Luxury Adventures are conducting a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. Located in close proximity to Taupo and and on the banks of the Waikato River next to Huka falls is the esteemed Huka Lodge. Founded in the 1920s, Huka Lodge is considered to be the iconic New Zealand luxury lodge sought by the world’s most discerning travellers.
Why should people include Huka Lodge in their itinerary? Quite simply, Huka Lodge is the first and the best of the lodges, given its history dates back to 1924 and it is a favourite of Royalty, celebrities and world leaders. More importantly, it welcomes its guests like family members returning to their own private haven, and offers a perfect, low key escape.
What is the average length of stay at Huka Lodge? We find the average stay at Huka Lodge to be two to three days
What two activities do you recommend as ‘must do’ while staying at Huka Lodge? During the fishing season, fly fishing in one of the region’s many rivers and tributaries is a must, especially when it is later prepared to your liking by our talented Michelin-star chef Michel Louws. The golfing options are also exceptional, with five golf courses within half an hour of the Lodge, three of them world-class. As most New Zealanders know, the Taupo region is one the country’s adventure playgrounds, so there is no shortage of options which the Lodge can arrange through our partner operators.
Which room is your favourite at Huka Lodge and why? All the suites are equally comfortable and luxurious with stunning views of the Waikato River, but there is something undeniably special about the bedrooms in the Owner’s Cottage and Alan Pye Cottage that takes you to another level of private indulgence.
Having stayed there before I found the wine cellar an excellent place to dine, do you recommend booking in advance for this and other private dining areas? We have 25 private dining options, so can usually accommodate all requests, however, it is a good idea to note these preferences in advance. The cellar itself is very spacious and can accommodate up to 12 diners comfortably, including romantic private tables for two in the side areas. Obviously one large party can take it over for special dinners too.
Who’s been your most interesting celebrity and why? They are all gracious guests, but of course it’s an honour to be a favourite in New Zealand of Royal family members such as Queen Elizabeth !! Who enjoys the location and hearing our piper Don, who for over forty years has been calling guests to dinner. Many of our celebrated guests come back regularly over the year with their families for the very reason that we respect their privacy and it’s a prefect place to relax away from the pressures of a sometimes invasive world.
What brought you back to Huka Lodge? It is the iconic brand in the New Zealand Market. It is also such a pleasure to work with a team who is so passionate and engaged in what it does – of course it goes without saying that this passion stems from its owner Alex van Heeren. New Zealand is a special destination to market in itself and under the banner of The Huka Retreats I have the opportunity to promote globally Fiji and South Africa – which keeps me busy.
The grounds at Huka Lodge are immaculate and this must take an enormous amount of work, how many grounds people do you have working at the lodge? Designed by landscaper Suzanne Turley in their most recent carnation, our gardens were recently recognised as a National Garden of Significance in New Zealand, and guests can enjoy them throughout the seasons. The team usually consists of five gardeners.
Where are most of your guests originating from? NZ, Australia, USA, UK, Europe – this is subject to variation depending on many factors such as global economic trends and exchange rates.
What is the executive chefs (Michel Louws) signature dish? Trout done three ways – it has to be seen and eaten to be believed as Michel is a genuine talent, but always fully respects the produce in his cuisine and errs on the side of simplicity.
And finally if you only had four destinations to visit in New Zealand where would they be? Auckland, Bay of Islands, Napier, Bay of Plenty.
Louise Smythe is Director of Sales and Marketing at Huka Lodge, Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Tony Townley is a luxury lifestyle specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.