Since my youth, I have always wanted to experience Huka Lodge. Until now, the closest I was able to get was viewing glimpses of it from the various trails leading to Huka Falls. Flanking the beautiful headwaters of the Waikato river, Huka Lodge claims to be “consistently rated one of the world’s best”. I now have no doubt.
A special birthday seemed an excellent opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. Being a relatively quieter part of the otherwise busy Taupo calendar, it was straight forward booking a Friday night dinner with just one week’s notice. Please note, however, that casual dining is not available year round so it would pay to book as early as you can.
Huka Lodge is an easy 10 minute drive from Taupo. Take the Huka Falls Road off the Thermal Explorer Highway (was State Highway 1 before the Taupo bypass was created).The Lodge is located 500-metres south of the Huka Falls entrance. A taxi would be an excellent option if you want to try the delicious wines the Lodge has to offer.
Our dinner consisted of pre-dinner drinks and canapés in the Lodge Room, a five-course set menu dinner, emphasising the best of New Zealand produce, and coffee/tea, cheeseboard and petit-fours in the Main Lodge Room following dinner.
The pre-dinner drinks and canapés in the exquisite Lodge Room were a great way to start our dining experience. Being a colder night, the warmth of the large open fire and fellow guests made us feel right at home. There was a vast assortment of local drinks available for sampling. We had a very nice glass of Marsden Pinot Gris which we chose to also accompany our dinner.
The dinner itself was had in the main dining room overlooking the grand lawn leading down to the Waikato River. Another large open fire provided a cosy warmth to the luxuriously decorated dining room. Several other small parties joined us, but our table location really made us feel like we had the room to ourselves.
Our menu, prepared by Paul Froggatt (Executive Chef) and Filip Czmok (Sous Chef), was as follows:
Prepared as a salad, with Puhoi goats cheese mousse & red wine jell-o.
Ora King Salmon
Lightly smoked with grape variations, puffed macadamia & celery mayonnaise.
Crusted with sourdough, with leeks, urenika potatoes, & horseradish.
Hawkes Bay Wagyu
With preparations of Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom jam & baby kale.
Vermicelli, fresh nutmeg, burnt orange ice cream & Cointreau sour cream.
Being a vegetarian, my partner was able to substitute the Hawkes Bay Wagyu with a delicious piece of chicken.
Each course was exquisitely presented and extremely flavoursome. I do not claim to have anywhere near a refined palette, but really enjoyed everything served to us. The Wagyu was tender and juicy and melted in ones mouth. The Chestnut dessert was delicious, with the hint of Cointreau topping off a great meal.
The service experienced throughout the night was some of the best I have had here in New Zealand. This with the delicious 5 course dinner easily justified the price. If you are wanting to have a special dining experience in a one-of-a-kind location, I would really recommend Huka Lodge. We are going back next year for sure.
Find out more about dining and accommodation at the Huka Lodge website: www.hukalodge.co.nz