While planning a Ďlodge hop,í to finally get to know this beautiful South Pacific country I wanted a balanced trip that took us to both the north and south island. So many people fly straight to the south for the extreme adventures and skiing of Queenstown and the now famous Lord of the Rings backdrops, but I didnít want to miss out on the north either. One of its attractions is the Bay of Islands, with game fishing, wild dolphin pods and scenic islets scattered amongst pristine blue water. Sounds great - but because I love the beach I would be too frustrated to go when the water isnít warm enough for swimming, and this was an April trip.
But in a land of ancient forests, lakes and daring mountain men, one of New Zealandís great traditions is the hunting lodge holiday in the great outdoors (this isolated country has been better than just about anyone else at preserving their lands. Thatís why film directors come down here all the time to recreate medieval Europe!).
The destination hotel on the North Island that really stood out was Huka Lodge in a place called Taupo, a lakeside town fringed with snow-capped mountains in the islandís centre between cities Auckland and Wellington. Considered a classic, with a long history and reputation of understated exclusivity, I knew we had to try the benchmark for lodge stays here.
Hukaís reputation for service preceded it, as I loved dealing with two amazing women before we arrived, called Clementine Dickie and Karin Botha. I can usually tell what my trip will be like when I communicate with the staff beforehand. These ladies couldnít have been more helpful or eager to make sure we had a fully customised trip at the lodge, tailored to what we really wanted to do.