Huka Lodge is one of those rare retreats that never goes out of style; always staying ahead of the trends.
My wife and I honeymooned at this New Zealand icon 25 years ago, soon after it opened in its current guise, and the few days we spent there remain among our fondest memories.
Huka owner Alex van Heeren was one of the first to realise the potential of luxury lodges - a field in which New Zealand still leads the way - and winter is the most affordable time of the year for a little pampering on the banks of the Waikato River overlooking the Huka Falls.
Huka Lodge was also a pioneer of chefs/winemakers' weekends, and has launched a winter program of special events at no extra cost to guests - with low-season rates apply until September 30.
The guests include talents such as The Bentley's Brent Savage, Gibbston Valley’s Christopher Keys and Riverstone Kitchen's Bevan Smith.
First up is the annual Big Red Dinner, focusing on fine Spanish wines, including sherries, to be presented by Sergi Rostall from legendary merchants González Byass, complementing a five-course dinner showcasing contemporary Spanish-influenced cuisine by guest chef Brent Savage on June 15.
The Gibbston Valley Winemakers' dinner is on July 6 with winemaker Christopher Keys presenting Central Otago wines to accompany a five-course dinner by executive chef Michel Louws.
Huka Lodge winter rates are from NZ$795.00 + GST per person, per night (double/twin occupancy). All rates are inclusive of accommodation, pre-dinner drinks and canapés, dinner, country breakfast, use of all Lodge facilities,and return Taupo Airport transfers will be provided if required.
You'll be in good company. Previous guests at what was originally a fishing shack built in the 1920s include Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Diana Ross and Rod Stewart (although probably not all at the same time).
For a full list of events see www.hukalodge.co.nz/events and book through www.mrandmrssmith.com for special gift offers/