Turangi, a trout fisherman’s town on the banks of New Zealand’s Tongariro River, is typically associated with 70’s-era lodges, where deer heads adorn pine walls. The remote River Birches aims for a dramatically different aesthetic. Created by Jason and Rebeca Bleibtreu, a globe-trotting couple based in Bangkok, the cedar inn is an East-meets-West collage of Thai silk curtains, Maori weavings, native rimu wood, and Burmese furniture. The three guest rooms are a stone’s throw from the river’s best angling pools; request the Admiral’s Room, which comes with a private outdoor cedar hot tub sheltered by monster ponga ferns. At night, wrap yourself in a wool throw and listen to the sounds of the Tongariro River.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.