If you’re looking for accommodation that really breaks the mould and adds a massive ‘wow’ factor to your trip – New Zealand has exactly what you’re looking for. Kiwis have the ‘luxury lodge’ concept down to a fine art with an incredible network of exclusive properties dotted throughout both islands.
New Zealand’s crop of luxury lodges are renowned for their absolute attention to detail. Incredible hospitality, seducing architecture and décor, stunningly picturesque locations, tantalising food and wine and a host of very special on-site experiences available to guests. A stay at a luxury lodge can offer you championship golf courses, cooking classes, nature tours and some of the world’s finest trout and fly fishing.
What you won’t find here is anything exclusive or ‘stuffy’; these lodges offer understated elegance which means they can be enjoyed by anybody on a luxury holiday to New Zealand.
Huka Lodge in Taupo is probably New Zealand’s most famous lodge, having hosted the Queen and various heads of state. More recently, Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown stole the hearts of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their New Zealand tour.
Working as a New Zealand specialist, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit and stay in a number of these luxury lodges over the years. Choosing my favourites is not easy, but here are some of my top recommendations:
Beginning at the top of the North Island, I’d highly recommend a stay at Eagles Nest Lodge with its five private luxury villas overlooking the beautiful Bay of Islands. Four of its five villas have their own private Jacuzzis and infinity pools with panoramic views over the Bay of Islands.
Here you’ll also find Kauri Cliffs, set amidst 6,000 acres of Northland. Accommodation is in elegant suites situated in homely cottages with spectacular views over the Pacific Ocean, Pink beach (covered in minute pink shells), a championship golf course and the property’s own working farm.
Both these Northlands properties offer luxury accommodation at the highest level and a concierge service who will recommend and book local excursions, meals and day trips.
Moving south, just a 35-minute ferry ride or a short helicopter flight from Auckland, you’ll find The Boatshed, a chic, luxury property set on Waiheke Island. This is one of my favourite spots to relax after a long flight or at the end of a tour around New Zealand. This small, hip, luxury lodge has been owned and run by the same family for 35 years, so they know a thing or two about hosting. Every room has panoramic ocean view so it makes for a wonderful retreat close to the vineyards and beaches of Waiheke.
Continuing through the North Island, no stay would be complete without a visit to the centrally located Rotorua and Taupo, where you’ll encounter thermal wonders, cultural heritage and some stunning lakes.
Huka Lodge in Taupo and is considered one of the top retreats in the world, and for good reason. Set amidst parkland on the banks of the Waikato River, upstream from the Huka Falls – this lodge promises dreamy tranquillity in the form of massages and beauty treatments or activities like tennis, croquet and mountain biking - all available on site.
Moving closer to Rotorua, you’ll find the smaller Peppers on the Point Lodge; an historic mansion with exceptional service, views over Lake Rotorua and an exclusive private beach.
If you’re visiting this region, you’re actually spoilt for choice as I’d also recommend Solitaire Lodge overlooking Lake Tarawera and Treetops Lodge & Estate. Treetops offers and extensive range of activities, different each day and free to lodge guests, including an ‘Estate to plate’ safari, Maori food trail and a Wild Food Cooking School.
My list of top lodges in the south island is long but varied - with a range of luxury retreats situated in some of the finest locations you can imagine.
For the sheer beauty of its location alone, I’d recommend the Bay of Many Coves for anyone visiting the Marlborough Sounds. The luxury accommodation and superb food offered is the icing on the cake on top of its marvellous location! Accessed exclusively by boat or helicopter; if you’re looking for seclusion, this is the place to stay.
In a rural location close to Nelson, you’ll find the wonderful Edenhouse. This lodge is run by a charming couple who clearly love their home and love to lavish attention on their guests. Tatler featured this luxury lodge in their ‘101 best hotels of the world’ article and said of the lodge, "So deliciously pretty you want to take a big slow bite out of it".
Close to the whale watching and Maori culture hotspot of Kaikoura is the 5 star eco-retreat Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses. This is an absolute gem, with charming hosts who will ensure your trip is memorable in every way. You can stay in either in the lodge or one of the unique, luxury wooden treehouses with ocean views. I opted to stay in the main lodge, quite possibly the finest room I’ve ever slept in!
Heading south and close to Christchurch is another favourite - Otahuna Lodge; a restored Victorian mansion set in 30 acres of exquisite gardens. This lodge is ideally situated if you are flying into or out of Christchurch and guarantees a charming start or end to your New Zealand holiday. With top-notch hosting, gourmet cuisine and experiences which include cooking classes and heli-touring over the Southern Alps – here you can experience the best New Zealand has to offer.
Just two of the must-see destinations in the South Island, Queenstown and Fiordland also offer stylish stays and excellent luxury lodges.
Less than 10 minutes from Queenstown, lakeside Matakauri Lodge is owned by the same family as The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs (together with The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay). Set beside Lake Wakatipu overlooking the Remarkables, accommodation is in guest rooms, cottages and suites, each suite with its own breath-taking private terrace. Combined with the on-site day spa, this lodge is the ultimate romantic getaway.
My final recommendation is Blanket Bay Lodge located in Glenorchy further along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It’s been listed amongst the world’s top lodges on many occasions and its secluded location away from the pace of Queenstown offers cosy tranquillity, whilst you’re close enough to the city to enjoy the plentiful outdoor activities this region offers.
If you’re interested in a stay in a luxury lodge in New Zealand, get in touch and I’ll create your prefect holiday. Whether it’s lodges all the way or a combination of lodges and boutique bed and breakfast-style accommodation, I can tailor-make a trip to suit you and offer first hand recommendations and advice on where to stay and what to do. Contact Annette for more information and to book.