Home to everything from snow capped mountains to ancient forests, New Zealand has gained a reputation for its unique natural beauty.
Understandably, some of the country’s most picturesque places lie well off the beaten track.
For those wanting to experience total immersion in awe-inspiring landscapes, we’ve put together this list of our favourite luxury lodges in New Zealand, which are the perfect marriage of spectacular scenery and lavish comfort.
1) For foodies: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
Surrounded by dramatic mountains near the South Island’s coastal town of Kaikoura, Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses is a one-of-a-kind retreat. Rising 10 metres above a canopy of native kanuka grove are five luxurious tree house suites, made from responsibly sourced or recycled and salvaged timbers. Each treehouse looks out onto the estate’s mesmerising 1,600-acre deer farm, complete with grapevine-covered pergolas and a sparkling view of the Pacific Ocean.
Despite the incredible view, the star attraction here is the restaurant. The lodge is located in an area historically designated as “kai whare”, the Maori term for “house of food” and executive chef Fiona Read, former Masterchef finalist, has a passion for growing food as much as cooking it. The lodge produces its own olive oil and many of the vegetables and herbs will come straight from the kitchen’s organic garden. 75% of the ingredients used in the kitchen are also sourced directly from local farms, cheese-makers and fishermen. Don’t miss the local speciality – Kaikoura crayfish.
2) For giving back: Mahu Whenua
Located in Wanaka – the gateway to New Zealand’s Southern Alps – Mahu Whenua is the eco-sanctuary you’ve been dreaming of. The property is comprised of four adjoining high-country sheep stations, which span an enormous stretch of some of the most dramatic alpine scenery in the country.
The name Mahu Whenua is Maori for “healing the land,” which illustrates the owner’s vision to protect and regenerate the land. Actions taken by the lodge include planting over one-million trees, introducing a native bird-breeding programme and using renewable solar energy so that the lodge operates in harmony with nature. Waking up to views of Lake Wanaka each morning, guests can truly get back to nature and even take part in conservation practices like planting trees or feeding the native birds.
3) For iconic views: The Lindis, Ahuriri Valley
Perhaps New Zealand’s most famous luxury lodge, The Lindis provides a real wow factor. The lodge is located in the Ahuriri Valley, north of Wanaka, which was carved into the landscape over millions of years by the glacial waters of the Ahuriri River. The lodge itself features an elegant timber-slatted roof, which mimics the surrounding undulating landscape. To enjoy the environment in complete seclusion, guests can choose to stay in one of the lodge’s deluxe pods. These ‘pods’ are actually made from mirrored glass, positioned out of sight of the lodge and each contain luxurious fittings: ensuite, king size bed, private outdoor bathtub and fine linens.
For outdoor lovers, the valley is a playground: hiking trails, mountain biking and horse-riding are but a sample of what’s on offer. The Ahuriri River is also rated one of New Zealand’s best fly-fishing spots. To experience total rejuvenation, sink into a deep chair in the lodge – wine in hand – and look out onto the valley, appreciating the exquisite panorama before you.
4) To travel back in time: Otahuna Lodge
Built in 1895 – and celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 – Otahuna Lodge is one of New Zealand’s finest Victorian mansions. The country home, a three-story 40-room timber and slate house, was built for Sir Heaton Rhodes, a high-profile pioneer from Canterbury. The decor at Otahuna reflects Rhodes status: an opulent, dark-wood dining room, cosy library, fragrant Dutch Gardens and a lush green lawn for playing polo.
Rooms are luxuriously appointed, with wood-burning fireplaces and terraces with sweeping views of the manicured great lawn, daffodil fields and the Southern Alps in the distance. Dinner is a five-course chef’s degustation menu – which changes daily – and the Woodlands Massage Studio provides much-needed indulgence. You can even stay in a room patronised by royalty; the magnificent Verandah Suite once hosted King George VI on his royal visit to New Zealand in 1927.
5) To get away from it all: Bay of Many Coves
Accessible only by water taxi or helicopter, this lodge is as secluded as you could possibly want. Bay of Many Coves is a sanctuary of nature, surrounded by native bush and positioned among the timeless beauty of Queen Charlotte Sound at the very tip of the South Island.
Made for adventurers, the idyllic backdrop of the Marlborough Sounds makes this the ideal place to rejuvenate both body and mind. Just 11 suites overlook the quiet bay where the only sounds are tropical birdsong and perhaps the splash of a bottlenose dolphin. As well as water-based activities like paddle-boarding and kayaking, you can also hike among 52 hectares of native bushland or spot twinkling glow worms just a short distance from the resort.