Want hot-and-cold-running luxury coupled with kindness to the Earth? These will tick your boxes, writes Ivy Carruth
Whether you're keen on outdoor adventure, seeking a slower pace (with some spa treatment thrown in for good measure?) or ticking off a wish-list pipe dream and turning it into a reality, these sustainably-minded superstars are all lauded for their eco-efforts. The kaitiakitanga spirit of guardianship and protection is alive and well in these swoon-worthy resorts and lodges.
Hāpuku Lodge + Tree Houses, Kaikōura
Nestled amid the carmine crags of the Kaikōura Seaward Mountain Range and overlooking a flourishing olive orchard and rolling deer pasture, Hāpuku (named after the river that meanders past it) is a breath of fresh air. Dedicated to a sustainable ethos well before all the cool kids were doing it, the Kiwi-American Wilson family's passions for food, design and nurturing the environment fit perfectly into the values of the community – the first in the world to become Green Globe certified in 2002.
Settle into one of the five lush timber-clad Tree Houses, perched 10m above ground, each named after the bird most curious about its construction. Panoramic views are yours to savour from every angle, and the cantilevered decks are just the spot to eavesdrop on night-time wildlife scampering beneath you. The lodge itself houses three suites, each with its own captivating charm and newly on offer is the splendidly adorned Olive House, which can be booked out exclusively, or divided into two separate accommodations.
Dine heartily on local fare, with greens grown on-site. Everything is included in the rate including a selection of Kiwi wines. While the days away birdwatching, fishing or taming the surf break at Mangamaunu – only a 1km stroll away.
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Te Arai Lodge, Te Arai
Ultra-exclusive with just three elegant suites catering to those who appreciate boutique style and tranquillity, this adults-only oasis blends privacy with impeccable hospitality. Awaken to Sun Salutations at the yoga studio by the glistening 20m lap pool or melt back into buttery sheets for a lie-in before an organic garden-to-table breakfast.
In the style of a large but luxe B&B, suites have access to sumptuous common spaces, and guests are invited to join in the "Shared Table" for dinner and convivial hospitality with fellow guests. Room service is also an option and private spots throughout the property suit well for an al-fresco party of two.
The lodge treads lightly on its pristine podocarp forest, roosted as it is on a ridge that drinks in sky and sea. Much of the food is grown on-site, fish is line-caught and a portion of profits from the lodge go to NZ Forest & Bird, which works to conserve native forests. Take advantage of the outdoors and consider one of the many walks in the area or enjoy a round at the Mangawhai Golf Club, only 10 minutes away. On your return, soothe your weary muscles with a massage using active botanicals.
Awaroa Lodge, Awaroa Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
Dazzlingly secluded and accessible by scenic water taxi, Awaroa Lodge in the Abel Tasman National Park can also be reached by trekkers via the Coastal Track, should you fancy a stop for respite along the route. It's a 3-4 day walk from Mārahau, but luggage can be transported ahead.
Although there are other room types, the Superior Suites are the pick for space, style and serenity. Here, private decks look over verdant native bush or flourishing wetland, both rich in wildlife, including a population of tame eels and, increasingly, rarely seen visitors such as the white heron. The suites are placed to make the most of the views and as such, there are no televisions, spa pools or cellphone reception. Making do comes easy here, thanks to the spectacularly glass-like waters of Awaroa Beach, where you can swim, lounge, kayak, snorkel or hike. At night, under a blanket of stars, meals can be taken inside or out, and selections range from gourmet pizzas to restaurant-style fare heavy on local sourcing.
The Lodge is working toward a zero-carbon footprint and through its actions supports the Tiaki Promise to care for New Zealand. Eco-friendly cleaning supplies are used to avoid damage to the adjacent Marine Reserve, pest trapping and weed eradication keep the land hospitable for native flora and fauna and major steps are in place to reduce waste.
Arthur's Pass Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wide-open spaces and authenticity are what you'll find at this 1600ha working sheep farm; vistas of the Southern Alps and sheltering mountain beech forest envelop guests in comfort and unpretentious luxury. Less than two hours from Christchurch (or a pre-arranged transfer from the scenic TranzAlpine train) once on-site, retreat to one of four studio-like Alpine View rooms or one of 20 elegantly compact Mountain View rooms.
Enjoy the self-guided Rainbow Trail, canoeing on Lake Pearson and delight in a farm discovery trip to hand-feed lambs and watch sheepdogs earn their keep. Maybe you'll try your hand at shearing – these sheep produce superfine merino for Icebreaker and many Italian fashion houses. Guides are available for private trips further afield, and twice-daily activities on the grounds orientate you to natural history, native plants and farming life.
Established (along with its sister property, the Wilderness Lodge at Lake Moeraki,) by conservationists Anne Sanders and Dr Gerry McSweeney, the lodge has received numerous eco-tourism and environmental accolades. Half of the property is protected as a nature reserve and protection efforts include passive non-mechanised recreation as well as growing much of the food on the menu. Farming is done carefully to protect soil and waterways, and conifer seedlings are systematically removed to prevent a build-up of "green desert".
Huka Lodge, Taupō
The decadence and immaculate hospitality are unforgettable luxuries at this world-class retreat tucked alongside the Waikato River. Beginning with a warm welcome, guests are treated to the very best in curated dining and pristine surroundings. Think Ralph Lauren meets Martha Stewart – everything is perfect, and rightfully so for the nightly tariff – although meals, aperitifs and most lodge experiences are included.
Roomy Junior Lodge Suites greet the river through french doors that open to lush lawn, and two self-contained "cottages" serve large parties wishing to stay together. Meals are an ever-changing presentation of flavour and colour, with ingredients sourced through premium local producers subscribing to a sustainable ethos. Chemicals have no place and everything that can be recycled is. Surrounded by the river, guardianship of this resource is assisted by a monitoring system and purification process that combines UV, activated carbon and osmosis - providing guests with fresh drinking water.
Outdoor pursuits include yoga, tennis and croquet. Hike the Spa Walk to Huka Falls or immerse yourself in the birdsong within the rainforest-like Tongariro National Park. Close by, cast a fly for brown or rainbow trout or join in the wonder of the Ata Mai Māori Cultural Experience. After all that exertion, treat yourself to an in-room spa treatment. Bliss.
Lakestone Lodge, Lake Pūkaki
Boasting some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, this modern resort showcases delicious dining and five-star views of Lake Pūkaki and Aoraki/Mt Cook while nourishing guests with luxuriant off-grid respite. The Alps2Ocean trail, 300km of breathtaking cycling trek, runs alongside the lodge, and guests can hire e-bikes or sturdy mountain bikes for their own adventures like the 40km loop around Twizel.
Cosy quarters range from Lakeside Lodge Guestrooms to two-bedroom Lakestone Apartments, but it's the Yellowstone-esque Pūkaki Log House with richly timber-clad walls and furnishings – a halt-in-your-tracks showstopper – that will have you never wanting to leave. If night sky magic is your thing, you couldn't be more perfectly placed, as Lakestone Lodge is in the middle of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve; one of the best places in the world to see planets, shooting stars and of course, the Southern Cross.
Sustainability is serious business here. Architectural design takes advantage of natural daylight and passive heating and cooling. The gardens sustain native bird and insect life, dwellings are insulated and have double-glazed windows, while a heat exchanger eliminates the need for air-conditioning. LED bulbs and energy-efficient appliances make use of timers and rain catchment and bore water is in use in the low-flow shower and toilets.
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