Helena Bay, Northland
In the winterless north, lies Helena Bay - a luxurious six-star lodge with just five double rooms, set among private beaches and pristine coves, overlooking the sea - you'll find binoculars on hand to view any visiting wildlife, such as whales, birds and dolphins.
Archaeologists have found the remains of five pā sites on this historic plot of land, and the area was later used by Croatians families to produce wine. The property was eventually cleared for farming, before being bought by the current owners in 2007.
Since then the land has been used for lower-intensity farming, including Wagyu beef breeding, and the pine forest is used as a carbon sink rather than production.
The beautiful central lodge is extensive - you could enjoy breakfast by the pool, lunch in the library and dine in front of the fire or al fresco overlooking the ocean.
The world's largest sea cave is 20km away across the water at the Poor Knights Islands, and diving trips to see stingrays, orca and myriad fish can be arranged. Outside the marine reserve, there's excellent fishing to be had - guests can cast from the property's pontoon, or off the jetty, with fishing equipment on hand.
Eagles Nest, Bay of Islands
How does a private chef sound? What about a butler? A personal trainer? A spa therapist? Your wish is their command at Eagles Nest, a clifftop peninsula property where guests get an entire villa to themselves.
The smallest villa offers one bedroom and two bathrooms. The largest? Prepare yourself for four bedrooms (all with en suite), a butler, private beach, wine cellar, a 25m pool and the use of a Porsche. Every villa has a private pool, and complimentary champagne on arrival.
The staff will arrange any activity you're interested in - be it wine tasting, sky-diving, horse-trekking or a foodie tour of the region. There is also a kiwi care programme onsite, and little blue penguins visit the beaches. But there's really no reason to leave the property, with views of the sea and skies that stretch forever.
Delamore Lodge, Waiheke
Holiday like the rich and famous at Delamore on Waiheke, where Madonna, Justin Bieber and Alanis Morissette are all rumoured to have stayed. The glitz and glam of the guests belies the environment here however - Delamore is a peaceful and private escape, atop a cliff overlooking the Hauraki Gulf, but only a five-minute drive from the ferry terminal.
This is a small boutique hotel and, as such, guests are treated to a personalised service - the wine and snacks are always at hand. There are only a handful of rooms, so you will be known by name immediately.
Guests approach from the back of the property and are then led through to a wide deck, and the hotel's Instagram-famous pool - an infinity-style on the very edge of the property. Further down the hill are fruit trees and garden walks for exploring.
Each evening, guests gather on the balcony to enjoy canapes and pre-dinner drinks together. Then in the evening, enjoy a sherry in the lounge, curl up with a book in the library, or take a window seat in the restaurant, and gaze over the incredible view of the Hauraki Gulf as you dine on Coromandel oysters, in-season produce and local wine.
Treetops Lodge, Rotorua
Cosiness doesn't usually come with this kind of grandeur. On the edge of Rotorua, on the edge of a forest, on the edge of nowhere, you'll find a warm hearth, a comfortable sofa, a stack of books and a room full of games. Plus a Goldie, an open decanter and a full estate to make use of.
This is Treetops, a hunting lodge-style hotel that is the epitome of luxury winter retreat. The property is set on a 1000ha of native bush, and is criss-crossed by streams and bush walks. The estate is there to be explored - there are trout in the rivers and deer roam the property - don't be surprised to see one wandering past your window in the quiet evenings. The lodge will pack you a picnic if you want to explore for the day, or choose from any number of rambles - from a 15-minute stroll to see the glow worms, to a 45-minute walk to the unmissable Bridal Veil Falls waterfall. After a walk through thick bush, it appears, seemingly out of nowhere, crashing 50m down the mountainside.
Other options include fishing, horse riding, a Māori food trail and gathering expedition, and cooking classes. If you prefer to hang out near the lodge, there are reading rooms, a billiards table, and the forest spa, with massage, beauty treatments, and bush-side hot tubs.
The main lodge is decorated hunting style - with antlers and beasts aplenty, thick rugs and heavy coffee table books to peruse over a welcoming drink. And the restaurant serves up local fare - which means those trout and deer are popular choices, as well as other ingredients grown or foraged from the property.
