New Zealand lodges set the bar when it comes to fancy boltholes, decadent dining and sumptuous spa treatments but that’s not all – ultra-luxury activities are also part of the experience. Fancy a hit of golf, a spin in a helicopter, skiing or fishing – it’s all on tap at many of the five-star properties often perched on a clifftop or in the pristine wilderness.
For decades, the land of the long white cloud has been showing the rest of the world how luxe lodges should be done and have mastered the art of entertaining in a grand and understated style. There are now more than 20 New Zealand lodges that have that wow factor, attracting discerning well-heeled travellers who are after an indulgent break where they can be busy all day or enjoy some rest and relaxation in a great setting.
These fabulous lodges are all very different and reflect their own character but they share several characteristics – they are set in stunning scenery and if you stay once, you will want to return again and again. Here are 1o of the best.
The Lodge at Kinloch
The latest addition to New Zealand’s luxury lodge list is the Lodge at Kinloch that opened in January, overlooking the aquamarine-coloured Lake Taupo. Coveted Auckland architect Andrew Patterson was inspired by the original Kinloch Castle on Scotland’s Isle of Rum, adding a modern take to the spectacular design that sits above the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus designed golf course. The grand lodge built from schist stone shimmers as does the Virginia Fisher designed interior with her trademark mix of rich velvet, fur, leather and cowhide with lots of cosy nooks and window bays to soak up those spectacular views. The 10 one- and two-bedroom suites away from the main lodge feature cosy lounges, snug dens and marble bathrooms. Dining is an adventure with the best of New Zealand produce and wines.
Expect the best bird’s eye view ever when you arrive at Eagles Nest at Russell in the Bay of Islands. The five spacious luxury villas have sweeping views of the spectacular landscape and are nestled along a ridge line where eagles soar. Four of the five have infinity pools. The design resembles a bird’s nest. Dining is a great treat here with talented resident chefs and an impressive wine cellar on offer. A personal trainer is available and indulgent in-villa spa treatments are offered. The marine playground with 140 islands offers excellent boating activities as well as hikes but chances are you won’t want to leave – just soak up the ambience and spoil yourself.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
Fancy a veggie garden tour with the lodge gardener or a spot of after dinner star gazing – it is all possible at this beautiful lodge set in Hawke’s Bay wine country. The expansive sheep and cattle property with clifftops that plunge to the sea is also home to a gannet colony and kiwi reserve. If you love golf, the Tom Doak-designed par 71 course is perfect. Expect roaring open fires in winter in the lodge and outdoor conservatory area and spa treatments with views of the ocean and bucolic rolling hills. The 24 farm chic suites are very cosy with beautiful décor. Dining experiences are memorable and a reward for a hard round of golf or vigorous hike. Some of New Zealand’s best wineries are on the doorstep.
The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs
Set in the stunning Bay of Islands with showstopper views, the plantation-style main lodge features elegant dining rooms, a lounge perfect for evening drinks and a wide verandah where you can watch the action on the challenging David Harman-designed golf course with six dramatic cliff-side holes. The 22 guest suites have open fireplaces, private porches and great views and are nestled in native forest, while the two-bedroom owner’s cottage has its own pool. There’s a fabulous spa in the midst of a totara forest offering treatments such as the Kiwi Mud Wrap or Manuka Honey healing cocoon. Located on 2428 hectares near Matauri Bay, the Relais & Chateaux property overlooks the Pacific Ocean, Cape Brett and offshore Cavalli Islands. Visit Pink Beach for a spectacular picnic.
Huka Lodge was New Zealand’s first luxury lodge starting out from humble beginnings as a fishing shack built by Irishman Alan Pye more than 90 years ago. It is now a showplace when it comes to New Zealand lodges, with 25 riverside suites overlooking manicured lawns and the Waikato River. Virginia Fisher’s decor is outstanding and Huka is home to some of the best New Zealand cuisine and wine the country has to offer. The landmark luxury lodge at Taupo has 20 unique private dining options but there’s nothing like sitting by the roaring fire sipping a great New Zealand drop and watching the curious ducks waddle by. Experiences range from kayaking, helicopter trips, white water rafting and hiking.
