Romance on the river

River Birches, a lodge in New Zealand, is the perfect place to escape the rat race.
River Birches, a lodge in New Zealand, is the perfect place to escape the rat race. Detours

SPRING is upon us and it's the perfect season to escape the rat race for a few days to discover the romance of life with someone you love.

New Zealand is just far enough away from Australia's east coast to qualify for an exotic overseas escape, yet close enough to be a totally manageable destination for a long weekend away.

The land of the long white cloud is known for its fabulous scenery - but just as renowned for its amazing luxury lodges, most of which are tucked away in the most beautiful parts of this stunning country.

River Birches is one of these hidden gems. Located at the end of a cul-de-sac in New Zealand's trout fishing capital, Turangi, the lodge is a one-minute walk to the river through a grove of silver birch, copper beech, oak and redwood.

The lodge has just three double rooms, all named for trout pools - Admiral's, Duchess's and Major's - in the nearby Tongariro River.

Two of the guest rooms - Admiral's and Duchess's - are in the main house, with the Major's room separated from it by a small deck.

The Admiral's room has its own private outdoor cedar hot tub, heated to around 42 degrees and accessed by a short garden path.

The perfect way to end a day at this understated luxury lodge in the central North Island, is gazing up at diamond-cut stars in a crystalline sky from the warmth of your hot tub.

Rates are NZ$385 double for the Duchess's room, NZ$475 for the Major's, and NZ$515 for the Admiral's room, with breakfast.

For more information visit the Richer Birches website.

Lee Mylne is former president of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.

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