vegasFrom the Kiwi provincial delights of dining at the both very good Hopgoods (extremely generous portions) and Boathouse (delicious whitebait) in Nelson, interspersed by the big breakfasts at Fords and the comfortable, character-filled Monaco Hotel, along with an extremely interesting tour of the genuinely boutique - where even I liked the beer - we flew to Las Vegas.

Well, why not have a bit of variety in your week?

Helen is heading to a few months of study in Belgium, so we callously left Thomas to face a calculus test in Wellington alone (well, we did promise him the tee-shirts!), to help her take in Vegas and New York on the way, calculating it had been at least fifteen years between visits to either.

casinoEverything indeed, is bigger than Texas in Las Vegas, and it had changed a lot since our last visit.

As well as even more fabulous glittering neons, Disneyland seems to have spilled out of the theme park concept and into Las Vegas Boulevard, with a huge pirate ship outside The Treasure Island Hotel, and a Grand Canal complete with gondolas, running through and outside the very opulent Venetian Hotel, which was also running its own version of Carnevale.

Why not build an Eiffel Tower further down the road? Gosh, some of Europe's delights all in one place! Have money, will build. That concept definitely applied to the abundant number of huge hotels. One taxi driver told us that 8 billion dollars was being spent on another new place.

poolWe enjoyed our stay at The Wynn Hotel, which between that and its attached sister abode, The Encore, offer a mere 5,000 rooms - plus a country club and golf course, in case people need a break from the huge number of gambling tables, gaming machines, super-sized pool (where there are plenty of sun loungers and they generously give you two huge towels), restaurants, spa, and Ferrari showroom, along with other high end retail experiences.

'No Smoking' does not exist around the casinos here, with ashtrays offered along with free drinks.

Be careful where you leave your husband, as not only do men in green tee-shirts emblazoned with 'Girls, girls, girls' openly hand him pamphlets on the sauna-temperatured streets, but when left alone for about three minutes by the shops heading into the hotel foyer, a pretty young thing sidled up to him to enquire 'was he lonely tonight?'.

foodDining experiences vary. Two stone crab, lobster and shrimp experiences involved defrosted tasteless numbers, smothered in sweet thin sauces - and the breakfast buffet was an experience in fatty indigestion. Nobu was noisy, expensive and OK overall - the best dishes being the black cod and the Kobe beef dumplings - but oddly located in the dated, downmarket Hard Rock Hotel. The Las Vegas version of Thomas Keller's 'Bouchon' in The Venetian offered good garlic snails, onion soup, gnocchi and boudin blanc.

The highlight of this visit was the enjoyable Cirque du Soleil show 'Love'. Six others were also playing at various hotels there and 'O' came the most highly recommended, but was not playing the nights we were there - and if you ever wondered what happened to Donny and Marie Osmond, who I had not given a thought to since the 70's (some of you won't even know who they are of course!), well, there they are, tweaked by plastic surgery, pictured on a huge billboard proclaiming them somebody's version of 'best show in Vegas' playing at The Flamingo.

No time to go to find Elvis, or The Mob, but everything seems to be on offer in Vegas - we only saw the tip of it.