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Many of the region’s best beds come with gourmet picnics or degustation dinners or the opportunity to catch your trout then turn it over to a world class chef on site. Sleep in style at a warm and welcoming bed and breakfast establishment, a smart hotel, a villa or a luxurious lodge.
Indulge in a little history with French macarons and delicate sandwiches (think smoked salmon with lemon and herb cream cheese on rye) at the Hilton Hotel’s elegant Bistro Lago restaurant.
The Timeless High Tea harks back to a dinner served on site in 1947, with thoroughly modern updates and a tea menu that focuses on New Zealand-made offerings. Bubbles and martinis are on offer, too. The hotel itself boasts views over Lake Taupō, with tennis courts, swimming pools and a fitness centre.
Heli-fishing and horse riding are just two of the ways to work up an appetite at the wildly beautiful Poronui Station. Guests can also hike, mountain bike, hunt or even beekeep on the property.
Menus change daily and always utilise the best of what is in season, be it venison or asparagus. Everything is made on site from freshly baked bread to canapes and decadent desserts. Accommodation options include magnificent riverside guest cabins, a stylish timber and canvas safari camp or the secluded, self-contained Blake House.
Romance is king at this world-class, multi-award-winning lodge. Candlelit dinners are a given, in a secluded nook for two, an impressive wine cellar, on the patio, right beside the mighty Waikato River or in one of several sumptuous rooms.
From the hearty country-style breakfast, through to after-dinner petit fours by the fireplace, food and stellar service are a central part of the Huka Lodge experience. Rest assured the art, scenery, lavishly appointed cottages and guest facilities are well and truly up to scratch, too.
Much of the lodge’s organic and pesticide-free produce is harvested from the owner’s nearby farm and garden. Honey and heritage vegetables are gathered on site, in keeping with the kitchen’s ‘estate to plate’ focus, supplemented with the locally grown game and served with some of New Zealand’s best wines.
All this with elegantly appointed villa and manor accommodation and a spa, as well as a Jack Nicklaus 18-hole signature championship golf course on the property. Lake Taupō and the charming village of Kinloch are just beyond the doorstep, too.
As the name suggests, Edgewater Restaurant is perched mere steps from the edge of Lake Taupō and is the perfect spot for sunset dining. Although the ‘crack of dawn’ breakfast of chickpea and tomato stew, halloumi, chorizo, eggs, pistachios and crème fraiche on toasted ciabatta is a fine way to start a lakeside morning.
Only a wonderful walkway stands between the hotel and the lake, with its unimpeded views across to the Tongariro National Park's mountains. Follow the walkway into town or stay put and luxuriate in the heated pool, plunge pool, sauna and gym.
In-the-know locals head to the covered terrace at Lake Bistro, in the Suncourt complex. Sure, the lake views and leafy, light-strung terrace are lovely but it’s the quality of the food that makes it tough to find a seat at this eatery.
Those luscious seasonal pastries and crusty loaves come courtesy of a talented resident pastry chef, while the confit duck hash, with salted chilli mayo and poached egg, will surprise anyone expecting standard brunch fare. Or how about lamb rump with black garlic baby ganoush and broccoli tabouleh for dinner? Hotel rooms and suites are bright, modern and roomy, just blocks from downtown Taupō.
Avid anglers can reel in trout off the lawn of this historic lodge, and then have the resident chef transform it into a dinnertime centrepiece. Trout or no trout, the lodge prides itself on a traditional dining experience that is warm and convivial, with roaring fires in stone fireplaces and friendly staff offering an extensive wine list.
Previous guests include American President Jimmy Carter and author Wilbur Smith, as well as a host of internationally renowned actors, sportspeople and fishers. The lawns of the 9-ha property run down to the Tongariro River, with direct access to some of the best pools on the river. Most of the villas and chalets feature art, images and artefacts from an earlier fishing era. The dining room is open to casual guests by reservation and the kitchen also offers hamper lunches and hearty breakfasts.
It is a given that guests at this lodge will feel doted on, starting with the generously cooked breakfast with fruit and accompanying homemade bread, pastries and muesli and cooked breakfast. Whakaipo translates to “court, woo, treat with affection, cherish” according to owners Garth and Angie, who make a point of living up to the name.
Expect locally roasted coffee and organic New Zealand tea, pre-dinner drinks and canapes and a four-course meal that wraps up with Angie’s truffles, made with black doris plums grown on site. The peaceful rural setting is just up the road from scenic Whakaipo Bay and Garth is a great guide for anyone wanting to tackle the neighbouring Great Lakes Trail rides on a mountain bike. Both suites open onto private patios and the pretty country garden.
Incredibly well-appointed kitchens are a major drawcard a The Point Villas, though the expansive lake views and tranquil décor also hold undeniable appeal.
Bring in a private chef or fire up the poolside barbeque yourself – each villa has its own mineralised pool - and make yourself at home in an indulgent, self-contained home away from home in a private lakeside estate. Perfect for entertaining or hiding out for a week.
If you’re looking for an escape this winter, Taupō is just the ticket. From cosy drinks by the fireplace, to magical places and spaces to explore, we say lock it in. So check out these fantastic locations to grab a hot (or cold) beverage and enjoy a yummy meal.