Rich in culture and heritage, Northland, New Zealand’s upper north region, is where the young country’s story began with the merging of Maori and European cultures giving birth to a nation. Today, Northland has climbed to the top of the most discerning traveller’s wish list, thanks to its subtropical, sunny climate and relaxed style combined with secluded luxury lodges, exceptional food and wine, and immersive experiences that get you closer to the hidden gems, delighting the soul as much as the senses.
With its diverse, bespoke luxury experiences set against a backdrop of stunning coastal landscape, ancient native bushland, and charming seaport towns, Northland proves the silver lining of the land of the long white cloud has never been shinier.
Just a 40-minute flight from Auckland, Northland’s largest town is steeped in history and is home to one of the most significant heritage sites in the country, Kororipo Heritage Park. Sitting on the riverbank of Kerikeri Basin, it is here you’ll find Rewa’s Village, a reconstruction of an early Maori village, and Kerikeri Mission Station, where Kemp House and Stone Store, the two oldest buildings in New Zealand stand.
Well known for its artisanal food, fresh produce and local arts scene, Kerikeri hosts popular farmers and craft markets every weekend as well as offering plenty of opportunity to sample the local fare at its many great vineyards, chocolate boutiques, and local cafes.
Half an hour further north, you’ll reach the rolling green hills, white sandy beaches, and clear waters of Matauri Bay. Pristine and picturesque, it’s a popular holiday spot, offering ample opportunities for water sports, fishing, boating, horse riding, and camping out on the beach. From the hills, you can see the Cavalli Islands where the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior vessel, sunk by the French in 1985, lies underwater, now covered in corals that attract an abundance of colourful fish, making it one of the top dive sites in the world.
Sitting on 2,630 hectares of immaculate landscaping, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs enjoys expansive panoramic views of Matauri Bay. This five-star, premium luxury Relais & Chateaux property offers 22 beautifully-appointed guest suites, each featuring an open fireplace, lounge area, private terrace, walk-in wardrobe and ensuite. The exclusive Owner’s Cottage is a home away from home and is ideal for families or groups. Beautifully furnished, it features a spacious lounge and dining area, generous ensuite bathrooms, open fireplaces, a study which is easily converted into an extra sleeping area, and an outdoor, sea-facing patio with infinity pool and Jacuzzi.
In the elegant, plantation-style main lodge, you’ll find plush, comfortable lounges, stylish dining rooms, a library, and a wooden deck wrapping around the entire property, affording uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean and the lodge’s own world-class championship golf course. The spa, secluded in a private Totara forest oasis, uses healing Manuka honey in its treatment products, while the cuisine showcases the best of local produce and seafood in a seven-course tasting menu, with premium wine matching.
Around the property, there’s plenty to explore with walking, biking and horse riding tracks, some of which lead to the delightful Pink Beach where you can enjoy a beachfront picnic barbecue before a refreshing swim.
RUSSEL AND PAIHIA
A popular holiday destination for locals and international visitors alike, Paihia bustles throughout the summer months thanks to its dynamic mix of harbour-front cafes, restaurants, and shops. A great spot from which to explore the Bay of Islands, you can take a leisurely stroll through native bush to the stunning Haruru Falls, visit the nearby Waitangi Treaty grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and take a ferry to ‘Romantic Russell’.
Quaint and charming, Russell was the country’s first sea port, first European settlement, first capital, and first liquor license, to this day framed on the wall of The Duke of Marlborough pub! Proud of its heritage, the town has maintained its original layout and street names and welcomes visitors to explore its many historic buildings. Its waterfront setting, boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants give the town its romantic appeal.
Perched on the top of a hill above Russell, is the multi-award winning uber-luxury lodge retreat, Eagles Nest. A member of the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio, and enjoying a prime location of secluded bliss, it has just five private villas, all with unprecedented views over the Bay of Islands, luxurious furnishings, Jacuzzis, state-of-the-art technologies, and expansive decks. But the jewel in the crown is Rahimoana, shining like a beacon from her throne at the very top of her own private headland. This jaw-dropping, opulent, four-ensuite bedroom property is bathed in shades of pale grey and white with sapphire blue and emerald green accents.
Its granite floors, modern minimalist all-white furnishings, and floor-to-ceiling windows from which the light drenches every inch of space, exude an ethereal feel. It’s all about airy, open spaces, with generously sized living and entertaining areas merging with one another, a gym, sauna, indoor courtyard, two fireplaces, and a three-metre sliding glass wall spilling out onto the balcony. The 25-metre infinity pool seamlessly blends and becomes one with the ocean backdrop, further enhancing the harmony of the architecture with the environment. From up here, you can hear waves gently lapping onto your own private beach below, as you take in the unforgettable 300-degree panoramic sunsets from the infinity pool, Jacuzzi, outdoor dining area, or numerous sun loungers.
