We have recently come back from our recent trip in New Zealand and we thought you would be interested in a couple of places we particularly loved.
New Zealand is a great country. It offers everything you might look for: wild nature, stunning landscapes, nice beaches, great wine, very welcoming people… On top of that we also realized that it also offers some of the best hotels in the world! This time we visited the North Island and, after landing in Auckland, where we spent a couple of days, we drove south to Lake Taupo (pretty much in the center of the North island) and then to Hawke’s Bay.
It has been a very interesting trip – we visited amazing places like Wai-o-Tapu thermal wondeland, lake Rotorua, Hobbiton, Huka falls, Napier, Cape kidnappers, just to name a few. And, on top of that, we stayed at two of the most beautiful hotels we have evevr visited so far.
Let’s start with the first one. Huka Lodge is a fishing lodge now turned into a high-end luxury hotel just along the banks of the Waikato river. The lodge offers in total 25 suites, of which four are in the Owner’s cottage and two in the Alan Pye cottage. The moment you get into this place you feel like you have left everything behind and you are entering a new world where everyone is ready to spoil you. And we loved that.
The common areas in the central lodge include few nice rooms, which are usually used for dining and for your relaxing time during the day. From there you can walk to your rooms which are all positioned few steps away from the river. Rooms are very large, with everything you might need. They also offer complimentary amenities like the mini-bar which is filled with drinks and some delicious treats (we particularly liked a couple of chocolate bars from Hawke’s Bay and the smoked almonds!). From the bedroom, once you open the floor to ceiling windows, you can walk easily to the river to get in love with its green waters.
We think the interior designer Virginia Fisher did a magnificient job with both the common areas and the rooms – there is a never ending sense of style and pure elegance in the lodge, which mixes different styles from different parts of the world – we would say the style is a mix of high-end countryside style from Provence and New Zealand, although when you are in the trophy room upstairs in the main lodge, you easily feel influences from Africa.
Service is top notch during the entire stay – you always get everything you need or want. Food is just great both at breakfast and dinner, when the Executive chef Paul Froggatt delighted us with some mouthwatering dishes. Breakfast in particular is offered a-la-carte with a good selection of eggs, toasts, pancakes, etc. plus a buffet with a large choice of pastries , cereals, cured meats, cheese, yogurt and other tasty food to start your day in the best way possible. At dinner you first meet in front of the fireplace with other guests for pre-dinner drinks and canapes and then, when you are ready, they take you to your table. When it comes to decide where to have your dinner you have a few options – you can also choose some private rooms or spots throughout the property, for a particularly romantic night. We tried both the Library and the Outdoor fireplace, but you can choose among over 20 indoor and outdoor venues. The Library, in particular, is very cozy and romantic with its fireplace – it is also called the “Queen room” since HM Queen Elizabeth used to dine here during her stays at the lodge in the past.
During the day there are so many activities to choose from, you would need at least a couple of weeks to do them all. You can visit some of the most interesting places in New Zealand, such as lake Rotorua, Tongariro National Park, Huka Falls, Lake Taupo and so on, or you can just stay at the lodge and try fly-fishing, or play tennis or petanque with your friends.
Overall, the Huka Lodge experience is hard to describe with words – we will try to help you with some nice pictures, but we really suggest to try during your next trip in New Zealand. What they claim in their logo, “Consistently rated one of the world’s best”, is absolutely true and, most of all, absolutely deserved.
After leaving Huka Lodge, we drove further south to Hawke’s Bay. The landscape here is very different. A lot of vineyards and some nice long beaches on the Pacific Ocean, accompanied by some very elegant Art-Decò buildings in Napier. What a place! And, if you are still not satisfied, get in front of the gate of The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and ring the bell. You will be welcomed from a nice receptionist who will tell you that you still need to drive for about 15 minutes to get to the Farm – that is when you start wondering how big this property is…
Set on a 2,400-hectare working sheep and cattle station, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers is part of the Robertson lodges, which include three of the most spectacular properties in New Zealand and, let me say, in the world. The farm sits atop rolling hills, from which you get the most amazing view of the entire property just until the white cliffs disappear in the ocean.
The property includes one of the world’s top golf courses, ranked number sixteenth in the world and a working farm. Walking around you will have the opportunity to see thousands of sheeps, lambs and cattles, which give a rural twist to the entire property.
The lodge interior is furnished in a country-chic style, where every single corner is made with the objective of making you feel at home. There is a gym in the main building and a SPA in a separate one. There are three different types of rooms plus the owner’s cottage – we got a Ridge suite, which is spectacular because it is set atop a skyline ridge with uninterrupted view across the Hawke’s Bay. It is very large (about 65sqm.) and provides all the amenities you might need, including a complimentary minibar. Here, you will also find some cookies and brownies made on a daily basis from the pastry chef which are absolutely to die for…
At night, similarly to Huka Lodge, they offer pre-dinner drinks and canapes, before heading to dinner. You can choose among different locations for dinner – there is a very nice veranda (called Loggia) from where you can see Napier lights at nights or, additionally, you can choose from a variety of private dining locations. We tried the Snug, which is a very romantic cylindrical room with, with wooden interiors where you get served from a private butler – amazing experience! (see pictures below). One thing to remember for dinner: the environment is pretty formal, so they require men to wear a jacket (if you forget yours they will have one for you though, do not worry!)
In terms of activities, the entire property offers enough things to keep you busy every day – you can rent Can-ams to explore the Cape, or take a ride on mountain bikes to visit the gannets’ colony (one of the largest in the world), or play golf, or visit Napier ,which is just 20-30 minutes away by car, etc. There is also a small gym downstairs, in case you need to burn some calories, which you might need to do since the food is so delicious here. And, if you want, you can also swim in an amazing heated infinity pool with an uninterrupted view on the entire property. You will not get bored!
We spent a couple of days at The Farm, which felt like being in heaven. We highly suggest this place and we will definitely come back. We also heard great thing about the other two properties of the Robertson lodges, especially The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs – maybe in our next trip to New Zealand will try that one as well 😉