Wharekauhau, Palliser Bay
Live like royalty at Wharekauhau Country Estate. Built on one of the country's oldest working sheep stations, at the foot of the Rimutaka Ranges, this luxurious lodge is a celebration of New Zealand's farming history. However it's also a favourite with royalty - the estate was famously used by William, Kate and George on their royal tour in 2014, and the king and queen of Denmark in 2018. James Cameron lives next door.
The lodge is a 90-minute drive from Wellington, and is nestled between the mountains, gorges and the coastline. This is a space for outdoorsy types - during the day guests can explore the gardens, take a quad-bike farm tour, or hike on Mt Wharekauhau, and you'll find the lodge entranceway lined with gumboots.
At night, the formality steps up in the dining room, with a farm-to-table menu, and a world-class wine cellar. There are also private dining-room options.
Wharekauhau is also a perfect spot for families - kids are encouraged to get out on to the farm to experience life here. They can collect the eggs from the chicken hutch, cook with the lodge chefs, or try clay-shooting as a family.
Bay of Many Coves, Marlborough
With entry only by boat or air (a 20-minute helicopter flight from Wellington), the approach to Bay of Many Coves is the beginning of your luxury experience. The Marlborough Sounds is one of New Zealand's most beautiful spots - ancient river valleys that have filled with the ocean creates an epic landscape of curves and corners and spots that can be discovered only from the water.
There are dolphin-watching experiences, seafood cruises, plus the Queen Charlotte track is nearby, and can be walked in short bursts if you don't fancy taking on the entire five-day, 72km walk.
You'll be collected from the private jetty and given a tour of the grounds, before settling in to your room, all 11 of which over the water. There is a cafe as well as a fine-dining restaurant, a cedar hot tub for six, and a spa onsite.
The night skies are a tapestry of stars, and by day it'd be blissfully quiet if it weren't for all those native birds singing away like they own the place. Heaven.
Split Apple Retreat, Abel Tasman
In New Zealand's sunniest region you'll find Split Apple Retreat, which sits atop a peninsula overlooking Abel Tasman.
Run by a doctor and a chef, Split Apple's focus is strongly on wellness - the lodge offers a saltwater infinity pool, private beaches and bush walks, as well as massages, acupuncture, yoga sessions and meditation. There is a Japanese Onsen hot bath, as well as saunas to enjoy. The Asian-Mediterranean menu is personalised for each guest according to their needs and goals, and cooking lessons are offered.
On the border of the Abel Tasman National Park, guests can hike, kayak, fish or sail, and a helicopter can be arranged for private picnics at beaches that are inaccessible by foot. Closer to home, guests can enjoy cooking classes, calligraphy lessons, and traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
There are just three suites available here, each quite different in design - facilities range from Japanese granite baths, private decks, and lounge areas, and children under 12 will have to stay at home.
Stonefly Lodge, Nelson
A luxury lodge with some of the best fly-fishing in the country. At Stonefly, the focus is on the great outdoors. The lodge is between Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes national parks, and there is a host of nearby rivers to choose. The fishing season opens in October and runs through to April, and you don't need to have any experience to sign up - novices can take casting lessons, and pros can be guided into the backcountry to a secret spot.
Out of season, there are the national parks to explore, cycle trails, sea kayaking, hiking and wine and food tours.
Guests can stay in the main natural stone and timber lodge, with its grand entrance hall, huge roaring fire and deep leather sofas, or hire Falcon Brae, a large villa which accommodates 10. Both the lodge and the villa are off the grid, self-sufficient for power and water, and the hotel has won awards for its environmental and sustainability initiatives.
Just outside of Kaikōura, Hāpuku Lodge + Tree Houses is remote, peaceful and architecturally interesting.
Set on a deer farm, there is a strong environmental bent at this New Zealand-owned property - the lodge contains furniture handmade from salvaged wood, the majority of produce is locally sourced, and a tree is planted for every guest. The tree houses are a series of cabins on stilts, which sit above a mānuka grove, overlooking the property. Behind the cabins are the beautiful Kaikōura Seaward Mountains, and ahead is the ocean.
