PURE BLISS

Com­fort, lux­ury and pris­tine river­side sur­rounds make Huka Lodge one of the world’s finest es­capes.

VOGUE Australia - - Content - By Ed­wina McCann.

Com­fort, lux­ury and pris­tine river­side sur­rounds make Huka Lodge one of the world’s finest es­capes.

Huka Lodge, on New Zealand’s North Is­land near Lake Taupo, is le­gendary. The lux­ury re­treat and fish­ing lodge has hosted roy­als, Mi­uc­cia Prada, Bill Gates and numer­ous other fa­mous peo­ple. But if rugby is your thing, I rec­om­mend you do not book your stay to co­in­cide with a Bledis­loe Cup game, as I did. The All Blacks de­feat­ing the Wal­la­bies made watch­ing the match with a group of Ki­wis in the beau­ti­fully ap­pointed Tro­phy Room al­most un­bear­able. Even the ex­quis­ite wines se­lected from the most ex­ten­sive and beau­ti­ful cel­lar could not numb the pain caused by my fel­low guests vic­to­ri­ous and joy­ous to have two Aus­tralians in the room to tease.

That, how­ever, was the only mo­ment of hu­mor­ous dis­com­fort in an other­wise per­fect week­end, which be­gan with a pri­vate din­ner in a pavil­ion lo­cated on seven hectares of man­i­cured grounds be­side a rapidly flow­ing river famed for its in­cred­i­ble fly fish­ing.

Din­ner – and ev­ery meal we ex­pe­ri­enced by Miche­lin starawarded chef Paul Frog­gatt – was ex­cep­tional. And the trout is a must – es­pe­cially if you have caught it your­self.

Huka Lodge prides it­self on be­ing out­stand­ing, hence its in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing one of the best fly fish­ing lodges in the world. In 2016, Condé Nast Trav­eller named it the best ho­tel in New Zealand, which places Huka in the com­pany of le­gendary ho­tels such as Le Bris­tol in Paris and Hô­tel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the An­tibes. And if fly fish­ing is not your thing, there are plenty of other ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing golf and a choice of many cour­ses – a favourite be­ing Wairakei In­ter­na­tional Golf Course just five min­utes’ drive away. There is also bik­ing, glid­ing, hunt­ing, kayak­ing, horse rid­ing and, in true New Zealand ad­ven­ture-travel style, quad ex­cur­sions and bungy jump­ing. Although the spa treat­ments in the room made it very tempt­ing to just stay in.

Our home for our week­end was the stun­ning Alan Pye Cot­tage, named after the founder who in the 1920s es­tab­lished an un­ri­valled rep­u­ta­tion for su­perb hos­pi­tal­ity that con­tin­ues to this day. Call­ing it a cot­tage when it has its own kitchen, swim­ming pool, dou­ble bed­rooms, se­cluded court­yard gar­den, per­sonal but­ler and chef hardly does it justice. It is re­ally the home you have al­ways dreamt of, de­signed by New Zealand-born in­te­rior de­signer Vir­ginia Fisher. There are also 18 ju­nior suites with river views and an Owner’s Cot­tage, which might more ac­cu­rately be de­scribed as a Hamp­tons man­sion. Per­fect for a fam­ily or group of friends, it has four gen­er­ous suites and its own but­ler and chef on re­quest. At Huka Lodge they are used to host­ing peo­ple who are used to the best, and so the best is just what they de­liver, in the most friendly and lux­u­ri­ous man­ner. Go to www.hukalodge.co.nz.

THE OWNER’S COT­TAGE MIGHT MORE AC­CU­RATELY BE DE­SCRIBED AS A HAMP­TONS MAN­SION

“THERE IS NO WAY I COULD HAVE FASTTRACKED TO WHERE I AM TO­DAY”

con­nec­tions with peo­ple. “[In in­ter­views] you want to con­nect with ev­ery­one you meet, that’s the nat­u­ral in­stinct, and give some­thing wor­thy of … what­ever.” She is ob­sessed with watch­ing The Bach­e­lor, and gives me a blow-by-blow ac­count of the var­i­ous Amer­i­can it­er­a­tions of the re­al­ity tele­vi­sion show. “Once they get past the first rose cer­e­mony, they start pro­mot­ing them­selves and prod­ucts – you see them on In­sta­gram and I go down this hole which is point­less, but it’s my guilty plea­sure. It’s a sort of ge­nius that they get paid for be­ing re­al­ity stars, then their 15 min­utes of fame is up and they just fade back, which is a bless­ing,” she says with an in­cred­u­lous laugh.

“My first im­pres­sion of Amanda was that she was frag­ile and very, very sen­si­tive and per­haps un­able to pro­tect her­self,” re­mem­bers MacLaine, who be­came close with Seyfried on the set of the film The Last Word. “It didn’t take long for me to wake up: she’s per­fectly ca­pa­ble of han­dling any big sit­u­a­tion.” The film also stars Sa­doski. “One of the most mem­o­rable [mo­ments with Seyfried] is that I hap­pened to be wit­ness to the de­vel­op­ment of her re­la­tion­ship with her now fi­ancé: they play to­gether in the movie,” MacLaine con­tin­ues. “I watched the love af­fair of the ac­tors at the same time as the char­ac­ters.”

