A Dreamy Winter Escape to Taupo's Huka Lodge in an Aston Martin
Amanda Linnell heads to Taupo in an Aston Martin DB11 for a weekend of indulgence at Huka Lodge
We are ready to go. Hit the road. I’m sitting inside the Aston Martin DB11, one hand wrapped around the tan leather steering wheel, the other gently stroking the seat — the brogue-style stitched quilting of the leather gives an added sense of luxury.
I’ve familiarised myself with the touchpad controls, set up the Bang & Olufsen Beosound system with my favourite tunes and primed the climate control and sat nav.
But we can’t leave. My co-pilot is holding court with a small group of people who seem to have come from nowhere and are gathered around the car. The DB11 is not discreet. With its sleek lines, aluminium body and twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 engine, it looks formidable and is instantly recognisable.
Everywhere you go, it attracts attention. People on street corners turn as you peel past, on the motorway other drivers take a second look, and anywhere you stop, aficionados want to discuss everything; the size of the engine, how it handles, the aerodynamics, the torque and, in a petrol station in Tokoroa, what we do for a living. (Tempted as we were to spin a story about our rock star existence, we confessed we were journalists on a road trip. You could see the disappointment in his eyes.)
There is a deep roar as I start the engine. There’s no denying the masculine appeal here. The brochure is peppered with phrases such as “engineered to exhilarate”, “powertrain”, “effortlessly potent”. I make my way tenuously through the city traffic: this is not a car you want to make mistakes in.
But as soon as we hit the open road, I am comfortable enough to open it up — and the car is so responsive it is all too easy to cruise past the speed limit without noticing.
When you’re going away in a car like the Aston Martin DB11, Taupo’s Huka Lodge is the perfect destination. One wants to maintain certain standards, after all. Well, at least enjoy the illusion for a weekend.
We swing up the drive to the main door and attempt an air of nonchalance as we step out of the car: the porter can’t hide his enthusiasm at being allowed to drive it to the guests’ carpark.
A bottle of champagne and a selection of local treats await us in our riverside suite. We toast the good life as we look out across the lawn to the roaring rapids, and before we know it, it’s time to head to the main lodge for drinks and canapes with our fellow guests around the fire.
When we think we can’t be any more spoilt, we are led upstairs to the Trophy Room where a table for two is set in front of another fire, under the steady gaze of a giant buffalo head mounted on the wall above.
A delicious five-course degustation using the best local produce is complemented by fine wines recommended by the knowledgeable sommelier.
The next day, after a hearty breakfast, we have plans to make the most of the Huka Lodge experience — horse riding, golf, trout fishing, helicopter tours, jetboating...
But we can’t resist taking the DB11 for another spin, and head off for our own tour of Taupo and its attractions. Time flies and we return to the lodge for a pre-dinner couples massage — the perfect way to end a busy day. Blissed out, we float into dinner, and — for the second night — toast the good life.
• To discover more about the Aston Martin DB11, visit Astonmartin.co.nz
PUT IT IN THE DIARY
Plan a special winter weekend away to coincide with one of Huka Lodge’s special events:
The Craggy Range Big Red Dinner on Saturday July 29. Hosted by Craggy Range director Mary Jeanne Hutchinson, some of the vineyard’s best wines will be served with dishes from one of Australia’s most exciting, innovative chefs, Scott Pickett of Estelle by Scott Pickett, Melbourne.
Fireside Time is a series of evening speakers around the fire. Artist Dick Frizzell will feature on Saturday August 12, while the lodge’s executive chef Paul Froggatt will present a cooking demonstration on Saturday September 30.
• To find out more about Huka Lodge, its Romance packages, House Party packages and special events, visit Hukalodge.co.nz