The vibe is more relaxed here - expect friendly unpretentious service as you enjoy the lodge and surrounds. Guests can help to pick olives, enjoy a massage, take on the local mountain bike trails, or surf at the famed Mangamaunu break.
At dinner, enjoy a wine list that comes primarily from small independent wineries, as well as the famed Kaikōura crayfish, the estate's free-range chickens, and produce from the lodge gardens.
Annandale, Banks Peninsula
At Annandale, they promise "gumboot luxury" (just make sure you bring your Hunters, or Red Bands at least). Here, guests have exclusive use of their villa, homestead or cottage (or the stables, which is a two-bedroom luxury loft apartment), so your retreat is entirely private.
Choose Scrubby Bay to enjoy a private bay surrounded by the hills of the Banks Peninsula, and space for a party of 14. At Seascape, there is room for just two - this is the romantic option, with an outdoor fireplace and spa, in a beautiful room set directly into the tussock hillside.
This has been a working farm since 1843 - 1600ha skim the coast, and Annandale is home to thousands of beef cattle and sheep. Guests can roam the farm freely (always remembering to shut the gate behind them, of course), take cooking classes that teach the property's farm-to-table philosophy, or take the 30-minute drive to explore the picturesque French settlement of Akaroa.
Blanket Bay , Glenorchy
Could there be a lovelier spot than on the shores of Lake Wakatipu? This stone and timber lodge features open log fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling lakeside windows from which to enjoy the view of one of New Zealand's most serene spots. Central to the lodge is the great room, a cavernous space with 9m-high ceilings, and a dramatic central antler chandelier. Guests gather here each evening to chat and enjoy a drink before dinner.
On the doorstep you'll find jet rides, hiking, canoe trips, bungee jumping, heli-skiing and trips to the Milford Sound. If the weather outside is frightful, retreat to the spa for massage and treatments, or the games room, with its pool table, darts board, board games and video library, and a stocked bar.
Minaret Station, Wanaka
You possibly can't get further away from it all than at Minaret Station, New Zealand's most remote hotel. There are no roads leading in - instead guests must take a helicopter from Queenstown or Wānaka, and fly over Otago at 3000m. The chopper will then drop you just metres from your cabin.
In this remote glacial valley, 900m above Lake Wanaka, you'll find four simple but luxurious cabins, appointed with sheepskins and private hot tubs, and a shared central dining room and lounge. The lodge is off-grid - the water comes from the alpine waterfall behind it, and power is hydroelectric. The bar is open - help yourself to a G&T or wine, then take a place on the sofa in front of the fire.
Guests come here to experience the sport - the lodge offers heli-biking, skiing and hunting - and to get away from it all. A private guide, as well as all meals and drinks, are included in the price of your stay, so take advantage with a guided walk across the land.
After a day's adventure, the lodge's focus is food. Guests dine together around a shared table - venison from the land, vegetables from nearby Wānaka. Then stargazing and scotch after sunset.
The Lindis, Ahuriri Valley, Canterbury
The combination of a spectacular settinstong, and spectacular architecture are what make The Lindis so incredible. Lying smooth and flat in the landscape like the perfect river skimming pebble, The Lindis blends in with its surroundings, then brings the land indoors with its natural Bluestone and timber interiors.
The Ahuriri River runs past the lodge, and provides opportunity for brown and rainbow trout fishing. There are stables onsite for horse riders, as well as e-bikes and buggy tours. After dinner, the night sky offers tremendous daily star-gazing opportunities in this light pollution-free area, as staff take guests outside with a star map to learn about the stars and constellations above.
There are five guest rooms inside the lodge, and three glass pods set slightly away for privacy and all-round views of the countryside and night sky, each with its own hot tub.
Dinner and breakfast are included in your stay, as well as pre-dinner drinks and canapes. Almost everything is sourced locally, including locally foraged porcini mushrooms, wild Fiordland venison, Te Mana lamb, Aoraki salmon and Southland albacore tuna.
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