Luxury escapes in New Zealand: Huka Lodge

Huka Lodge – once a simple fishing lodge on the banks of New Zealand’s Waikato River – is no stranger to titles.

Huka Lodge – once a simple fishing lodge on the banks of New Zealand’s Waikato River – is no stranger to titles, whether that’s as a home away from home for royals or as the recipient of a multitude of international luxury hospitality awards.

Since it was founded in 1924, Huka Lodge has welcomed more than half a million guests including an ever growing list of royals, celebrities and rich-listers from around the world. Next year the lodge will celebrate 95 years in business.

Along with being the first and oldest of its kind to be opened in New Zealand, Huka Lodge is one of the most celebrated with awards ranging from Andrew Harper’s Top 20 International Hideaways to frequent appearances in The Gold List by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine (UK) and US editions.

Garden of National Significance

Set within 17 acres of a magnificent Garden of National Significance (noted for its native plantings) on the banks of the teal-hued mighty Waikato River and just above the thundering Huka Falls, Huka Lodge offers a range of luxury accommodation options.

There are 18 Jnr Lodge Suites, one Lodge Suite and two exclusive cottages - The Owner’s Cottage and the Alan Pye Cottage - both designed and decorated to reflect the outdoor lovers' paradise of the Taupo region.

One of the lodge's features are the many indoor and outdoor spaces where guests can dine discreetly or together including on the riverside, in the orchard, surrounded by hedges and warmed by braziers, or in the impressive vaulted wine cellar.

Indoors, there’s an ambience inspired for comfort and with a Highland flavour which may explain why Queen Elizabeth II feels right at home here - she has stayed at Huka every time she has visited New Zealand.

Simple tented camp 

Huka Lodge has come a long way since it was founded by Irishman Alan Pye in 1924. It was his simple tented camp, generous hospitality and authentic tales of bountiful trout that first brought visitors from around the world to Huka.

Under new ownership since 1984, the lodge's face constantly evolves, searching for new ways to give clients luxurious experiences, but the genuine hospitality and breathtaking location continue to underpin the Huka Lodge experience. And, of course, you can still go fishing for magnificent trout from the banks of the Waikato River or in any of the many renowned fishing spots on rivers throughout the central North Island region.

In November 2017, Huka Lodge was chosen as one of the Top 20 Hideaways in the World by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report – the eight time to be included in this prestigious independent list (2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2005).

Andrew Harper describes it as “the original Super Lodge: New Zealand has a handful of so-called Super Lodges, resorts of fathomless indulgence where helicopter is the standard way to get around, but Huka is the Grande Dame — the place where it all began.”

“A European-style country house hotel, Huka Lodge is set along the willow-draped banks of the Waikato River near dramatic Huka Falls on New Zealand’s North Island. The 21 peaked-roof guest accommodations dot the grounds in a series of stylish duplex cottages that feature riverside verandas and skylit baths. Dining venues include a formal space decorated with Scottish tartan fabrics, a trophy room and a vaulted wine cellar. Huka Lodge also offers exceptional trout fishing”.

“Huka still draws anglers from around the world, but its idyllic riverside setting appeals to just about anyone, including the queen of England, as well as international A-list celebrities.”

2018 Events at Huka Lodge

During the cooler months (May to September), Huka Lodge offers a series of special weekend events. In 2018 these will include:

  • Pure Extravagance (Friday, 18 & Saturday, 19 May 2018) with Executive Chef Paul Froggatt and a series of gourmet events featuring a wine and cheese pairing experience by Sabato, Louis Roederer Rosé Vintage Champagne over brunch, a cooking demonstration with full attention paid to oysters, cocktail clinic, then dining with a difference – food stations showcasing whitebait, New Zealand Wagyu beef, crayfish, cured ham, caviar, smoked salmon and other delicacies.
  • Formula Challenge in Style (Saturday, 30 June 2018) is a high-speed weekend dedicated to exhilarating behind the wheel experiences with V8 car racing at Taupo’s Motorsport Park and high performance test drives with glamorous Aston Martin Vantage and DB11 sports cars. The evening starts with a tutored Gin & Tonic clinic before a fabulous dinner.
  • The Four Hands Collaboration Dinner (Saturday, 28 July 2018) features talented NZ chefs Paul Froggatt, and Nic Watt.  Sharing a deep passion and respect for Japanese cuisine, Paul and Nic will create their own unique six-course menu, comprising three signature courses each served alternately, for this spectacular dining event at Huka Lodge.
  • The Big Red Dinner (Saturday, 18 August 2018) highlights the wines of Portugal which are fast becoming a global phenomenon. Portuguese-born winemaker Jorge Nunes (from Hong Kong) will share his knowledge and stories of the Portuguese wine trade, presenting fine wines from the Douro Valley and a range of premium ports from Graham’s. Guest chef for this event is Analiese Gregory, who heads the kitchen at Franklin, Tasmania.
  • Paint with Dick Frizzell (Friday, 21 & Saturday, 22 September 2018) will see this celebrated Kiwi artist present a painting class at Huka Lodge. Spending time with Dick is always fun, energising and entertaining – combine this with his desire to help others to explore their creativity by sharing his methods and techniques so Huka Lodge guests can learn to paint Frizzell-style.

International luxury travel 

Luxury travel is one of the great successes in New Zealand’s tourism industry. 

Drawn firstly to the unspoilt landscape, international visitors are often blown away by the sophisticated infrastructure and services providing all the trappings of a first-class experience - topped off with peace, privacy and safety.

Discerning travellers regularly vote New Zealand as their favourite destination - among them Condé Nast readers who’ve voted New Zealand their favourite country in the world on multiple occasions.

Getting there - Huka Lodge

Huka Lodge sits on the banks of the Waikato River, near Lake Taupo in New Zealand’s central North Island, and about halfway between Auckland and Wellington. Taupo has a small airport, with connections to the major hubs, and is a 45-minute flight from both Auckland and Wellington. Alternatively, the lodge is a 3.5 hour drive from Auckland city, a 10-minute drive from Taupo or one hour by road from Rotorua. A helicopter flight from Auckland takes 1 hour.

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