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New Zealand's most secret luxury lodges

NZ Herald
Not for sale

Luxury lodges key:

  •  
    Winter
    breaks & snow
  •  
    Remote
    luxury escapes
  •  
    Family
    friendly lodges
  •  
    Sustainable
    guilt-free luxury
  •  
    Secret
    lesser-known gems
  •  
    City
    breaks & hotels

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.

Secret spots and lesser-known gems

Well, they were until this magazine came out.

Perched over the Pacific among ancient pohutukawa on a private peninsula in the Bay of Islands are the bespoke getaways The Glasshouse – Ara Roa Villa and its larger chum, Te Whara.

Is this really Auckland? Te Arai Lodge. Photo / Trey Ratcliffe
Is this really Auckland? Te Arai Lodge. Photo / Trey Ratcliffe

Technically but not really in Auckland city, Te Arai Lodge is an eco-friendly oasis just over an hour north of the harbour bridge, lying in ancient native forest and looking over the Brynderwyns to the Mangawhai coast. Go for garden-to-table dining, therapies, hiking and beach bike-riding.

In Cambridge, The Henley is a modern country-house hotel with indoor pool and 12ha gardens, lake and croquet lawn; for a heritage experience, Villa Walton offers elegant and relaxing accommodation at a historic homestead on the Kaimai Ranges close to Matamata.

Country-house: The Henley Hotel. Photo / Supplied
Country-house: The Henley Hotel. Photo / Supplied

You couldn't get a more secret spot than Lonely Bay. The Barn is a four-suite lodge in a rustic Coromandel Peninsula building with timbered ceilings, natural furnishings, books and antique china. Think open-plan, cosy fireplace, sheltered patio, gourmet food and wines. Pet-friendly, too.

Hidden in plain sight next to Rotorua's Government Gardens, the 1897 Prince's Gate Hotel is a true gem: book a suite or apartment and dine in Duke's; high-studded kauri ceilings, rimu floors, chandeliers, leadlight windows and starched tablecloths.

Southland's remote luxury at Cabot Lodge. Photo / Supplied
Southland's remote luxury at Cabot Lodge. Photo / Supplied

Dial up a unique glamping experience near Taupō: it's called the Telephone Exchange because it was a 1950s phone service hut, rescued and revived as a charming off-grid retreat with outdoor bath among the trees.

Snuggled between Tongariro and Whanganui national parks is Retaruke Country Estate, combining outdoor pursuits - horse treks, off-roading, biking, hunting, shooting, fishing, hiking - and luxury accommodation on 1600ha of farmland, bush and streams.

The exceptional The Manse is a converted 1910 viccarage. Photo / Supplied
The exceptional The Manse is a converted 1910 viccarage. Photo / Supplied

On the edge of Hawke's Bay's premier wine regions, Gary and Dietske Grootelar have converted a 1910 vicarage into the exceptional The Manse boutique hotel. Historic Wallingford farmstead, near Pōrangahau, delivers luxe stays and a fine restaurant on its truffle, Angus beef and lamb estate.

Beside the Taranaki coast, Ahu Villas are handcrafted villas; for a magical winter experience, sit by the fire pit with a glass of wine and listen to the Tasman waves roll in.

The Orinoco is a river in… Motueka, where Edenhouse has three 6-star suites set among extensive gardens, breakfast, dinner and fine local wines included. In North Canterbury's wine region, choose from Tawanui Glamping on the Loughnan family's beef, sheep and deer farm, or the Winepod tiny house among the vines on the Georges Road wine estate.

Justifiably regarded one of our best boutique hotels, Otahuna Lodge was New Zealand's largest private home, the Victorian mansion revitalised into luxury accommodation, glorious gardens and sophisticated cuisine. Admire period woodwork, stained glass windows, 15 working fireplaces, contemporary NZ art, bellbirds' song and 120 kinds of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms in the Canterbury countryside.

Seeking southern mountains, snow, ice – and apres-ski after hours? Matuka Lodge, near Twizel, and Lake Tekapo Lodge come highly recommended.

Central Otago's Mt Michael Lodge. Photo / Supplied
Central Otago's Mt Michael Lodge. Photo / Supplied

Ōamaru is about history and whimsy, nowhere more so than Casanova House bed and breakfast in a heritage property and The Old Confectionery's two striking apartments.

And Central Otago is about pinot noir. Sleep at the source, Mt Michael Lodge in the Lowburn vineyard, overlooking Lake Dunstan and framed by three ranges. Closer – but not too close – to Queenstown's action are Azur Lodge's hideaway hilltop villas, just five minutes above downtown.

Southland's Cabot Lodge. Photo / Supplied
Southland's Cabot Lodge. Photo / Supplied

You visit Fiordland to really get into getting away from it all. Cabot Lodge and Fiordland Lodge, staying open all winter for the first time, are places to do it.

Observation Rock, Stewart Island. Photo / Supplied
Observation Rock, Stewart Island. Photo / Supplied

At the "southern edge of civilisation" – aka Rakiura / Stewart Island - Observation Rock Lodge's guest rooms face southwest so guests can see the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) or the Southern Cross while lying back in bed. Church Hill Lodge's suites have a deck so guests can look out to Halfmoon Bay of a morning or evening.

Check out…

Nelson Tasman: Westhaven, Maruia River Retreat and Peak View Retreat

Luxury lodges key:

  •  
    Winter
    breaks & snow
  •  
    Remote
    luxury escapes
  •  
    Family
    friendly lodges
  •  
    Sustainable
    guilt-free luxury
  •  
    Secret
    lesser-known gems
  •  
    City
    breaks & hotels