By Rachel Grunwell
Bush walks are nearly always beautiful. But in the spectacular surrounds of the Treetops Lodge & Estate, hiking through an 800-year-old native forest to reach the majestic Bridal Veil Falls was extra special. I stood in awe, then reached for the sky and performed some calming yoga movements, feeling truly alive and energised.
Treetops Lodge & Estate is a world-class wilderness resort, hidden in 10,000 square metres of native forest, just outside Rotorua. Its grounds are so richly verdant that you feel like you are being ‘hugged’ by nature. Besides the occasional roar of a deer or an outburst of birdsong, this hunting-style lodge is incredibly peaceful.
The lodge’s grand, main complex boasts a giant fireplace, Māori carvings, luxury furnishings, and a cathedral-height ceiling. In other rooms, you can play pool, read in an elaborate library, or look at world-class art.
The food at Treetops is exquisite and sourced organically – from the ‘estate to plate’ – whenever possible. You can dine solo, or join other guests for a delicious seven-course meal. One of the dinner highlights I loved was a dish of cold-smoked lamb tartare, garden beetroot, almond, and quinoa.
After dinner, guests can retreat to their own private villa to relax, soak in a giant spa bath, and gaze out over thousands of treetops shrouded in cloud.
The abundance of activities for guests to enjoy include helicopter adventures, more than 50 kilometres of hiking tracks, horse trekking, mountain biking, hunting, fly fishing, archery, cooking lessons, and four-wheel drive safaris.
A Treetops signature experience I will never forget was indulging in a holistic romiromi Māori massage at the recently upgraded spa.
Masseuse Wikitoria Oman started this sacred treatment with a 4,000-year-old Māori prayer (kaupare). She blessed my ancestors and honoured me. Using natural kawakawa oil, Wikitoria began a deep-tissue massage, stimulating pressure points to release toxins and realign my body. At times a special pounamu (greenstone) was used as a massage tool.
Oman said the treatment balanced my life essence (mauri): “This treatment is grounding and helps you to open up the heart and any areas of your body that are out of balance.”
I left smiling, feeling lighter and uplifted.