|Gazing at Tane Mahuta.
Every now and then as a travel writer you stay somewhere that isn’t just fancy, isn’t just in a beautiful setting and doesn’t just have a point of difference. Which isn’t to say that all of the above aren’t enormously good fun and even a prerequisite for a high end hotel. But sometimes you get something a little extra and for me that’s normally in the form of a personal connection with either the owners, the staff or the management.
The Waipoua Lodge on the Kauri Coast in the New Zealand province of Northland is one of those “every now and then” places I’ve been lucky enough to have stayed at. And as a result, I’ve now been there three times in just four years and I’m already plotting trip number four.
Owned and managed by Ian and Fran Farrant, these two felt like old friends after my first visit. Presiding over one of the most acclaimed small hotels in the country, Ian and Fran welcome each of their guests like they’re amongst the most important to have ever visited their gorgeous subtropical property. Right on the edge of the Waipoua Forest – home to the greatest number of remaining kauri trees in New Zealand – Ian and Fran’s hotel is an elegant historic villa with an adjacent block of four luxury suites.
To find out more about the history and opulence of the Waipoua Lodge, please subscribe to Let’s Travel magazine or download the most recent issue prior to the upcoming January release. Written by my friend and co-editor of the magazine Gayle Dickson, Gayle’s account is based on a night she and her husband Gary (also co-editor of Let’s Travel) had at the lodge a couple of months ago. I was also there and along with my girlfriend Aimee plus Ian and Fran and it was a wonderful night of food (Fran’s cooking is so good she even runs a cooking school for guests), wine and ripping yarns.
Unfortunately Gayle and Gary had to leave the next day, leaving me and Aimee to explore the surrounding forests. This is most famously the Waipoua Forest where the largest kauri tree in the world – the 2000 year old Tane Mahuta – exists. But beyond Tane Mahuta is the far lesser known but equally as beguiling Te Matua Ngahere – an even older tree which while not as tall as Tane Mahuta, is noticeably wider.
|A #casuallean inside the Waipoua Lodge.
For most tourists Tane Mahuta is all they see which is a shame given the magnificence of Te Matua Ngahere and the other surrounding old world trees of the Waipoua Forest. That said, one of the absolute highlights of our time at the Waipoua Lodge wasn’t even in the forest that is its namesake and rather the unassumingly named Trounson Kauri Park.
20-minutes drive south of the lodge, the Trounson Kauri Park is an entirely flat, almost all wooden board-walked chunk of pristine kauri forest. While these trees don’t have the jaw-dropping size and girth of Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere, the 45-minute loop walk is so strikingly beautiful it has felt fairytale-like every time I’ve done it. Most of the trees are many centuries old and the easy terrain of the track coupled with the never-boring sight of these almost directly vertical monoliths of nature makes this one of the great, virtually unknown walks in the country. For my money anyway.
For enquiries and bookings of Ian and Fran’s Waipoua Lodge please click here. The hotel is perfect for weddings, romantic escapes and for those who love the forest as much as the beach. And speaking of the beach, you also aren’t far away at all from the coastline.
Once again, to read more about the lodge and this part of the country, please click here and subscribe to Let’s Travel magazine. And in the meantime, here are my top 50 Waipoua Lodge and Kauri Coast photos – hope you like them.