Acacia Cliffs has been open since 2008, what are the highlights and milestones of the last 6 years? Although we don’t actively seek weddings at the Lodge we felt honoured to host a beautiful bride and groom from Australia who had just parents and a family member attend the special day. The thing that made this occasion so special was that the bride was so unwell they decided to get married sooner rather than later and she looked spectacular… the good news was that we kept in touch with these guests and now two years later she has recovered completely and has sent us pictures of her new baby boy. Milestones, almost six years to the day that we opened and still enjoying it!
What experiences do you both draw on from your past lives that enhance Acacia Cliffs? International travel has always been a passion and as a result of our extensive travels, we are able to identify with the needs and interests of our guests and share experiences. Travelling has also made us really appreciate what New Zealand has to offer so as New Zealand hosts we are genuinely proud to showcase not only our unique volcanic region but also the other special New Zealand gems. Rick has had almost thirty years in hospitality having set up and operated successful restaurants, cafes and wine stores so his expertise in the kitchen and knowledge of wines, comes with experience. We both also owned and operated a mountain bike and kayak business in Noosa, Australia so the service industry is definitely not new to us… we love it! Also having brought up our family in Taupo we know the region and its operators well so are in a position to be able to offer hands on knowledge and recommendations.
You have some great feedback and testimonials on your web site, I know all the guests we send to you love the lodge, what is it do you think that sets Acacia Cliffs apart? While the views are outstanding, the lodge purpose built to ensure privacy and comfort and the design unique, we believe it is the Acacia Cliffs experience that our guests enjoy and remember. Personal relaxed service by New Zealand hosts, the opportunity to enjoy the company of other guests with the option for privacy if preferred, evenings around the table enjoying good food and wine and interesting conversation, attention to detail and a genuine interest in making sure our guests get the most that they can during their New Zealand vacation.
Typically what type of guest do you think Acacia Cliffs is suited to? We opened in 2008 and since that time we have welcomed a wide variety of guests from all around the world. As a hosted boutique lodge of only four guest rooms, Acacia Cliffs seems suited to guests who enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, the company of fellow guests and who want to really experience New Zealand hospitality. Everyone comes with a story to share, a question to ask and an enthusiasm for getting the most out of their visit to New Zealand.
Having stayed at Acacia Cliffs I can say those lake and mountain views are to die for! Was the property designed with the views in mind, and was it always intended to be a lodge? We returned to Taupo specifically to build a lodge. We spent over a year searching for the perfect location which offered uninterrupted lake and mountain views, privacy and the landscape to accommodate a boutique lodge of four guest rooms. We then spent another year commissioning the architect, working on the design brief… views! views! views!.. and meeting the compliance requirements of a purpose built lodge.
We love the result!
Money no object what would be your top pick for an activity or adventure in Taupo? With stunning volcanic alpine scenery, a freshwater lake the size of Singapore two international golf courses and world class trout fishing on our doorstep there is an endless choice. Top pick would be a scenic helicopter-flight taking you up close to three world heritage active volcanoes before landing in the remote Kaimanawa Ranges. Enjoy the beauty and solitude and test your fly fishing skills with a professional guide to snare a trophy sized rainbow trout. An afternoon of golf, or maybe a tandem skydive before a pampering in house spa treatment back at the lodge before your chef prepared evening meal.
What about for the more budget conscious, can you suggest three activities in the Taupo area that aren’t too hard on the pocket. Too many to list! Walk the Huka Falls Track, kayak or sail to the Maori Rock Carvings, bike on challenging mountain bike trails or ride the cycle paths along the lake, visit Orakei Korako’s geothermal valley, trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and explore the World Heritage Volcanic area at the south of the lake, and lots more!
I can vouch for Rick’s culinary expertise and casual style hosting you have at Acacia Cliffs, can you tell us about Rick’s favourite dish to prepare? This type of dining allows me to experiment with a variety of fresh ingredients and without getting caught up in the latest food fad I can say fusion is a style I enjoy cooking especially Asian European fusion. With the winter coming on, the seasonal favourite of mine at the moment is a hearty chicken hot and sour soup. I make the base in the morning and by evening it is so good that have to stop myself from eating it all… it’s spicy and sour with lots of bok choy, vegetables and lemon peppered chicken… I always hope that there some left over so when everyone has gone to bed there is the sound of slurp slurp in a dark kitchen!
When guests want to dine out in Taupo where do you recommend? Taupo has a great variety of dining options from casual to fine dining, New Zealand and international cuisine. When guests dine out we discuss what style of dining they feel like on the night and go from there… casual shared plate option?… bar/bistro style?… or takeaway pizza on the deck at the lodge! Being local we are in the know for changes in chefs or restaurants opening or closing and can recommend accordingly.
Do you have any interesting stories or requests from past guests, without naming names of course! There are so many stories of interesting people that when I tell my friends they think I am making the stories up. How about the couple of guys who had circumnavigated the world in a NoTa helicopter taking three years on and off and the final leg of this fabulous journey was from Taupo to Auckland. From there the chopper was going to be freighted in a box back to San Francisco… the final leg of an amazing journey and one of the two was due to fly out at 4pm to Auckland International Airport for a important address at some famous American university. Guess what? Taupo was completely covered in mist, no way to get off the ground here at Acacia Cliffs Lodge, the guy took the local flight from Taupo Airport and made his flight. The pilot and I sat on the table with the rain radar on 30sec refresh and at about 12 midday we sighted a window of opportunity. After a twenty minute start-up routine the sun appeared and up and away he went hovering about one inch from the front window he saluted and wheeled away so dramatic!
If you had 10 days to see as much of New Zealand as possible, where would you visit, other than Taupo of course? New Zealand is all about hidden corners and unexpected delights so independent travel rather than tour group options is preferred so you can follow your interests. The Coromandel coastline with its pohutakawas, stunning remote beaches and quirky local experiences is a must. The Bay of Islands, a bit more remote but once again offering a real New Zealand experience. The vineyard areas of Hawkes Bay… not only stunning scenery but excellent wines to enjoy! And of course the South Island with its wide open mountain passes, the tourist towns of Queenstown and Wanaka, the Doubtful Sounds and the great walks… Milford, Routeburn, Able Tasman.
You both travel extensively, where has been your favourite places to visit? That’s a difficult one as each has its own attraction. New York for the fast pace and buzz of city life… like being in a movie. Paris for its romance. France with its charming villages and passion and pride for local produce. Italy… slightly crazy and stunningly beautiful. Hanoi… life goes on all around you at all times of the day and night. The Greek Islands… ferries, beaches, whitewashed villages and turquoise seas. So many more!