New Zealand’s spectacular coastline and lakes are home to a niche array of world-class lodges where guests can push pause on their busy lives to recharge in nature with some of the best hospitality experiences the country has to offer.
Eagles Nest, Russell, Northland
Billed as “somewhere between seven stars and heaven”, Eagles Nest in the sub-tropical Bay of Islands was named Oceania’s leading villa resort in the World Tourism Awards 2023, adding to its extensive roll call of national and global awards.
With five striking villas tucked into the ridgeline on a peninsula north of Russell, Eagles Nest is supremely positioned to take in the ever-changing seascape of this ultimate maritime playground with boats and dolphin antics, lush native bush and birdsong, big skies and Instagram-worthy sunsets.
Exemplifying a perfect fusion of architecture and environment, Eagles Nest’s private villas with infinity pools, jacuzzis and access to a private beach, surpass guests’ expectations whether a honeymooning couple, a party of family and friends travelling together, or a celebrity and their entourage.
Design-forward contemporary interiors with original New Zealand artworks, eclectic furnishings and expansive windows to frame the views define the villas named Sacred Space, First Light, Eagle Spirit, Eyrie and Rahimoana.
With its aerofoil copper roof hovering above three-metre sliding glass walls, the premier four-bedroom villa Rahimoana – Sun God Over The Ocean in Māori – offers head-swivelling views of ocean, islands, sunsets and landscapes and comes with its own concierge and personal chef.
Guests can self-cater in the villas’ gourmet kitchens, have meals prepared by Eagles Nest’s resident chefs featuring fresh locally sourced foods, or dine in nearby Russell.
Dedicated guest experience coordinators can curate activities and adventures on the sea, land and in the air with the Bay of Islands offering up big game fishing, scenic cruising, sailing, diving, kayaking, native bush trail walking, mountain biking, and heli-sightseeing.
Eagles Nest is also developing a 2km nature trail with scenic viewpoints along the way and has introduced night-time Kiwi spotting walks for an authentic New Zealand experience.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay
Consistently named among the world’s leading luxury hotels, resorts and lodges, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers sits elevated above the Pacific Ocean on the impressive Hawke’s Bay coastline.
Located on a 2,400ha working sheep and cattle farm around 25km from Napier’s airport, the boutique lodge promises “a farmstay like no other” and proudly sports an internationally-acclaimed clifftop golf course.
The Farm has 22 deluxe hilltop, ridge or lodge suites and an exceptional four-bedroom self-contained villa, all exuding understated country luxury and offering comfort and pure relaxation, with lodge facilities including a gym, pool, day spa and library.
All meals are included in the tariff with bountiful produce from Hawke’s Bay, and harvests from The Farm’s extensive gardens, championed by head chef James Honore, with menus changing daily and accompanied by wines from a vast cellar.
Guests can explore the wider property with The Farm’s Can-Am experience, venturing across rugged terrain into areas that are harder to access by foot – like the largest, mainland colony of gannets in the world, and hidden picnic locations including historic Rangaika Beach.
The Cape Sanctuary experience gives insight into volunteer-led conservation work, travelling off-road to native bird habitats where Kākā, Kākāriki, North Island robins, tomtits, whiteheads and signs of Kiwi activity may be spotted.
The challenging Cape Kidnappers par-71 golf course designed by legendary golf course architect Tom Doak, is built atop dramatic cliffs with every hole having such unbelievable views that even seasoned golfers take their eyes off the ball.
As custodians of this special land, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers’ sustainability journey continues to evolve and is at the forefront of all lodge operations.
From 1st December 2023, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is to be known as Rosewood Cape Kidnappers.
Solitaire Lodge, Lake Tarawera, Rotorua
Time slows down at Solitaire Lodge located on a private headland overlooking Lake Tarawera.
It is the deepest and clearest of the Rotorua region’s 17 lakes, backdropped by lush natural bush and striking volcanic landscapes.
Standing at the gateway to many natural wonders that define this part of the world, Solitaire was one of New Zealand’s first full-service, personally hosted luxury lodges and has retained its reputation as a best-kept-secret hideaway destination for national and international guests.
Subtle improvements over time ensure discerning guest requirements are exceeded, and Solitaire’s nine suites with private balconies are in a commanding position to witness the ever-changing colours of Lake Tarawera, with early morning mists yielding to sparkling blue-green waters.
Take in the postcard views from the freestanding baths or living areas in each suite or gather for pre-dinner drinks and canapes on the deck off the lodge’s dining room for a new perspective.