While you may feel as though you’re on the top of the world up here, the privacy is exceptional, and you even have your own helipad to arrive and depart from. The service is attentive yet unobtrusive, with talented resident chefs, spa therapists and personal trainers arriving when you need them, for indulgent in-villa dining experiences and pamper sessions. Anything you want here, it can be arranged.
For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, take an exclusive, scenic helicopter ride with Salt Air Tours over the islands and land on top of the famous Hole in the Rock. Its unique formation and ecosystem has attracted visitors from all over the world, and for the first time ever, you can now experience this unique landmark from a completely different perspective by landing on the newly built helipad at the very top of the island.
Located on the Purerua Peninsula in the northwestern Bay of Islands, is The Landing – a unique conservation property, rich in heritage sites, unspoilt beaches and islands, lush native forest, and native wildlife. It is a place of deep historic significance as it is the landing place where Maori and European settlers met and traded. Walking tracks through rolling hills, native bush, and along the coastline will lead you to protected historic and archaeological sites on Hohi Bay, where you can still find artefacts of old Maori settlements dating back between 200 and 700 years. Nearby, Marsden Cross marks the country’s first missionary settlement where Reverend Samuel Marsden gave his first sermon on Christmas Day 1814, and on the headland, a large Norfolk pine stands proudly, planted in 1817 to celebrate the birth of the first European child born on New Zealand land.
The Landing Residences are a group of four private, premium luxury, self-contained holiday villas set on 404 hectares of coastal farmland. Furnished to the highest standard with beautifully-appointed indoor and outdoor areas, and state-of-the-art technologies, each villa is a unique architectural masterpiece in its own right, offering secluded luxury and comfort in an exceptional, natural setting. While they vary in size, they can be booked individually or together, allowing you the flexibility of choice. The Boathouse enjoys a serene beachfront location, and sleeps four, with generous indoor-outdoor living and entertaining areas, a twin guest room, and a master bedroom on the mezzanine. Gabriel Residence sits above the bay with four king bedrooms, luxurious ensuites, four self-contained indoor living areas, and expansive outdoor spaces. Nestled amongst The Landing’s own vineyard, the aptly named Vineyard Villa has two king rooms and a master suite, with three separate entertaining areas and glass walls which completely open up, transforming the space into an outdoor sanctuary. And finally, the owner’s villa, the dramatic Cooper Residence. Sitting on a hilltop and offering expansive panoramic views, this is the largest property and can sleep 12 people, with five luxurious bedroom suites, large-scale indoor and outdoor areas, a library, an impressive cellar housing The Landing’s wines, and boasts an incredible collection of historic photographs, Maori artefacts, art and books.
In-villa services include anything you need, with the service tailored specifically to your requirements for a truly personal experience. Dining is a highlight, with meals freshly prepared with organic, local produce, most of which is grown on the property, and full of clean flavour.
While there is a fully-equipped gym and tennis court, The Landing is all about connecting with the nature and history of this unique place, and you can immerse yourself in a number of water activities, enjoy walking and biking trails, sail around neighbouring islands on luxury catamaran Cool Change, indulge in wine tastings, kayak out to the small islands for a picnic lunch, go kiwi spotting at night, and forage for ingredients before a private cooking class.
Whatever you decide and however deep you want to go, the beauty of it is that it’s all up to you. •
Photography courtesy various establishments.
• Air New Zealand flies daily from all Australian capital cities to Auckland, from where there are three daily connecting flights to Kerikeri. airnewzealand.com.au
• Salt Air Tours can also arrange a private charter from Auckland to Northland. saltair.co.nz
WHERE TO STAY
• The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs: kauricliffs.com
• The Landing Residences: thelandingresidences.com
• Eagles Nest: eaglesnest.co.nz
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
• Sail in style with Cool Change around the beautiful bay and islands, enjoy fishing, spot dolphins and whales, and even a night charter. sailcoolchange.co.nz
• Be led into the beautiful Waipoua Forest by a local Maori guide and feel graced by the presence of Tane Mahuta, with Footprints Waipoua. footprintswaipoua.co.nz
• Scenic helicopter flights and tours including landing on top of the famous Hole in the Rock and wine tasting tours, as well as private charter with Salt Air Tours. saltair.co.nz
Tourism New Zealand: newzealand.com