When it comes to lodges we have some world leaders, writes Ewan McDonald
We thought we’d set the bar pretty high when we decided to profile “some of New Zealand’s greatest luxury lodges and what makes them so special”. Perhaps we didn’t realise how many high-end lodgings you can find in and around Aotearoa. So we decided to focus on the best of the best.
Some centres have more than their share of these; some establishments fit into more than one category. In case the Cumberbatches or Cambridges googled and booked the place you fancy, we’ve listed “Check Out” options following each category.
Perversely, we’ll set off from the Winterless North. Kourawhero Mountain Lodge in the Matakana hinterland is highly regarded for its heritage-protected landscapes, Hauraki Gulf views and gastronomy. Delamore Lodge is in the gulf: moulded into the cliffs above Ōwhanake Bay on Waiheke, designed in the shape of a Maori fishhook.
Rotorua has two lakeside luxury destinations – Solitaire Lodge, perched on a peninsula jutting into Lake Tarawera, with natural bush, volcanic landscapes and a 15-minute launch charter to natural hot springs; and Peppers on the Point, gracing a 1930s mansion on the Rotorua lakeshore.
Fit for a queen – several, and many other celebs, have stayed – is Taupō’s Huka Lodge. Many Kiwi lodges trumpet their suites and cuisine; can any also offer the world-famous winter trout spawning runs in gin-clear rivers?
If ski-ing is your chillax, Powderhorn Chateau is barely a mogul from Ruapehu’s Tūroa slopes. Days in the snow, evenings in the indoor heated pool with bar service or the ‘Keg bar-restaurant.
Hawke’s Bay boasts more than its share of upmarket places to lay your head, including The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, often ranked No. 1 resort hotel in Australia-New Zealand, and Craggy Range‘s vineyard cottages, riverside lodges and award-winning restaurant.
Black Barn‘s 16 self-contained retreats are dotted across the province’s coast, vineyards and river valleys. Namedrop alert: Benedict Cumberbatch and family spent lockdown in their Summerlee property.
Another region where you’ll be spoiled for choice is the Top of the South. At Stonefly Lodge, above the Motueka River with 360-degree views over the mountains, groups of up to 10 people (or 14 adults, four kids) can book Falcon Brae Villa and its private chef, making use of the helipad, games den, heated spa, pool, barbecue firepit. Peak View Retreat, at Delamere Bay west of Nelson, is an adults-only wilderness retreat with a strong focus on privacy, local products and sustainability.
The West Coast has put together a range of treats in its ultimate winter package – accommodation at hotels in Lake Brunner, Hokitika and Franz Josef; a glacier helicopter flight, Shantytown and treetop walkway experiences. Westwood Lodge has a one-night deal with dinner and a heli-flight to the cold stuff.
Ski-ing south? Hit the slopes less than two hours after getting off the plane. Ski Time in Methven is an hour’s drive from Christchurch airport and only 30 minutes from Mt Hutt. North of the city, Lake Stella Mountain Huts are beside a remote lake near the Mt Lyford ski area.
Don’t suppose we can bypass Queenstown, can we? Certainly not Blanket Bay, which lays claim to being one of the world’s best luxury lodges (citations are available), near Glenorchy at the head of Lake Whakatipu. Much-awarded Matakauri Lodge is reopening on July 1 with a B&B-only package.
Otago has other centres worth visiting. How about Clyde, where the Ritchie family have crafted Oliver’s Lodge from heritage-protected, stone buildings dating from 1869, sensitively restored into luxury accommodation, an excellent restaurant, bar, brewery and deli.
Rather like its town, Pen-y-bryn Lodge in Ōamaru is full of antiques and curiosities, an elegant 1889 mansion infused with modern comforts. While we’re in McCaw’s old stomping-ground, Valley Views Glamping‘s geodesic domes are a luxury escape where you can chill in outdoor baths with a bottle of Waitaki’s finest.
We’ve reached the Deep South (although we will cross Foveaux Strait in our other categories).Larnach Castle is not the only landmark on Otago Peninsula; a few minutes away, Camp Estate is a private country house, built from local bluestone and featuring a spectacular marble staircase and classically designed rooms. Sorry, it’s not suitable for children.
Ruapehu: Chateau Tongariro
Southern Alps: Mahu Whenua eco-sanctuary, Matuka Lodge, Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, Lakestone Lodge
Central Otago: Cardrona Hotel
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newfinder.co.nz and newzealand.com
Luxury lodges key:
Winterbreaks & snow
Citybreaks & hotels
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