Looking for a dose of New Zealand luxury? You might find it perched on a clifftop lodge overlooking the stunning Bay of Islands in the Far North, surrounded by rolling farmland in the Hawke’s Bay wine region, or hidden away elsewhere in the North Island's impressive scenery. Come with us as we explore four of the best Luxury Lodges of New Zealand – all with a distinct feel and setting – all equally brilliant.
The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Bay of Islands
It is way too easy to take your eye off the ball when you are golfing in the Bay of Islands. With several holes presiding over panoramic ocean vistas, all but the most dedicated golfers risk becoming distracted as they tee off. That, however, is the only problem guests are likely to encounter at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs. Set on 6,000 acres of rolling countryside, this luxurious coastal hideaway is a great choice for active types. Apart from its spectacular golf course, ranked among the world’s top 40, guests can frolic on the property’s three beaches, or choose from activities including sailing to mountain biking. Alternatively, drop in to the nearby town of Russell, the first European settlement in New Zealand. Home to some of the country’s oldest buildings, this charming town is well worth an afternoon’s exploring. If you are looking for excuses to stay put, however, there are plenty of those as well. For a touch of pampering, head to the lodge’s spa, tucked into a lush pocket of rainforest. A close second in terms of relaxation: sitting back and soaking up Kauri Cliffs’ sensational clifftop views. Whether you kick back on your private deck or curl up on one the lodge’s many sink-into sofas, the sight of that tranquil blue bay is guaranteed to lower your blood pressure.
The Boatshed, Waiheke Island
You don’t have to go all the way to the Bay of Islands to enjoy a coastal retreat, of course. Just 40 minutes from Auckland, on Waiheke Island, The Boatshed is the perfect base from which to explore Waiheke’s wineries and art galleries. The pick of the accommodations is the three-storey Lighthouse, a private retreat with whitewashed walls, water views – complete with a handy telescope – and even a private elevator for delivering meals. At The Boatshed, it’s all about the little details. Your in-room beach kit includes not just hats and sunscreen, but a beach umbrella and sand mat. If you are heading into town for a meal, the staff will happily pick you up afterward – although you may prefer to view the 10-minute walk as a post-prandial stroll. Feeling peckish mid-afternoon? The chef will happily rustle up a tasty cheese platter to stave off those hunger pains. If you want to spend a day exploring the island, The Boatshed even has cute mini mokes to take you from beach to winery and back again.
Huka Lodge, Taupo
The Boatshed’s nostalgic beach chic has been inspired by that classic Kiwi icon, the bach – a small coastal getaway. Huka Lodge, by contrast, has a distinct Highlands feel, which may explain why this property perched on the willow-fringed banks of the Waikato River is the preferred lodging of Queen Elizabeth when she visits New Zealand. Of course, there is more to Huka more than just tartan blankets and log fires. The area offers some of the best fishing in New Zealand; however, for every visitor who casts a line, there are another two just chilling out in their sprawling suite. Huka’s secret weapon is its chef, Paul Froggat. You expect superb food from a luxury lodge; however, Froggat - who helmed Hong Kong’s Amber restaurant when it was ranked as one of the world’s 10 best restaurants - lifts things a notch higher, crafting superb meals using the best Kiwi produce. To make dinner even more memorable, book yourself into one of Huka’s atmospheric private dining venues: perhaps inside the vaulted wine cellar, or an al fresco dinner in the brazier-warmed orchard.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay
If Huka Lodge has a fishing vibe, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers has a definite farming feel, rolling out the rustic luxury. The exposed wood beams and stone floors provide the rustic side of the equation; the oversized couches, cowhide rugs and Italian linen sheets take care of the luxury. Cape Kidnappers, owned by the same family as Kauri Cliffs, really is housed on a working farm. Ask the staff for a farm tour: jump into the four wheel drive and prepare yourself to ford riverbeds and drive through paddocks filled with cattle and sheep. Alternatively, the Kiwi Discovery Walk offers insights into the property’s successful kiwi conservation project. Looking further afield, the area’s wineries are some of the country’s best, and the nearby town of Napier is a haven for fans of art deco architecture. Or you could just stay put and practice your swing on the lodge’s acclaimed golf course.