Luxury presides at Northland's Carrington Resort, writes Julia Shallcrass.
Set above the white sands of the Karikari Peninsula, Carrington Resort is a luxury championship golf course and hotel nestled on a 3000-acre Northland estate.
Its beauty lies in its seclusion.
On our honeymoon in the height of summer, we drive the four-and-a-half-hours north from Auckland.
At reception we are greeted with a smile: would we like a royal tour of the facilities and accommodation?
We are guided to our colonial-style accommodation. Despite having been built in 1998, it is a resplendent reminder of New Zealand at the turn of the 1900s.
On the wooden veranda we can sip a sauvignon in the shade, perched above the greenery of the golf course and the gum trees.
Our lodge room is just as splendid in its interior. Spacious, it has a super king bed and an elegant rimu wooden archway leading into the kitchenette and ensuite.
We follow the concierge through the library and past the billiards room to the clubhouse, which boasts sweeping views of the sea and wetlands and a telescope for night-time star gazing.
We're asked if we would we like to experience any of the resort's activities during our stay.
On offer are things as diverse as petanque, trying out our skills on an Olympic-standard skeet shooting range and playing a round on the Matt Dye golf course, which spans rolling hills and water holes.
While we are assured that the 18-hole championship golf course is designed for every skill level, we opt for something more suited to the heat of the day.
Golf carting through the vineyards is more our style. The cart lurches from side to side over gravel as it transports us up to Karikari Estate Winery - New Zealand's northern-most vineyard.
Canoeing in the local lakes is our next adventure. Native birds fossick through the reeds of the 900 acres of restored wetlands, which attract oyster catchers, pukeko, white-faced herons, black swans, kingfishers and a variety of ducks and terns.
We skip the gym, but as the sun subsides I convince my husband to practise our game on the championship tennis courts.
The court's surface allows for extra bounce but I'm still not certain we would qualify for Wimbledon. Perhaps it's the sea breeze blowing like a gale whenever we hit the ball. Perhaps we are just hungry. Match point: dinner time.
The resort's Carrington Restaurant boasts magnificent service in an intimate dining area. Candles illuminate the white-robed tables. We are recommended Karikari Estate Winery's own vintage, the full-bodied pinotage - or its award-winning viognier chardonnay. The duck is succulent, and nearly overshadows the panoramic views of wetland and gum tree-lined seascape.
Before hitting the hay we reflect on our day in the crystal blue waters of the resort's pool and hot spa. Open for guests until 10pm, the pools provide the perfect place to unwind.
The idyllic infinity pool directs the eye to the stretch of sand and sea nearby, where you might spy dolphins, orcas and pilot whales - sometimes within reach of kayakers and swimmers.
Carrington Resort is on Maitai Bay Road, Karikari Peninsula, Northland. Phone 09 408 7222 or email email@example.com for bookings.By Julia Shallcrass