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Located on the banks of the deep clear turquoise waters of the Waikato River on New Zealand’s central North Island, Huka Lodge enjoys a majestic natural setting. With its twenty luxurious Junior Lodge guest suites and two exclusive, multi-bedroom owners’ residences, the property set in privacy amidst seven hectares (17-acres) of beautifully manicured parkland.
Rated as one of the world’s most celebrated retreats, a stay here is to enjoy nature at its most beautiful with an abundance of activities on offer. On site, there are tennis courts, a pétanque terrain, cycling and croquet, with beauty and relaxation treatments offered in suite. Private tennis tuition and yoga can be arranged. Huka Lodge has a heated swimming pool and spa pools. Off site, there are aquatic adventures to be discovered including fly fishing, jet boating, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and white-water rafting. On land, there is hiking (including heli-hiking), mountain biking, golf and bungy jumping. For those who prefer to take to the skies, there is skydiving, gliding and amazing helicopter tours - to experience the stunning North Island scenery from the air. Not to be missed are the thunderous Huka Falls, just a short walk downstream or an opportunity to engage with local Māori culture.
Dining can be enjoyed in the cosy heritage surroundings of the main lodge or experienced in one of the Lodge’s unique dining locations dotted around the property, from the atmospheric Wine Cellar to the Orchard or Jetty Pavilion. Aperitifs, wines and cocktails can be enjoyed in The Bar at Huka Lodge or the Lodge’s Lounge.
Huka Lodge is nestled within a landscape of snow-capped peaks, wild tussock, lush forests and clear blue lakes and streams in the central North Island of New Zealand. Set on the banks of the Waikato River, the longest in New Zealand, the river flows over the spectacular Huka Falls a short distance north of the town of Taupō. Located on the north-eastern shore of Lake Taupō, New Zealand’s largest lake, Taupō is a centre of volcanic and geothermal activity and hot springs suitable for bathing are located at several places in the vicinity.
International flights come into Auckland Airport and a short, ten-minute walk will take visitors to the Auckland Domestic Terminal for the 45-minute flight to Taupō airport (there is a minimum of two Air New Zealand scheduled flights per day). The Lodge will provide complimentary transfers to and from Taupō the airport.
Or enjoy the scenic alternative of a helicopter transfer to the Lodge. The 70-minute journey will land in the grounds on the Lodge’s helipad with just a short walk to guest accommodation.
Private jets can arrive at Taupō Airport too, if arranged in advance.
For drivers, Taupō is a three and a half to four-hour drive from Auckland, four and a half to five hours from Wellington but just one hour from Rotorua - one of the smelliest places in the world, thanks to the sulphurous nature of its terrain.
Bordered by the rolling green lawns along the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is styled in the manner of a grand estate with a main lodge with restaurant and terraces surrounded by beautifully maintained borders and trees. The twenty Junior Suites and the two private Owners’ Residences are each situated to retain privacy with enhanced views out over the gardens and the rolling river.
True retreats, the Junior Lodge Suites are large and airy with high exposed beam ceilings and floor to ceiling French doors looking out over the river, bringing the outside in. Apart from the outdoor verandah with daybeds to watch the world go by, there is an intimate lounge area, ensuite bathroom with a deep soaking tub, heated floors and dual vanities and a generous dressing room. Situated well away from any neighbours ensuring privacy, each Suite enjoys an open layout and mesmerising views out over the rolling green lawns and river beyond.
The Alan Pye Cottage is the smaller of the two owners’ residences at 325 square metres of supremely comfortable living space with leather armchairs, deep sinking sofas and an elegant dining area. The open plan layout is enhanced with antique furnishings and many museum-quality Māori artworks collected and on display. The perfect family retreat, this two-bedroom accommodation features premium linens, fireplaces and dressing rooms, a bathroom with a view, a well-equipped kitchen, an outdoor terrace with infinity plunge pool and a courtyard garden with a private spa pool and outdoor pavilion complete with fireplace and lounge.
Set on a sunny bluff along the banks of the Waikato River, the four-bedroom Alex van Heeren Cottages is the perfect group retreat. The opulently appointed bedrooms have equally luxurious bathrooms and generous open plan living and dining areas topped by soaring high ceilings opening up to the rafters, looking out to the river. The den features a fireplace and entertainment, while there is also a fully equipped kitchen and an outdoor terrace with a plunge pool. The courtyard garden features an outdoor fireplace and a private heated spa pool – perfect for family or friends.
Both premium accommodation options come with butler service and the services of a personal chef.
The activities at Huka Lodge are split into Lodge activities, Aquatic Adventures, Land Expeditions and Heli Experiences.
At the Lodge, guests may enjoy a comprehensive selection of private beauty and relaxation treatments provided by qualified therapists in-suite. In-suite hairdressing can also be arranged. In keeping with the idea of a private estate, Huka Lodge offers a private all-weather tennis court available with private lessons available on request. Private yoga tuition can also be arranged and there are pétanque and croquet courses set up on the lawn for slow-paced afternoons. There is also a resort pool and spas for a refreshing swim.
