Huka Lodge – If it’s good enough for the Queen…
Even if you were the world’s most indolent person, impossible to prise from the crisp linens, copious pillows and merino throws in the rooms at Huka Lodge, you could fantasise about adventures on the Waikato River. Most of the rooms have views from the bed of the fast flowing waterway, including mine, referred to by staff as The Queen’s Room.
Yes, among the many royalty, celebs and other splurgers who’ve visited, Her Maj Queen Liz the second has stayed at this luxer-than-luxe resort on New Zealand’s north island. She had the whole resort to herself but if you were say, The Spice Girls, you could rent out the self-contained four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage as long as, say, Ginger and Scary were prepared to share a bed. The two bedroom Alan Pye cottage, also fully self-contained and named for the property’s original owner, is another option for people wanting to avoid rubbing shoulders with other guests in the common lounge areas.
Not that there’s anything less than convivial about those common areas. With gorgeous interiors designed by New Zealander, Virginia Fisher, these comfortable rooms are where guests gather pre and post dinner for drinks, canapés, cheese and petit fours. The mood throughout the Lodge is set with flattering lighting, gallery status art works and lust worthy furnishings and textiles.
Guests just wanting to unwind can happily lurch from bed to breakfast to massage or have a languid dip in one of the heated pools. The 17 acres of gardens, deemed of national significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust, are a mix of manicured lawns, precision-cut hedges, Gertrude Jekyll inspired plantings and forested, ferny glades. There are no strenuous inclines but, even so, there are tiny private courtyards dotted here and there with fireplaces, shawls and staff to bring reviving beverages.
We walked the Waikato River spa thermal track, which at 45 minutes, one way, is good if you’re after light exertion. The quiet trail is fringed with the country’s national symbol, the silver fern, its reflective fronds lighting the night path home for local Maoris in the past. Thermal pools trickle into the crystalline water creating steamy patches, though doing little to warm the overall temperature of the river.
As we approach the falls at the end of the track the quiet is engulfed by the roar of crashing water. The prospect of kayaking through this rocky washing machine fills me with horror but hardcore, possibly insane, adventurers do it regularly. It’s one of the activities the Lodge offers with partner operators who also arrange helicopter rides, hiking, golf, horse riding and trout fishing. Those wanting to go it alone can borrow a rod from the Lodge and either don the chunky waders to try fly fishing or just give it a shot from the river bank.
Whether you’ve slothed or hiked you’ll definitely be wanting dinner. Chef Paul Froggat, with a Michelin star studded CV, serves a different five-course degustation every night included in the tariff. It’s an impressive, fine dining affair which, he says, some guests tire of after a few nights when he’s happy cook them something simple like a steak.
The wine list is a stellar offering of New Zealand’s best with a smattering of choices from the old world, a few from Huka’s partner property on a vineyard in South Africa and a French-dominant bubbles selection. Then after a nightcap in the library, sleep in those crisp sheets beckons.
- Address: 271 Huka Falls Road, Taupo 3377, New Zealand
- Telephone: + 64 7 378 5791
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.hukalodge.co.nz
*The writer was a guest of Huka Lodge and Air New Zealand