When wild storms damaged the tree-lined entrance and surrounding gardens within the park-like grounds of Huka Lodge in 2012, their dedicated gardening team set about re-creating a beautiful space befitting the peaceful character of this fabled estate.
Head Gardener Elaine Tocker and her team, including apprentices Willie and Steven, created a plan to improve it following the painstaking process of clearing damaged trees, blackberry and gorse which had covered the area. They scoured the grounds to recycle items for the new garden, including stone paving, benches, an old trellis and wooden umbrella stand, now supporting creeping Clematis, and a dilapidated shelter, which they moved and fixed. A tree stump was carved into a seat and a ponga log into a planter, while a boardwalk and sleeper steps created access over a steep area.
The new garden area covers both intense sunshine and shaded areas so the variation of planting was great, with individual plants chosen accordingly and moved from other areas to be given a second life, including a lush carpet of mondo grass, thousands of seedlings, azaleas, maples and flowering cherry trees. A staff member donated a large number of flax plants from their own garden, reflecting the communal nature of the project. For anyone who has ever worked at Huka Lodge, there is great collective pride in its gardens being amongst the best of any hotel in the world.
Just as the garden was nearing completion, the Lodge was generously offered a Japanese Torii by guest Jacqueline Holt, who thought it might suit the grounds, so the team carefully transported it to form a centerpiece of the new garden, a fitting final touch to the project.
Now five years later, the result is a beautiful space in which guests can reflect in quiet contemplation, whether that’s a morning yoga session, meditation or just a leisurely stroll through the gardens to take in the serenity of the grounds. It’s a tribute to the passion and dedication of the gardening team who continue to make Huka Lodge the unique haven that it is.
Huka Lodge, New Zealand and sister properties Dolphin Island, Fiji and Grande Provence Estate, South Africa comprise The Huka Retreats, all sharing a passionate commitment to providing extraordinary hospitality experiences for their guests.