The land-based activities are the backbone of any stay in Taupō. Connect with a member of the local Maori tribe, Ngati Tuwharetoa or visit Rotorua to try out the 93-mile of purpose-designed mountain bike trails or take a thrilling 45-minute rafting trip down the Katuna River. Have a gourmet meal on board a private charter after which, relax in the therapeutic geothermal pools accessible only by boat. For those who prefer to hike, Taupō’s varied natural landscape presents boundless opportunities for walking and hiking either on a guided or self-guided basis. Golfers will enjoy playing on two world class golf courses just minutes’ drive from Huka Lodge – the Wairakei International Golf Course set across 182 hectares of lush rolling countryside. The Kinloch Signature Golf Course is a 20-minute drive away and is New Zealand’s only course designed by Jack Nicklaus. There is even a Formula Challenge in the form of the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park located a short drive away, allowing guests the opportunity to make a lap in a Formula Challenge racing car.
An aerial tour of the North Island’s spectacular heartland is unforgettable, flying over the Kaimanawa Range wilderness with possible wild horses and Red or Sika deer sightings, along the surging Rangitikei Rover returning to Taupō along mountain ranges seething with volcanic activity and over the vast craters of the Tongariro National Park. Or take a daring flight over the dormant volcanic cone of Mount Tarawera which last erupted in 1886. Some guests prefer the dual perspectives of water and sky, taking a three-hour luxury cruise following by a heli flight around Tongariro National Park. Other aerial activities might include bungy jumping, skydiving, or gliding.
With a river running through it, there is no doubt that at least one aquatic adventure will be on the itinerary of any Huka Lodge guest. There are opportunities to try fly fishing, experience the thrill of jet boating or a white-water ride, whilst others prefer taking a more peaceful luxury cruise, taking in views of Māori rock carvings and secluded bays. There is also kayaking available, a great way to explore the rivers and lakes at one’s own pace whilst other guests might prefer stand-up paddle boarding.
Founded in the 1920s as a simple fishing camp with simple white canvas tents by Irishman Alan Pye, he quickly established a reputation for fine hospitality and trophy-winning trout – both of which still draw in guests today.
Today, the accommodation offers some of the most luxurious in New Zealand and one of the largest lodges is named in his honour, the other, slightly larger accommodation, is named after one the architects of the Lodge, Alex van Heeran. Many feel that Huka Lodge is the founder of luxury lodges in New Zealand and it is hard to disagree.
New Zealand-based designer Virginia Fisher created the opulent interiors for the Lodge and Suzanne Turley created the beautiful gardens to complement both the Lodge’s design and the natural environment.
It is the connection to nature and the environment that sets this property apart however. It is probably why royalty and Hollywood’s elite have walked this path. Today we are all looking to escape the stresses of urban living by immersing ourselves in unique travel experiences and this is really the essence of what Huka Lodge is all about. It might be difficult to leave the Lodge without being changed just a little for the better, to be a smidge more grounded and far more attuned to life in the raw.
The Lodge Restaurant acts as a hub for residents throughout the day with breakfast served as the mists rise across the river, a light lunch served at midday and dinner eaten in candlelight with a darkening sky turning to dusk. The tartan carpet underlines the links with Scotland and forms a perfect backdrop to the views seen through floor to ceiling French doors. The resort has several dining “nooks” scattered around the grounds to make a dinner an experience including the Wine Cellar, the Orchard, the Trophy room, the Green Room and the Jetty Pavilion.
With the abundant bounty of New Zealand produce, Executive Chef Paul Froggatt prepares mouthwatering meals with a classical European influence and foundations steeped in traditional, fine hospitality. Local organic and free-range produce including chicken and beef are complemented by fresh greens, Lodge baked bread and fine wines – all finely balanced for an enjoyable five-course dinner. Expect regional delights like Te Matuku oysters, Matangi Beef, Mount Cook Alpine Salmon and Southland lamb on the daily-changing menu.
The Bar at Huka Lodge is stocked with premium spirits – many of them locally distilled small-batch labels – perfect for the base of a range of cocktails and mixed drinks. Alternatively, enjoy a glass of quality wine from The Wine Cellar, a vast underground labyrinth which houses 4,500 bottles of wine – an oenophile’s paradise. Or adjourn to the Lodge’s Lounge to enjoy a nightcap to end the day.
As you might expect, Huka Lodge is committed to a dedicated path of initiatives and procedures to ensure the very best practice for the environment, the local community and the planet. At the core of this vision are initiatives designed to preserve pristine waters and the broader environment, conserve energy via recycling and to support the community of Taupō. In 2019, Huka Lodge embarked on a project to secure fresh Waikato water for the future and ensure sustainability of its use. The Lodge invested in a monitoring system and purification process which ensured the restaurant’s own water was of spring water quality and installed a state-of-the-art wastewater plant. Its high-quality output is used to irrigate the gardens. Huka Lodge takes a wholistic approach to managing its impact on the nature environment. A campaign to reduce the use of single-use plastics complements the use of organic and free-range produce in the kitchen while producers who embrace sustainable practices are actively sought as partners. Chemical-free pest control is used throughout the garden which is also planned to provide food and shelter for bees, birds and animals. Energy conservation, recycling and commitment to new technologies are all essential to the sustainability philosophy at Huka Lodge. Recyclable materials are sorted, while batteries, printer cartridges and coffee pods are all recycled. Solar power planning is underway and electric vehicle charging stations are in place. A commitment to engaging with and supporting the local community is essential to Huka Lodge with its loyal team recruited from the local community. The property supports local businesses wherever possible for the provision of food, wine and services and contributed to fundraising efforts for local schools and charities. For more than 30 years, the Lodge has held a highly anticipated Christmas party for the community’s silver residents.
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