With world-class dining, spectacular scenery and authentic kiwi hospitality, travelling through New Zealand via its acclaimed luxury lodges is the best way to capture the essence of this remarkable land.
For the Golfer: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
Set atop a stunning 2,400 hectare working farm at the heart of the Hawke’s Bay winebelt, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers delivers world-class accommodation and hospitality to one of the country’s most coveted golf courses. Developed by American hedge fund billionaire Julian Robertson, owner of sister properties Matakauri and Kauri Cliffs, this unique coastal retreat boasts just 22 guest suites, in addition to a beautifully-appointed four-bedroom Owner’s Suite. Each elegant farmhouse-style suite features interiors by designer Linda Bedell, king-sized beds, spacious bathrooms with over-sized bath tubs, wet bars, and lofty ceilings. But the real beauty is in the main lodge building, home to a sunkissed courtyard, fireplace snugs and a curated collection of local art. There’s a Balinese-themed spa, a heated infinity pool and fitness centre, an intimate wine cellar, and a Relais & Chateaux restaurant that capitalises on Hawke’s Bay’s outstanding local produce. If you’re not into golf, have the culinary team prepare you a picnic and explore the coastal cliffs on the Kiwi Discovery Walk; there are also Can-Am tours and opportunities to go horseback riding, wine tasting, kayaking or trout fishing. www.capekidnappers.com
For the Intrepid: Treetops Lodge & Estate
One of New Zealand’s most acclaimed luxury lodges, Treetops Lodge & Estate is nestled amidst an 800-year old native forest just outside the geothermal mecca of Rotorua. Created by passionate naturalist John Sax, Treetops showcases the very best of New Zealand through lavishly-appointed accommodation, sensational dining, and a raft of unique encounters that infuse the region’s Maori culture, its bucolic landscapes, and its world-class trout fishing legacy. With a pioneering eco-friendly architectural design that has won the property global praise, Treetops, which recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment, offers a variety of accommodation styles, including the traditional Lodge Wing, a four-room enclave ideally suited for families and friends travelling together, and a clutch of secluded villas. Each space is exquisitely decorated with custom furniture, fireplaces, high thread count linens, and objects d’ art. Guests can explore the estate’s seven trout-packed streams or wander 50 kilometres of adventure trails on geocaching hunts, hiking and 4WD experiences, while the lodge’s ground-breaking Maori Indigenous Food Trail, Estate to Plate Safari, and Wild Food Cooking School offer foodies unprecedented access to locally-sourced ingredients and traditional culinary culture. Be sure to leave time to visit the newly opened Spa, where a host of innovative Rituals of Treetops treatments guarantee to soothe both mind and body. www.treetops.co.nz
For the Design Savvy: Eagles Nest
Hidden away atop sea cliffs overlooking Northland’s beautiful Bay of Islands, this multi-award-winning, 30-hectare estate offers world-class accommodation married with a warm kiwi welcome. Accessible by road or helicopter from Auckland, Eagles Nest features clean, minimalist lines and plenty of glass to ensure the captivating view never loses your attention. Boasting just five stand-alone luxury villas, four of which have their own private infinity pools, Eagles Nest is a departure from the classic New Zealand lodge, where meals are served in a main lodge building and communality is always on the menu. Instead, there’s no lodge restaurant and each of the five villas come complete with a state-of-the-art kitchen (private chefs at the waiting), an expansive sun deck, refined furnishings and seamless technology. Guests can settle into their lavish from-home with a complementary bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne, rustle up the culinary team for private BBQs, select a few bottles from the extensive wine cellar, order an in-villa massage, and be seduced by Northland’s star filled nights. www.eaglesnest.co.nz
For the Purist: Huka Lodge
One of New Zealand’s most awarded lodges and the property which spearheaded the luxury lodge scene, Huka started life as a humble fishing cabin overlooking the iconic Huka Falls. Founded just outside Taupo in 1924, the property has developed in leaps and bounds; located on a nine-hectare private estate that edges up against the mighty Waikato River, Huka Lodge is wreathed by heritage-listed gardens and features 18 junior Lodge Suites, one Lodge Suite, a four bedroom Owner’s Cottage and a sumptuous two-bedroom Alan Pye Cottage, named for the Irish founder. Expect thoughtful interiors by Virginia Fisher dressed in cream, honey and lavender, with monogrammed bed linen, private terraces, well-lit bathrooms with deep soak tubs, and captivating river views.
Dining has always been at the heart of the Huka Lodge experience, with guests offered 20 private dining rooms in which to feast on the world-class cuisine of British executive chef Paul Froggatt, which is laced with locally-sourced ingredients from the central North Island. www.hukalodge.co.nz
For the Active Soul: Matakauri Lodge
The six-year old sibling of acclaimed North Island golf destination lodges Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, Matakauri brings a more contemporary feel to the South Island. Positioned overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the towering Tooth Peaks ranges, Matakauri features just 12 guest rooms, with four located in the main lodge, and the rest scattered across the clifftops. Each boasts clean, modern décor that takes its design cues from autumn in Otago, as well as a gas fireplace, private balcony, flatscreen TVs hidden behind artwork, and quite possibly the best bathtub views in the world. The Owner’s Cottage, the lodge’s penthouse, accommodates eight in absolute luxury. The warm colours of the suites are continued in the main lodge, where breakfast and dinner is served in the intimate dining room, on the outdoor patio, or in the private library. Head chef Jonathan Roger’s menus are inspired by the produce of the deep south and his everchanging à la carte offerings are laced with the likes of roasted scallops with black pudding and beurre noisette; North Island terakihi with mussels and dill; and smoked Otago duck with beetroot, goat’s curd and blood orange. www.matakaurilodge.com
For the Solitude Seeker: Annandale
Nestled in Pigeon Bay, at the tip of the Banks Peninsula, Annandale is the modern face of New Zealand’s luxury lodge movement. Envisioned by New Zealand-born real estate tycoon Mark Palmer, Annandale isn’t really one property but a collection of four, each vastly different from the next, and each spaced a good 30-minute drive across a working farm from each other, ensuring the ultimate in privacy. In addition to the historic and beautifully restored Homestead; the rustic elegance of Shepard’s Cottage; and the open-plan, family-friendly living of Scrubby Bay, Seascape, a one-room glass-encased retreat overlooking a remote bay wreathed by a stony beach and rocky headlands, can be accessed directly via helicopter from Christchurch.
