Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Billionaire's $50m NZ lodge is opening for business

Northland's new hideaway lodge is set to open on November 1.
Northland's new hideaway lodge is set to open on November 1.

New Zealand's most expensive new residential lodge will open its doors to guests from the start of next month.

Helena Bay, a $50 million-plus development 40 minutes north of Whangarei, will take only 10 people at a time.

The spectacular property is in an exclusive club of similar luxury retreats, including Taupo's Huka Lodge and the Queenstown area's Blanket Bay.

Helena Bay management yesterday declined to comment, other than confirming there will be a grand opening before the first paying guests start arriving from November 1.

Prices have now been set on the luxury lodge's website.

Villa suites are pegged at an eye-watering $3850 per couple per night or $3500 for a single occupancy, from November to April 30. Junior suites are priced at $2100 for a double occupancy or $1750 per single person.

Prices for both villa options are lower for the rest of the year.

The hideaway lodge - just a 40-minute helicopter ride from Auckland for most of its clientele - has been built for Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov, one of the richest men in the world.

Mr Abramov, who made his US4.2 billion ($5.8b) fortune in steel and has a number of homes around the world, visited the property a year ago and is understood to be planning further trips soon.

To complement the opulent interior design guests will enjoy exploring the individual rooms of the main house, decorated with eclectic artwork and treasures collected by the owners during their travels.

Guest facilities are generous and include a gym, sauna, massage room, a 25-metre heated swimming pool, library, lounge areas, both formal and informal dining areas and an outdoor fire pit.

An interior shot of a room at Helena Bay lodge.
An interior shot of a room at Helena Bay lodge.

In November the Weekend Herald was given a sneak preview of the premises. Other top-end features include a health spa wing with Russian-style mosaic tiles, imported Russian and Italian furnishings and a lavish five-to-one staff/guest ratio.

Helena Bay luxury lodge is owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov. Photo / Greg Bowker
Helena Bay luxury lodge is owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov. Photo / Greg Bowker

Christopher Seel, Helena Bay Holdings' managing director, said at the time the high staff numbers would ensure guests received the utmost care and attention.

An exterior shot of Helena Bay Lodge's 25-metre swimming pool.
An exterior shot of Helena Bay Lodge's 25-metre swimming pool.

"Staff will be working in the health spa, kitchens, on housekeeping, serving, as porters, office staff, activities and amenities staff, ground staff, vegetable and landscape gardeners," he said.

Inside a bathroom at Helena Bay lodge.
Inside a bathroom at Helena Bay lodge.

Another staff member said the buildings and property were so sprawling that radios and mobile phones were needed. Golf cart fleets enable staff to move swiftly around the grounds.

The luxury lodge will cater to just 10 people at a time when it opens.
The luxury lodge will cater to just 10 people at a time when it opens.

Guests can arrive from Auckland in the "Maserati of helicopters", an AugustaWestland AW109S Grand capable of travelling at a 310km/h. Or it can be accessed via a 1km driveway through the bush, off a back road to Russell.

Summer night rates:

• $3850 per couple
• $3500 for singles

- NZ Herald

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