hotel reviews New Zealand

River Birches, our stay near Taupo | New Zealand |

After two big days of sightseeing (Hobbiton and Waitomo), it was time to head near Lake Taupo, relax, eat a great dinner and wake up the next day ready to drive another 360km.

This post is part of our New Zealand adventures series:

  1. Northland
  2. Driving South – Kerikeri to Rotorua
  3. Rotorua
  4. Hobbiton
  5. Waitomo Glowworm Caves
  6. River Birches, our stay near Taupo
  7. 2 days in Wellington + drive from Turangi
  8. One day in Christchurch
  9. Mt Cook adventures

River Birches

Charming lodge nestled in greenery. There are three guest rooms, two open living areas with fireplaces, big kitchen and a garden. Interior features a lot of wood, which makes the place unbelievably cosy.


Our room, The Admiral’s Room, is at the opposite side of the house from the other two rooms. It’s quiet and private. Large bed, walk-in robe, tv neatly hidden in a cabinet. Mini bar with tea and coffee making facilities is also stocked with New Zealand wines, champagne, soft drinks and a selection of beer.


Ensuite bathroom has quite a big bathtub and separate toilet & shower. Ever since I spotted a small jar with bath salt (and beautiful hand-milled soaps from Thailand) I wanted to take a long relaxing bath. And to make the experience even more relaxing there were also small candles waiting on the side ready with a lighter. Oooh, and did I mention the underfloor heating?


The next day welcomed us with a cold but sunny morning. It was snowing in the mountains.

After breakfast, made to order by the manager – Anthea, I had a look around the garden (there is also a cottage available) and felt sad I have to leave. It would be great to stay a few days longer, sit in the garden, read a book… But it was time to continue our NZ roadtrip, time to go to Wellington.

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River Birches Lodge is set right next to the Tongariro River. With a swing bridge just a few steps away it’s easy to go for a walk along the river. It’s also a good base for Taupo or Tongariro Park trips.

If you have any questions or need ideas where to go, what to see or where to head for dinner – ask Anthea, she knows the area very well and will be happy to help you.

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We chose the River Vineyard & Restaurant for our dinner. It’s about 5 minutes drive from the lodge, a bit tricky when it’s dark outside and you don’t know in which street exactly you should turn, but if you get it right then you just have to follow signs.

It was quiet inside, only one other table with patrons and service felt almost exclusive. We started, as usual when there is such option, with pate – duck liver pate, served with toasted house made bread. And then I couldn’t resist and try (for the first time in my life!) some venison. It was an instant hit – Why I’ve never tried it before? I’m going to have it every day now! (spoiler alert: I didn’t eat it every day…)


My husband chose a bit safer – beef scotch fillet, and I think I saw a bit of food envy in his eyes. I was in heaven, eating the tender meat paired with a glass of lovely syrah and thought of a bubble bath waiting for me at “home”.

Pleasant dinner + glass of wine + coffee cost us NZ$88.20.


Stay courtesy of River Birches. All opinions and photos are my own.

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