A stunning, unashamedly modern, open-plan villa, Seascape offers mesmerising sea views, a duo of gas fireplaces, an outdoor Jacuzzi, a kitchen with Miele appliances, and a deep soak tub with little between it and the expanses of the Pacific. While not a traditional lodge, Seascape offers the same chance to become a part of the landscape, to slow down, sleep in, and leave the rest of the world behind. To that end, guests can choose to have a chef cook up a storm in the butler’s pantry; have raw ingredients delivered; or opt for the “we create, you serve” approach, which has executive chef Paul Jobin prepare a gourmet dish packed with ingredients from the farm’s own gardens that are vacuum packed and need minimal preparation. www.annandale.com
For the Traditionalist: Blanket Bay
Situated just outside Glenorchy, a hidden Eden at the western end of Lake Wakatipu, Blanket Bay is regularly listed among the leading luxury lodges of the world. Purpose built, the lodge is flanked by the lake on one side and imposing peaks on the other. Designed by US architect Jim McLaughlin and built using locally-sourced schist rock and recycled timber, Blanket Bay boasts 12 luxurious guest rooms and suites, including four elegant standalone Chalets. In addition, within the main lodge building there are cavernous living rooms with double-height picture windows and towering fireplaces, intimate bars, a modern games room, a duo of wine caves, a spa and fitness centre, a seasonal outdoor pool, and an indoor spa that looks through French windows to the lake. Located at the base of the Southern Alps, the lodge is the perfect jumping-off point for travellers looking to explore Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park by helicopter, the Dart River by high-powered speedboat, or the ancient rainforests and towering peaks of the Mount Aspiring National Park on foot. Here the flyfishing is phenomenal, the heli-skiing the best in the Southern Hemisphere, and the horseriding sensational. Guests return to dinner cooked by multi-award winning executive chef Corey Hume and served in the cozy Lake View Dining Room. www.blanketbay.com
For the Fanciful: Hapuku Lodge & Treehouses
Located on the east coast of the South Island, near Kaikoura famous for its whale viewing, and flanked by olive groves and a deer farm, Hapuku is best known for its chic treehouses. Owner Tony Wilson was passionate about treehouses as a child and this unique property boasts four sumptuous suites in the main lodge, and five uber-cool treehouses beyond. Each Hapuku Lodge Suite boasts spectacular views of the Kaikoura Mountain Range; the Olive House Suite, a spacious apartment, also features a kitchen, open-plan bathroom with spa tub and rain shower, and a fireplace.
Most guests come to this chic country house for the innovative treehouses, each of which are perched 10 metres above the ground and are nestled in a canopy of Manuka trees. With a touch of the Swiss Family Robinson, these treehouses are elevated on stilts and are dressed in locally crafted timber, with custom furniture produced by local artisans. There’s a duo of rocking chairs and a wood-burning fireplace, a bathroom with floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the rural bliss, anintimate balconies with outdoor Jacuzzis for great star gazing. For couples travelling with children, two of the treehouses also boast an additional downstairs bedroom.
After days spent deep sea fishing or searching for the humpback whales which graze off the coast throughout the year, return to the Lodge for world-class cuisine that makes the most of the property’s own vegetable gardens, and partnerships with local fishermen and hunters. Dishes like fresh local crayfish and venison with wild blackberries, matched with the best wines from Marlborough, are the ideal way to finish up your luxurious sojourn through Middle Earth. www.hapukulodge.com
For the Glamper: Minaret Station
A true departure from the traditional lodge model, Minaret Station marries luxury and the rugged outdoors to perfection. Only accessible by helicopter, Minaret Station is hidden away 3,000ft up in the Southern Alps, in the shadows of Mount Aspiring. Situated on a 26,000 hectare station that’s home to just four luxuriously appointed Alpine Chalets (two tented, two hard walled), each of which features sheepskin carpeting, king-sized beds, ensuite bathrooms, and private in-deck hot tubs, the camp takes privacy and luxury to whole new levels.
Powered by its own hydro-electric system, and constructed from timber and stone harvested from the station, Minaret Station’s main lodge building may have a rugged exterior but inside are gleaming timber floors, a complimentary wet bar, and a communal dining room where head chef Jeremy Simeon serves European and Asian fusion cuisine matched with the best drops from Central Otago. Spend your days ‘tramping’ through Middle Earthlike scenery; take the helicopter to coastal islands for crayfish dives; go sailing on Lake Wanaka; or drop in at some of the region’s best cellar doors, and return in time for an al fresco soak under the stars. www.minaretstation.com