the (slippery) bathtub. On signs they tell you to save water but I am sure I wasted water because first it took me ages to adjust the temperature and then I let the water run until it returned from boiling to hot water, and then it took so long to rinse the shampoo out of my hair because, as mentioned, the water goes against the shower curtain and the tiled walls but not over the person under the shower.
I reported the problem at the reception and asked them to have it checked, as it happens in hotels sometimes and can be dangerous.
Thin walls, problems with wireless internet access
Like so many hotels also this one has rather thin walls, so either you disturb your neighbours or they disturb you. I wish they had got up earlier on the day when I had set but not activated the 6am alarm ;-) (Lucky us I woke up 17 minutes later, so the trip to Milford Sound was not negatively affected.)
The wireless internet access was the next problem. My friend purchased a credit but at most times wireless did not work in the room, only in certain areas of the reception in the main building. On the last morning it did not work at all and we quickly went online at one of the two coin-operated hotel computers.
The young lady at the reception was very friendly but a little helpless when confronted with the internet problem. Given the big number of people staying at the hotel she had quite a stressful job – especially because an extraordinary number of people seem to think they do not have to wait until it’s their turn. You know, the ones that jump queues saying: “I only want to…” Or: “I only have…” And then keep the receptionist or shop assistant busy for the next five minutes. At least.
The location of the hotel is rather appealing, as it is right on the lakefront. However, you will struggle with great views of the lake, as the wide side of the hotel (where the restaurant is) is facing the lake and not the long side where the room windows are. It is about a ten minutes walk to the town centre. We were always faster because we raced, either because we were in a hurry or because it was cold. The carpark was always full, and if you succeeded to get a space and left it for two minutes only it was gone. So I parked along the road every night. This seemed very safe to me. I also had the impression there are less criminals operating than in other regions of NZ. I saw a lot less warning signs at carparks than anywhere else. Probably Te Anau is too remote, and as there is a lot of bus tourism people do most of their day trips with empty carboots, so car break-ins do not really pay off. Just an idea.
Great rates on Wotif
I chose to stay at the Kingsgate Hotel because it was cheap on Wotif, because it was at a quiet lakefront location (but really, nearly every hotel in Te Anau is at a quiet location…) and because I have made good experience with Kingsgate Hotels in the past. I would happily stay there again and hope that they have solved the shower problem.
There is no big difference between Standard and Superior rooms (we had a Superior), rates can vary. For the last week of March, for example, I get rooms from NZ$ 110 to 149. Obviously it can cost up to $ 200. On Wotif we got it for $ 100 per night.
Photos 2 and 3 show the interior of our room.
On photo 4 you see the bathroom.
Photo 5 shows the separate wing where we stayed.
Both Dorothy and Donald are very hospitable and engaging hosts. Their house is very cosy, and very clean.
They also used really comfortable sheets as I remembered my sleep there to be one of the best I had during my stay in New Zealand. Oh yeah, the electric blankets were very nice too!
Dorothy also makes a really excellent beef stew, but as they are after all a small operation, please do let her know way in advance if you have any special dietry requirements.
They also picked us up from our hotel, as well as drop us off at a convenient coach pick-up point during out stay there. What excellent service!
My friend and I paid about S$200 per room per night for a twin sharing room there.
The view is unparalled and the experience very interesting. Just don't expect to stay clean if you decided to participate (and you should) in the farm activities such as sheering sheeps' wool, feeding milk to the lambs, and following Donald around their vast farmland in his truck.
If you are not planning to camp overnight at the Fiordland, then you have to stay at Te Anau which is the last town before entering the National Park.
There are a lot of motels/hotels and the best is to get one with views of the nearby pretty lake. There are also a few hostels around.
Te Anau is cold in winter and even colder standing next to the lake. The kind lady at the gift shop told me that the temperature was about 0 to -1 degrees that day and sometimes gets even colder to -5 and -6.
I think on hearing the news, my face almost froze into a 'O'.
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