The most exclusive lodge in New Zealand, having hosted everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to the late Robin Williams, Huka Lodge feels like a refined country getaway set on the banks of the Waikato River near the North Island resort town of Taupo. Founded in 1924 by a charismatic Irishman named Alan Pye, the property was later reimagined by entrepreneur Alex van Heeren with the help of interiors specialist Virginia Fisher and famed New Zealand landscape designer Suzanne Turley. The surrounding grounds are ranked as a ‘Garden of National Significance’ by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. Whether staying in the lodge suites—which feature French doors that open up to a wooden terrace just steps from the river—or the lofty private cottages, guests will feel like royalty here.
This Relais and Chateau lodge has been rented repeatedly by Queen Elizabeth and it's where King Willem of the Netherlands brought Queen Maxima on their honeymoon. The reason's obvious: rustic, Scottish-accented luxury, superb food, and unparalleled service, down to the small bird who rids the place of flying insects.