Talented chefs create daily-changing menus reflecting seasonal produce, with contemporary-style dishes providing a special New Zealand twist to surprise.
Vanishing in the wake of Mount Tarawera’s eruption in 1886, the famed 19th-century tourist-magnet pink and white silica terraces of Lake Rotomahana, considered to be the eighth wonder of the world, were in the vicinity of Solitaire Lodge.
Today, the lodge’s team can arrange for active relaxers to have an early-morning bathe in the local hot springs, take a day excursion by boat to the 65-metre high Tarawera Falls, steer you to picnic spots on the gin-clear lake, and facilitate kayaking, trout fishing or hiking adventures with passionate guides.
The local Tūhourangi and Ngāti Rangitihi people have established successful tourism businesses in the area, allowing guests at Solitaire Lodge to tap into the Māori heritage that overlays this unique geothermal slice of New Zealand.
Bay of Many Coves, Marlborough Sounds
Set on 60ha of pristine native bush with walking tracks, the five-star Bay of Many Coves Lodge is the jewel of the Marlborough Sounds, offering a world-class escape and an ideal base for exploring the Queen Charlotte Track.
Within Queen Charlotte Sound and only accessible by water and air, the lodge is 30 minutes by water taxi from Picton or a jaw-dropping scenic helicopter flight from Wellington, Blenheim, Nelson or Picton.
Upgraded and ultra-comfortable high-end villas of various sizes, plus the flagship spacious kererū suite, are dotted around the elevated site that runs down to the safe beach with its own jetty.
Food is thoughtfully prepared by respected chefs with a focus on local produce, complemented by an impressive cellar ripe with Marlborough’s lauded wines.
Hospitality flows at the Kumatage in-house guest lounge, there’s fine dining at The Foredeck restaurant, convivial options at the recently revamped Quarterdeck Lounge by the water, and room service available.
The lodge is the only establishment in the Marlborough Sounds open all-year round – with guests encouraged to visit during the calm, sunny and peaceful shoulder and winter months.
Guests can enjoy the lodge’s day spa, stroll through native bush to the waterfall, walk the Lookout Loop Track for panoramic views over Queen Charlotte Sound, relax in the hot tub or heated swimming pool, and marvel at native bush glow-worm lights after dark.
The Bay of Many Coves team can arrange fully guided wildlife and dolphin cruises, fishing trips, a twilight dinner cruise or wine trail tour, yacht charters, or visits to a pāua pearl farm.
Sustainable tourism overarches the lodge’s operation, being essentially zero-impact through intentional eco-practices and having a light environmental footprint by recycling, composting, harvesting spring water, nurturing gardens with wastewater, and planting native trees to encourage abundant birdlife.
Blanket Bay, Southern Lakes
Relaxation, adventure and luxury meet at Blanket Bay, the quintessential alpine-style country lodge at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, 45 minutes’ drive from Queenstown.
The Blanket Bay estate is part of Wyuna Station, a working sheep and cattle farm, with the striking timber and stone main lodge set slightly back from the lake’s shore and embracing large open fireplaces, expansive windows to frame the lake and mountain vistas and niche spaces for guests to enjoy.
Accommodation spans relaxed rooms and suites in the main lodge, spacious and private chalets, the luxurious Blanket Bay Villa, or the generous and secluded Owner’s Residence.
Award-winning local chef Dan Reynolds heads up the Blanket Bay kitchen, where a Euro Pacific five-course degustation menu changes daily, celebrating seasonal New Zealand produce, to be savoured in one of the lodge’s intimate dining spaces.
With quite literally a bucket list of thrills to be checked off during a stay at Blanket Bay, the lodge’s team can book bespoke tours so guests can access some of the more remote parts of New Zealand.
Helicopter flights over Te Wāhipounamu – the UNESCO South West New Zealand World Heritage Area comprising four national parks – heli-skiing or jet-boating escapades, or guided fly-fishing adventures in nearby pristine rivers renowned for brown and rainbow trout are all on offer.
Pride in the lodge’s unblemished location means sustainable practices have underpinned Blanket Bay’s daily operations since the property was established nearly 25 years ago, with new initiatives including on-site organic gardens to provide the kitchen with year-round produce, and planning for a comprehensive solar array to help reduce reliance on the power grid.
Blanket Bay’s professional and personable hospitality team consistently exceeds guest expectations, with the lodge’s holistic offering and serene setting the envy of many of its international counterparts.