Just minutes from Queenstown, the lodge sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu with stunning views of the aptly named mountain range, The Remarkables. The luxury hideaway boasts 12 suites each with private terraces overlooking the lake that changes colour frequently. Four suites are located in the main lodge which has Virginia Fisher’s stamp on it. The sister property to both the Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs, the three lodges are the dream of Julian Robinson and his family. The luxury suites are cosy with oversized bathtubs and open fireplaces as well as great views. Head chef Jonathan Rogers creates fabulous cuisine and the menu changes daily. The luxury hideaway is perfect for those who want to venture to the nearby skifields, wineries and golf courses or try their luck at fly fishing.
The magnificent stately homestead that was built in 1895 was the former residence of New Zealand politician and philanthropist, Sir Heaton Rhodes. Now in the caring hands of Hall Cannon and Miles Refo, it offers a taste of refined living and wonderful dining amid gracious Queen Anne architecture. Otahuna remains the largest privately-owned heritage-listed house in New Zealand. The seven luxuriously-appointed suites of which Sir Rhodes’ original bedroom is the largest, are perfect for a taste of country life. The historic gardens, vegetable patch and orchard are perfect for strolling and meals are a culinary adventure.
Blanket Bay Lodge
This ultimate alpine escape sits on the shores of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu overlooking green pastures, blue waters and the Humboldt mountain range. Built from New Zealand timber and rock, the Great Room in the main lodge has soaring ceilings and magnificent picture windows while The Den is perfect for intimate evening drinks. The lodge offers five lodge rooms, three spacious lodge suites in the main lodge and four chalet suites all with magnificent views and eclectic décor. Heli-skiing, heli-fishing and horseriding are popular activities at the lodge that is close to several of New Zealand’s iconic trout fishing rivers, the Greenstone and Caples.
There’s something about arriving by helicopter that gets the adrenalin rushing and the first glance of Minaret Station surrounded by the Southern Alps leaves you breathless. Located high above Lake Wanaka, Minaret Station was built by the four Wallis brothers on their sheep, cattle and deer property. The main lodge sits at the head of a glacial valley while the four luxury chalets come complete with hot tub, sheep skin carpet, beautiful views and all the comforts. Activities include hiking, scenic flights and wonderful tours in the helicopter to places as far afield as Milford Sound, heli-skiing, fishing and biking and even flights to pristine picnic spots for an unforgettable lunch. Meals are served in the Mountain Kitchen’s dining room, on the deck or in your chalet.
This historic cattle and sheep coastal property sits on the Banks Peninsula in Akaroa, near Christchurch. Built by the Hay family from Scotland, it was rejuvenated in 2005 by Mark Palmer and features a restored five bedroom stately homestead and three luxury villas – Scrubby Bay, Seascape and Shepherd’s Cottage. The properties have sweeping views of Pigeon Bay, luxury facilities and magnificent décor. Gourmet meals are prepared in the estate kitchen and delivered to your door. Cooking classes are also offered by coveted chef Paul Jobin and there is plenty to keep you busy on the working farm including tours of the property, mountain biking, tennis, croquet and heli-adventures. •
Photography by various establishments
Lodges North Island
• The Lodge at Kinloch: +64-7/377-8482; thekinlochclub.com
• Eagles Nest: +64-9/403 8333; eaglesnest.co.nz
• The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs: +64-9/407-0010; kauricliffs.com; relaischateaux.com
• The Farm at Cape Kidnappers: +64-6/ 875-1900; capekidnappers.com
• Huka Lodge: +64-7/378-5791; hukalodge.co.nz
Lodges South Island
• Matakauri: +64-3/441-1008; matakaurilodge.com
• Annandale: +64-3/304-6841; annandale.com
• Blanket Bay: +64-3/441-0115; blanketbay.com
• Minaret Station: +64-3/443-5860; minaretstation.com
• Otahuna: +64-3/329-6333; otahuna.co.nz
• Tourism New Zealand: newzealand.com
• Luxury Lodges of New Zealand: lodgesofnz.co.nz