In the third instalment of her New Zealand travel diary, Lauren Shorney, one of our Kiwi Travel Specialists, visits two iconic Kiwi lodges and enjoys a Hawke’s Bay cycling trip.
Renowned for its elegance and exceptional service, Huka Lodge has a beautifully lush setting on the banks of the majestic Waikato River, which runs down to the thundering Huka Falls (just a 10-minute walk down the hill). My husband and I stayed in one of the magnificent Lodge Rooms, which was superbly cosy with its roaring fire to sit by while enjoying a glass of New Zealand wine. The room was located on the banks of the river, so fly fishing was a must. Fishing rods are freely available on the condition of Huka’s catch and release policy, and after endless patience my husband managed to catch a Rainbow trout.
The location is so tranquil that it’s easy just to relax and take in the scenery, but for the more adventurous there are a number of walks to choose from, and a fantastic choice of individual experiences including helicopter flights, cycling trails, horse riding and fishing.
Huka Lodge’s sophistication and style is truly exceptional, with a real highlight being able to choose your own private setting for a sumptuous five-course dinner. We chose the more intimate surroundings of the study, but if you prefer to 'dine like Royalty' you should definitely opt for the library, once graced by none other than the Queen and Prince Philip. It's easy to see why Huka Lodge is ranked fifth in the world’s top 20 international hideaways; this 5* super lodge really is a truly spectacular place to stay.
One of the great things about Huka Lodge is how close you feel to nature, which as far as I’m concerned is what New Zealand is all about. I’d highly recommend taking advantage of our 'travel less, see more' extended stay in Lake Taupo, the Lake Taupo Extension, and discover this outdoor paradise for yourself.
Greenhill Lodge is located around 30 minutes from Napier, the city rebuilt in the Art Deco style after a devastating earthquake in 1931. The locals are understandably passionate about their unique city, and one of the best ways of appreciating its unique appeal is on a vintage car tour: a nice taste of urban life before heading into the magnificent scenery of Hawke’s Bay and this historic and elegant lodge where we would be spending the evening.
Greenhill is set in grounds of seven acres with magnificent views over the hills and farmland of this famous North Island wine-producing region. On arrival we were greeted by our wonderful hosts, John and Christine, who offer a completely unique experience: the lodge is exclusive to you during your stay, which made us feel like we had this grand and gracious home all to ourselves. This is a lodge of history, too – we soon learnt that the previous owners were extremely proud when the Queen Mother visited during her tour of New Zealand in 1958. She had asked to stay in a home typical of the early colonial days in New Zealand and Greenhill was the perfect choice.
I was completely overawed by this beautiful setting. After a whistle-stop tour of the North Island, I couldn’t think of a better place to wind down a little and celebrate New Zealand’s legendary natural beauty.
John and Christine were perfect hosts and made us feel so welcome, as did their gorgeous little dog Nessie. We enjoyed an incredible four-course dinner, from fresh locally-grown produce and prepared to perfection by Christine and served by John. Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious.
Sadly, we only had a one night stay at Greenhill Lodge and definitely did not want to leave. The hospitality is simply superb and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this exclusive lodge to anyone staying in the Hawke’s Bay region; all the more reason to spend longer and fully immerse yourself in everything Hawke’s Bay has to offer. Our 10-day boutique wine trail itinerary, meanwhile, will certainly suit wine and food connoisseurs.
The words ‘recipe for disaster’ sprang to mind when I learned I would be visiting Church Road Winery and wobbling about on a bike. How wrong I was! Jenny from Takaro Trails met us at Breckenridge Lodge, a stunning property with views to die for. From here we headed off to the start of the cycle path.
The Hawke's Bay Trails, part of Nga Harenga, the NZ Cycle Trail, are made up of three routes: the Landscape Ride, Water Ride and the Wineries Ride - 200km of stunning off-road trails that form the basis for unique cycle tour routes through the Hawke's Bay countryside.
I was a little nervous as I’d not cycled in over five years, but after a couple of minutes the old saying was realised: you never do forget how to ride a bike. The paths are made from packed limestone so the ride is smooth and easy with no bumps to worry about, which left me free to concentrate on the incredible scenery of magnificent vineyards, rivers and coastal pathways. When you do venture onto the road it’s not a problem as they're so quiet – this really is a cyclists’ heaven. Our trip, of around 40 minutes, went by far too quickly - I just wish we had had longer to explore the other routes!
The reward for all that cycling was a visit to Church Road Winery, where we received a behind the scenes tour, learnt how the wine is made and were treated to a huge lunch platter. It is no understatement to say that here you can experience a true love affair with wine. All in all, what a wonderful way to see Hawke’s Bay; we felt as though our trip really captured its heart. You can too on our Hawke’s Bay six-day/five-night holiday, where you’ll discover everything this famous wine-producing region has to offer.