My husband and I stayed at the River Birches Cottage with our two girls (age 3,5) in late July. We chose this location over Taupo due to its closer proximity to the Mt Ruapehu ski areas and I am so glad we did. Turangi is a lovely town right on the Tongariro River. It is small but has all the amenities (restaurants, supermarket etc) that you need on a holiday with a family.
The Cottage was gorgeous. Apparently it recently won an architectural award and I can see why. The living area is big, modern and open with lovely views from each of the numerous windows. It would be wonderful on a warm summer day when you could open the whole house out into the garden. The garden itself had a traditional English feel with a picturesque pond and great sitting area.
There are four bedrooms - a master with ensuite downstairs (which we didn't use because we wanted to be near the girls) and three bedrooms upstairs with a big family bathroom. We stayed in the large upstairs queen bedroom and the girls were in the twin room. The bedrooms are large with very comfortable beds and beautiful bed linen. The bathrooms are spotless, modern and luxurious with fluffy towels, quality natural bath products, heated towel rails(!) and heated tiled floors. The whole house is toasty warm due to the numerous heaters that you can easily adjust to the temperature you want.
I have stayed in a lot of self-contained accommodation particularly in Australia and often it is a bit musty or you feel you want to rinse all the cutlery and crockery before use but not here! The cottage and the kitchenware was immaculate. This is obviously a well managed property. The kitchen had everything you might need for a family visit or in fact to cater an eight course dinner party. When we arrived the fridge was stocked with bacon, eggs, tea, coffee, milk, bread, two types of cereal, butter and on the bench was a full bowl of fruit - none of which we were expecting so it was a lovely surprise. There was also a near new washing machine and dryer with soap powder provided.
Being a 3 minute walk from the river (and a fantastic suspension bridge) was great as was being able to see so many stars at night. We saw three shooting stars in fifteen minutes - a novelty for any city dweller. You can also hear the river from the cottage which is lovely particularly at night.
The drive to the Whakapapa ski fields was an easy 35 minutes and the manager of River Birches had recommended a ski hire place en route which was much cheaper than the on snow hire places (I think it was called Adventure Hut or something similar - service was excellent and very friendly). As we found almost everywhere we went in NZ the service at River Birches was wonderful. Very welcoming, very friendly and very helpful in providing information and tips on the local area. Also very welcoming of our small children.
While we were there we had a look at the rooms in the Lodge and they were also very nice. The Lodge had a warm, luxury feel that would be great for couples. For us though the Cottage was perfect. The rate we paid was not unreasonable either as they did not charge for the children. For what we got, we thought it was a very fair price.
We will definitely be back to this place, hopefully next time with more of the extended family. I can certainly see a Christmas lunch out in the Cottage garden in my future at some point!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Superbly located for the Tongariro crossing, fishing, and skiing getaways. River Birches is an exclusive retreat alongside the Tongariro River. Listed in Travel & Leisure Magazine’s Best of 2007. It features luxury accommodation equipped with Wi-Fi, fitness room and onsite chef. Qualmark: Five Star rated. ... more less
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