Located just outside Rotorua, in Maori heartland, Treetops Lodge is known for its hunting and trout fishing. With seven trout streams and game reserves, it is set in over 2500 hectares of native forest that is more than 800 years old: think scenes from Jane Campion’s gothic film The Piano. We arrive at the entrance of Treetops Lodge – which has stone walls, wrought iron gates, and is guarded by statues of deer – after an easy three-hour drive from Auckland. We enter an autumn-coloured, tree-lined road before winding up through green hills on dirt roads, following the signs for the lodge.
We manage to detach the toddlers from feeding the goldfish in the ponds either side of the paved entrance to the main lodge. The huge wooden entrance doors are intricately carved and lead into the lounge room with soaring cathedral ceilings, inspired by traditional Maori buildings. On either side of this room are metre-deep stone open fires. If the weather turns foul, everything you need to relax is indoors: an extensive library, a billiard table, huge open fireplaces, and lots of great nooks for children to play hide and seek. There is a formal dining room and a charming conservatory with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows that open on to the gardens. The wood for all the exquisitely built lodges and villas at Treetops has been felled from the surrounding land.
There are five in our party, including two toddlers, and we are accommodated in adjoining villas separate from the main lodge. The villas are constructed to the highest standards and finished with comfortable, elegant and hospitable furniture in a warm, natural colour scheme. Open fireplaces, leather armchairs, French doors opening onto paved terraces overlooking the hills, spa baths, walk in wardrobes and in–room dining all add to the sense of luxury. There was also a great choice of board games, DVDs and books for when we got rained in.
Treetops has Michelin-star chefs on staff and superb degustation meals featuring produce from the estate included game meats of venison, buffalo, and wild pig. Customary Maori ingredients such as peppery horopito are harvested from the kitchen garden (organic and pesticide free) and incorporated into meals. Don’t miss the Estate to Plate Safari where the chefs show you where traditional ingredients are harvested and explain the traditional medicinal qualities. Game and seafood served at Treetops all come from the estate. Guests are taken out in four-wheel drives and have the opportunity to view wild deer and buffalo, and see the manuka honey aviaries. The safari is concluded with a half day spent at the Wild Food Cooking School.
Treetops now offers a five-star kids program with options such as horse-riding, mountain biking, clay bird shooting and a fly-fishing tutorial. The highlight for our little ones was seeing the horses roaming around the property and the opportunity to get up close for a pat. Our stay was too short and we look forward to returning to experience some of the other exciting activities on offer such as archery and trout fishing, or simply exploring some of the many walking trails through the forest.