Seyfried re­ally does seem to en­joy ini­ti­at­ing a gen­uine con­nec­tion with those she meets, ab­hor­ring the press jun­ket ex­pe­ri­ence. “They are the worst thing, be­cause they’re not nat­u­ral. You want to be nat­u­ral and or­ganic, and you just can’t in four min­utes. It’s stupid. Also ev­ery­body asks the same fuck­ing ques­tion.” Be­neath her ap­par­ent sweet­ness she is qui­etly de­ter­mined. Speak­ing of one of her up­com­ing films: “If it turns out that peo­ple don’t love it, like crit­ics don’t love it or it has a bad Rot­ten Toma­toes score or peo­ple are con­fused by it, tough shit. Like, I can’t do any­thing else.” She also re­minds me that she’s com­pet­i­tive. “Very – with Words with Friends, he [Sa­doski] just played a word worth 58 points, so I re­signed! You know you’re go­ing to lose any­way.”

On more san­guine top­ics of love and ro­mance, she planned her sis­ter’s 125-guest wed­ding last year at the farm at Stone Ridge, get­ting in­volved with all el­e­ments of dec­o­rat­ing and co-or­di­nat­ing. “Even though it was the hap­pi­est day of my life, it was her day. I am so done plan­ning wed­dings – it was amaz­ing but it took a whole year!” she says, re­count­ing how she sourced flow­ers and vin­tage vases for the day. “All the de­tails – I’m very cre­ative, and I love it.” She is con­stantly on Etsy look­ing for knick-knacks – cur­rently she’s fix­ated on enamel pins, which she uses to dec­o­rate gifts – or brows­ing In­sta­gram for in­te­rior and craft in­spi­ra­tion. “I love knit­ting and cro­chet­ing; I wish more peo­ple talked to me about that.” I sug­gest start­ing an Etsy alias and sell­ing her cre­ations. “I’ve thought about that, ac­tu­ally, but I don’t want to part with them!”

Com­ing to terms with her fame and her cult sta­tus with fans of films like Mean Girls al­lows her to utilise her celebrity to pro­mote and to be a part of causes she feels pas­sion­ate about, such as pol­i­tics and an­i­mal wel­fare, even if she mod­estly admits that her knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of cur­rent af­fairs and such is “-ish”. “There are so many peo­ple get­ting paid on In­sta­gram, it blows my mind. A lot of these mod­els are get­ting thou­sands of dol­lars for each of those posts. It’s like, I un­der­stand that you are get­ting paid, but [if ] you have that many peo­ple fol­low­ing you, just fuck­ing say some­thing im­por­tant. Just once a week. It’s so easy to post or re­post some­thing, thought­less even, you don’t even have to care, just do your due dili­gence and just use that fuck­ing plat­form.”

She admits that it’s hard to keep up, es­pe­cially with the on­slaught of neg­a­tive news hap­pen­ing around the world. “I used to be re­ally rigid about stuff and I just re­laxed a lit­tle bit about things. I used to judge peo­ple re­ally harshly and now I just do my re­search on them.”

She di­gresses into an anec­do­tal ex­am­ple, as she is wont to do. “To be re­ally spe­cific, I read Hil­lary Clin­ton’s book and I read a book about Don­ald Trump. Not that I am ever go­ing to vote for him, I’ve al­ways been a huge Clin­ton fan, but in­stead of mak­ing bla­tant ig­no­rant as­sump­tions about peo­ple just on what I hear and what other peo­ple in my life are think­ing, I do have to take all of that out and con­sider facts and ac­tu­ally get ed­u­cated on things, whereas I used to just get re­ally pas­sion­ate about things I didn’t re­ally know about,” she says. “I don’t know if that is a stupid an­swer but, like, read the books! Not even read the books, just do some re­search!”

Self-re­flec­tive and con­sci­en­tious, Seyfried takes time out on her own, pre­fer­ring to stay at home or re­treat to her farm, away from New York, where she has spent much of her work­ing life. She avoids events – “I hate get­ting ready. I rarely leave my house. I just hate the whole process,” she says. Later, after our FaceTime in­ter­view, she will need to pre­pare for a cat sanc­tu­ary gala event, where she will be hon­oured for her work with an­i­mals. (“Sorry, I have to go now!” she’ll fin­ish off the in­ter­view. “But thanks for let­ting me meet your dog!” after my dog makes an im­promptu cameo, and Seyfried is a noted an­i­mal fan, hence the award. “And text me if you have any more questions!”)

And although she has spent much of her work­ing life in New York, she’s get­ting over the city some­what. “My re­la­tion­ship with New York has changed dra­mat­i­cally,” she says, ex­plain­ing that while the city has re­mained the same, she’s been find­ing it too much, too claus­tro­pho­bic. “It’s too busy and I’m a home­body. I’m anx­ious to be­gin with.” She has long been vo­cal about liv­ing with anx­i­ety, help­ing to de-stig­ma­tise talk­ing about men­tal ill­ness. “I’ve re­ally spent a lot of time study­ing my anx­i­ety and the trig­gers, the why and the pos­si­bil­ity of why, and I’ve learnt the tools that work for me in order to func­tion, and I think the more you know about your­self the bet­ter off you are, with any­thing in life,” she says, care­fully de­scrib­ing her own men­tal pro­cesses. “I was grow­ing at such a fast rate when I was 29, but there is no way I could have fast-tracked to where I am to­day in my head. You have to ex­pe­ri­ence those aw­ful years. I am def­i­nitely in a bet­ter place with my anx­i­ety and I have a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship with it than I ever have,” she says, while pat­ting her dog, Finn, who has nudged his way into her FaceTime frame – maybe re­mind­ing her to get a move on. “I feel like you have to go through shit some­times to get to the good part.”

1920s and 30s ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments in­side the Alan Pye Cot­tage. Alan Pye Cot­tage’s stone out­door pavil­ion.

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