Not only that, this hotel was constructed during the ‘Roaring Twenties’. Just imagine what a house in The Great Gatsby might’ve looked like. Well, Cheteau Tongariro looks like that – grand arched windows with mountain views, roaring open fires, chandeliers in their dining halls, and the list goes on. You simply couldn’t drive past this hotel without stopping!
After receiving a flyer, I was amazed at how cheap high tea here was compared to back at home in Australia (only $25NZD per person!). Plus, the Lounge Bar had a perfect view of the three mountains! Forget all our other plans for the day, high tea was where it was at!
We chose a seat near the corner, which allowed us to have an almost-180-degree view. We could see green grass that went beyond the horizon without another building in sight, and Mount Ngauruhoe right in front of us. When we turned around, we saw the rustic yet charming interior of the lounge. This place was just perfect for sitting back and relaxing.
The Lounge Bar also had a grand piano and a billiard table, adding to the relaxed and charming vibe that Chateau Tongariro Hotel establishes.
Flipping through the high tea menu, there were so many choices of teas that the four of us all got different ones just so we could try each other’s.
I eventually went for a ‘Strawberry Kiwi Fruit’: “full of zesty flavours and brews a gorgeous crimson-red colour. A perfect blend of dried strawberry and kiwi fruit pieces with rosehips and hibiscus“. Someone else went with a ‘Lemon Herbal’: “Lemongrass is the predominant aroma of this delightful infusion. The addition of lemon rind and lemon flavour make this a light, soothing and calming drink“. My other companion went with a ‘Paris Black’: “A careful blend of black teas and a trifecta of goodness: creamy vanilla, caramel and currant. Elegant, sophisticated and very chic“. My final companion went with a ‘Green with Coconut Green’: “Be transported to Thailand as you sip delicious handpicked green teas blended with coconut, lemongrass and ginger with a hint of vanilla“.
As expected, the Lounge Bar offers more than just high-tea. In fact, when we looked around, there was about a fifty-fifty division of people enjoying high tea or an afternoon tea on that lazy Tuesday afternoon.
Our teas were superb overall. I might sound a little biased, but after trying all 4 teas, my own fruit tea was still my favourite. It was also one of my companion’s favourites. I also really enjoyed the unique combination of the lemongrass & coconut tea, and would be more than willing to try that again. Personally, I’m not a fan of black tea, so I probably shouldn’t give my opinion on the Paris black tea…. The lemon herbal tea was very aromatic, however, it was too bitter for my liking….
The high tea itself was superb to say the least. The selection of bite-size sandwiches were very well thought out. There was a diverse range of sandwich fillings- smoked salmon, eggs & mayonnaise, vegetarian and chicken & vegetables. The scones were cooked perfectly. You could smell the butter even before your first bite, and we were also given just enough jam and cream. The combination in every bite was so good that we couldn’t resist double dipping… Such high-class citizens, hey?
The selection of small cakes was not only aesthetically pleasing, but also all very appetising. It consisted of a chocolate brownie, creme brûlée, a piece of fudge, a delectable chocolate ball and what we thought was a cheesecake cupcake (?). It was a fusion of both classic and experimental desserts, which kept us guessing, and kept us enjoying every bite. The downside was that my body couldn’t handle the sugar overload, but I guess that’s what the tea was there for, hey?
Overall, I don’t think I can praise the experience enough with words. The staff were also all very attentive and came from all corners of the world. In our short visit, we were served by staff from the UK, France, Israel and Brazil. All this with a direct view of Mount Ngauruhoe while sipping on our teas and munching on luscious food.
While it was freezing outside, we were also sitting in the warmth of an open fire that was being attended to regularly by staff.
All in all, having high tea at Chateau Tongariro Hotel is an experience that all foodies or travellers should have on their bucket-list. After I’d uploaded a photo of my high tea on my private Facebook account, at least 10 of my close friends asked me within a minute where it was. And don’t even worry about putting on any weight, you’re sure to walk it off when you go on one of the many walks at Tongariro National Park!