A charming Irishman, Alan Pye, founded Huka Lodge, on the banks of the Waikato River, in the 1920s. The fame of this simple fishing camp soon spread all over the world and before long it became one of the best-kept secrets of the A-list. Internationally celebrated guests found their way to Huka Lodge and enjoyed the stunningly beautiful location and the outstanding hospitality. Now, 90 years later, Huka Lodge proudly celebrates this heritage and stays true to the values that have defined its iconic reputation. When Alex van Heeren founded The Huka Retreats he recognised the unique style of experience Alan Pye had created at Huka Lodge. He was intuitively drawn to preserve and honour this, while finding new ways to enhance this even further.
The philosophy of the property is as palpable as the force of the deep turquoise-green waters of the Waikato River it lies beside. At Huka Lodge it is always all about our guests, and how to make their stay as enjoyable and as memorable as we possibly can. In order for this to happen on a daily basis many elements have to come into play.
The General Manager, ensures a team that are well trained and able to embody the ethos and culture of the property when offering a high level of attentive and personal service. His experience in luxury lodge management is unrivalled and goes some way to explain why Huka Lodge has received so much recognition for its consistently high levels of service.
Internationally-recognised interior designer, Virginia Fisher, has created a series of sophisticated rooms and intimate spaces, all sharing a magical ambiance and designed for both elegance and relaxation. Landscape designer, Suzanne Turley, brings a series of garden rooms and manicured layers of planting to meet the beauty of the greater landscape beyond. What appears to be seamless effort, in fact requires considerable skill. The park-like grounds are lovingly tended by the Huka Lodge gardeners and within their 17-acres offer a true sanctuary of peace and quiet, with nature displayed at its finest.
Executive Chef, Paul Froggatt, leads a passionate kitchen team dedicated to sourcing the finest, freshest, local, seasonal produce and using this to present a series of exquisite menus, which change daily to take advantage of what is at its best. Paul’s time spent in some of the best Michelin-star kitchens of Europe and Asia is apparent from the moment our guests see their plates, while the very first taste of each dish confirms the rest.
This exquisite cuisine is presented in over 20 deliberately romantic private dining venues to be found, both indoors and outdoors, throughout the property. Tables for two, bathed in candlelight, can be found beside the river and under the stars over the summer evenings, or in the wine cellar, the jetty pavilion, or beside one of the numerous outdoor fireplaces.
Huka Lodge continues to be a strong leader and has never been known to rest on its laurels. Though we are often imitated we see this as a form of flattery and it spurs us on to find still more inventive and creative ways to engage with our guests. The Marketing team is the energy that drives so many of these initiatives. The Huka Lodge lifestyle packages and annual Events programme are great examples of this.
The especially themed packages are a very successful way for guests to enjoy everything this spectacular part of New Zealand has to offer, right on the very doorstep of the Lodge. Working closely with the best and most experienced guides and local operators many of these packages offer exclusive experiences often not available unless you are a Huka Lodge guest.
These packages are designed to create immersive experiences that can include not only catching a magnificent Rainbow trout but standing beside the Chef as he slices it into fresh sashimi for you to enjoy later or while he explains how he will smoke the trout for you.
One of our latest packages, The Art of the Maori Carver, created by experiential travel specialists Ahipara Luxury Travel New Zealand, is a two-night package offering an opportunity for a unique and authentic cultural exchange between guests and Maori tribal members of the Ngati Tuwharetoa of Taupo. This includes engagement with a traditional Maori carver who will create a carving especially for them. This experience is further complemented by the Atamai package, offering further cross-cultural exchanges and insights for our guests while visiting a small Maori community on the shores of Lake Taupo. Another innovative new package, Three Volcanoes before Breakfast, takes guests in their own private helicopter for a spectacular scenic sweep over the three peaks of Mts. Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, with a stop for French Champagne and pastries.
Families have always been welcome at Huka Lodge however our Family Time package takes this a step further by creating a two-night stay with plenty of attention lavished on the needs of all family members, especially the younger ones. Of course the two private cottages – the Owner’s Cottage and the Alan Pye Cottage are perfectly designed for multi-generational travellers.
In 1991, Huka Lodge was the first New Zealand lodge to present a series of special Events for their guests. These were so well received that they have continued every year since, in fact some of them, like the Big Red Dinner, have become institutions and appear on the programme every year. Coinciding with our attractive rates during the autumn-winter season, from May through to September, Huka Lodge presents events featuring themed weekends, high profile guest chefs, celebrated winemakers, artists, musicians and celebrity presenters. A series of Fireside Experiences was introduced last winter with local artisans, historians and personalities sharing their knowledge, life experience and specialist knowledge with guests in a relaxed way for no more than an hour, with drinks, before dinner. These events are intimate occasions for a maximum of just 50 guests at any given time and designed to entertain as well as inspire, and at the very least, to be truly memorable.
Another area that the Marketing team have focussed on is that of identifying, establishing and maintaining relationships with other luxury brand partners like Aston Martin, Louis Vuitton, fashion designer Karen Walker, Tiffany etc. This has led to the creation of exclusive experiences being available to Huka Lodge guests like – a personal styling session at a Karen Walker boutique or at Crane Brothers, as well as private viewings at leading art auction house Art + Object.
All these activities and networks create and further enhance a very close and strong relationship with our guests, while Huka Lodge’s reputation continues to draw top international awards and accolades, while its passionate commitment to providing an extraordinary experience for its guests never waivers.
Contact: New Zealand
Director of Sales & Marketing – The Huka Retreats
T + 64 9 308 9824