How Taupō’s B&B’s came to be the best in New Zealand

Two of Taupō B&B’s, Whakaipo Lodge and Rive Gauche, took out top honours in the Bed and Breakfast Association of New Zealand awards for 2018. We talk to the owners of Whakaipo Lodge to find out what makes a successful B&B business.

When Garth and Angie London decided to set up a B&B, they searched for 18 months before they found the right property. They wanted somewhere with a good outdoor lifestyle and a property that had, in Garth’s words, ‘the character of a DOC hut’. The couple’s years of running alpine instruction courses in remote mountain huts had left them with a hankering for the feeling and character of the huts they used to frequent.

Whakaipo Lodge, located near the shores of Lake Taupō in an area known for its trout fishing, boating, mountain biking and walking tracks, really embraces this character. The board and batten-clad lodge is set away from the road in a lush green glade, just up the road from one of Lake Taupō’s best beaches.

Garth and Angie love interacting with people and make warm and inviting hosts. They believe the most precious gift they can give their guests is their time, and they say they don’t sell rooms but instead they create an experience for people. Evening canape time, and at breakfast, is when they make themselves available to chat to their guests and find out who they are, what they are interested in and help them plan their stay. They have become experts at gauging what activities their guests are likely to enjoy and make recommendations accordingly.

The difference between B&B's and other forms of accommodation is you!

Garth London

Food is a big thing at Whakaipo Lodge. Angie adores cooking and produces high quality meals and canapes for their guests. The couple believes in using fresh, seasonal produce and Garth grows as much as he can in their garden. They try and source what they can’t grow themselves locally before going further afield. Milk is organic and permeate free, eggs are free range and Angie makes her own pickles and chutneys with the produce from their garden. Guests are so enamoured with the food at Whakaipo Lodge that they often ask for Angie’s recipes, so she has created a recipe section on their website to share her cooking secrets.

Local craft beer, wine and locally roasted coffee are staples at Whakaipo Lodge. Garth and Angie say the quality is excellent, and guests often want to take supplies home with them. Favourites include Rive Gauche Pinot Gris, Karapiti Pinot Noir and Volcanic Coffee.

Sustainable living is another key focus for the couple. Growing up 100 metres from the Wanganui River in the days when you could drink the water straight from the river, Garth has enjoyed reconnecting with the land where he was raised. His father once told him that the measure of a man is whether he can feed his family from his own garden. Garth took from this the importance of self-reliance, of growing your own food and living sustainably. The couple try to live by this mantra every day and the result is high quality, seasonal and mostly organic food for their guests.

"My father always told me that the measure of a man is whether he can feed his family from his own garden. I try to live by this mantra daily by providing our guests with high quality, mostly organic produce fresh from our garden every day"

Garth London

Garth also has a side business, Adventure Shuttles, which compliments Whakaipo Lodge perfectly. He has an incredible knowledge of the local trail network and shuttles guests to trails throughout the region for mountain biking and hiking. His intimate knowledge of the local area is a huge resource for their guests who are looking for adventure, and it’s clear this is another piece of the puzzle that makes the experience at Whakaipo Lodge outstanding.

When we asked Angie what she thinks makes Whakaipo Lodge really stand out from other B&B’s, she said it comes down to how they host their guests. She says a good B&B host should identify their strengths and play to these, whether they’re cooking, food knowledge, wine, music or an in-depth local knowledge.

Whatever it is, she recommends finding something you can do well and turning it into an experience for your guests.