Huka Lodge – If it’s good enough for the Queen…

Huka Lodge (Photo: Huka Lodge)

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.

Library dining room at Huka Lodge (Photo: Huka Lodge)

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.

Huka Lodge

*The writer was a guest of Huka Lodge and Air New Zealand

5 thoughts on “Huka Lodge – If it’s good enough for the Queen…”

  1. Philip Putnam says:

    I stayed at Huka lodge some years ago. As the sun set I stood on the bank of the river with a glass of beer.
    I wondered why other guests hadn’t followed me outside. I raised the glass to my lips and noticed I was
    sharing it with the five or six European wasps perched on the lip. Too late, one stung me and I fell in the river. Apart from that, a wonderful place.

  2. Stephanie Clifford-Smith says:

    Hi Mark, all the prices are on the website and dinner is included in the tariff.

    1. Mark Hubbard says:

      Sorry, didn’t see site down bottom.

      It’s not, actually, too bad (Geoff!). The escape for two (because I’d have to take Pauline 🙂 ) is only just over $1,300 for two nights in winter (best time to go I reckon), or just over $2,000 in summer. There’s a lot included in that price. We’ve been looking for domestic escapes this winter, but never thought of Huka (albeit, heard of it plenty, just not on the radar as we live in the Sounds): big possibility next year.

  3. Mark Hubbard says:

    I know you can’t afford to go if you have to ask (& we tend to save our money for wine), but what’s the price range for a night for a couple? Average price for mains and desserts on a night meal?

    1. Geoff Garratt says:

      Too much for mere mortals, Mark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *