HomeAsia-PacificInside the Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation

Inside the Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation

New Zealand continues to be a hotspot in world tourism. It checks all the boxes. There are no safety issues. It wasn’t caught up in the now gone Zika scare. It is on target with the trend towards experiential travel. It offers a plethora of outdoor activities from skiing to ocean and river fishing, hiking, biking, shooting, alpine adventures, including heli-hiking. It’s a great place if you like driving amidst great scenery. There is sailing and it is becoming a popular place to bring your superyacht. New Zealand’s wineries and golf courses are world rated. You can also track scenes from Lord of the Rings. The country is also popular with international investors so you might end up combining business with your vacation. Most of all, New Zealand has been sprouting award-winning luxury lodges, many with impressive ‘owner’s cottages’ and high-level culinary offerings. Chad Clark Travel Ventures was founded when its namesake decided to give up a corner office in the corporate world to pursue his love of food, wine, culture, new destinations, and golf. When Chad told me he was going to New Zealand, I asked him to scout out what he considers the best lodges and specifically the best accommodations at each. His report is below.

1. Kauri Cliffs
2. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
3. Matakauri Lodge
4. Huka Lodge
5. Edenhouse
6. Blanket Bay

1. Kauri Cliffs

Golf Digest ranked Kauri Cliffs Golf Course #49 in the world, and it has 15 holes facing the Pacific Ocean (7th hole below).

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Kauri Cliffs

The premium accommodation at Kauri Cliffs is the Owner’s Cottage (below), a beautifully decorated two suite house with large open plan living and dining, a Chef’s kitchen and study which can be converted to a third bedroom suitable for a child or nanny.  What makes the Owner’s Cottage so special is the East facing aspect overlooking the 10th fairway, rolling hills and the Pacific Ocean.  On the stone terrace is a gorgeous infinity edge swimming pool (below) with hot tub, perfect for families and private enjoyment.  On the inland side is a secret walled garden, lushly planted in subtropical native flora. The Owner’s Cottage is a perfect home away from home offering full privacy, and access to all of the lodges fabulous amenities and experiences.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Kauri Cliffs

In the Owner’s Cottage, your mini bar is extensive and includes complimentary wines, beers, and a decanter bar. They can also provide the option of a private chef for dinner service, inclusive in the tariff. 

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Kauri Cliffs

Personal Favorites

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Kauri Cliffs

At Kauri Cliffs the Deluxe Suites (above) are my favorite offering a slightly more elevated position and nearer proximity to the main lodge and amenities such as the spa and gymnasium. My favorite is #16 for its seclusion and that it also has an option to be reserved as a Family Suite with an interconnecting second bedroom, or #2 for its proximity to the main lodge and swimming pool.  The suites are all set in pairs within freestanding cottages, nestled in a forest. The  morning experience is like waking in an aviary when you hear the birdsong – and the sunrise, facing directly east over the ocean – it is breathtaking.  Be sure to let nature wake you and enjoy the morning on your balcony watching Tui and Kereru dart through the trees.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Kauri Cliffs

For suites #22 is my favorite. It is the furthest from the main lodge so very private. It is surrounded by farmland so in the spring there is a great chance you will be able to watch the newborn lambs playing right from your balcony.

Getting There

There is a local airport (Kerikeri/Bay of Islands – KKE) with a runway of 3,904 ft., and it is not a port of entry. Air Center One provides handling. It is 26 miles from the resort. Alternatively, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs has its own EC130 helicopter which is able to be hired for transfers into and out of Auckland, for either Domestic or International Flights. For arriving International Guests, the pilot will meet you at the Arrivals Hall and escort you to the helicopter, a three-minute walk away. The transfer to Kauri Cliffs is a scenic coastal flight lasting one hour, and touching down directly on the helipad at the lodge.

2. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Golf Digest ranked Cape Kidnappers Golf Course #16 in the world.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

The premium accommodation at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is the Owner’s Cottage (above) – a four suite house designed to be reserved as either a two or four bedrooms.  Each of the suites provide full ensuite bathroom, open plan bedroom and sitting area, generous walk-in wardrobes and their own wet bar and fireplace.  There are two study’s, one in each wing of the house joined together with a spacious open plan dining, kitchen and living room.  It is a perfect space to reserve for a group of friends, or multi-generational family traveling together providing ample space and privacy for each couple and a wonderful great room to come together and share time.  The large stone terrace is perfect for private BBQ’S or our Chef can prepare and serve a private dinner to guests.  The Owner’s Cottage is a perfect space to share time offering full privacy for guests, a private jacuzzi, spectacular living and entertaining areas and access to all of the lodges fabulous amenities and experiences.

In the Owner’s Cottage, the mini bar is extensive and includes complimentary wines, beer and a spirit decanter bar.  They can also provide the option of a private chef for dinner service, inclusive in the tariff.

Personal Favorites

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

At Cape Kidnappers my favorite suite category is the Ridge Suites.  These suites are set along the ridgeline, separate to the main lodge and in free standing cottages, each with two adjoining suites.  They offer 180-degree views of Cape Kidnappers station, overlooking the Pacific and entire Hawke’s Bay. The perfect honeymoon retreat  #22 is situated furthest from the main lodge, set at the end of a private path with stunning landscape all around.  If you are quiet in the evening you can sit on the balcony, enjoy the southern stars and listen for the kiwi calls in the Cape Sanctuary. 

Getting There

Napier Hawkes Bay Airport is 17 miles from the resort and has a 5,741 ft. runway. It is an international port and Air Center One/Skyline Aviation provides full FBO services.  

3. Matakauri Lodge

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Matakauri Lodge

The premium accommodation at Matakauri is the Owner’s Cottage (above) – a four suite house designed to be able to be reserved as either a two bedroom option or with four bedrooms and accommodating up to 8 guests. Each of the suites provide a full ensuite bathroom, bedroom and sitting area with generous walk in wardrobes, minibar, and fireplaces.  The cottage also provides a guest office and drying/storage room for ski equipment. Perfect for entertaining and sharing time together the spacious open plan dining and the sitting room opens to a  breathtaking balcony perched over Lake Wakatipu with views to The Remarkables mountain range and a private courtyard dining area for casual outdoor meals. The Chef’s kitchen allows private dining service should the guests desire.  The private Jacuzzi situated on the main balcony offers a spectacular vantage point to breathe in the spectacular mountain scenery and southern stars.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Matakauri Lodge

In the Owner’s Cottage, the mini bar is extensive and includes complimentary wines, beer and a  spirit decanter bar. They can also provide the option of a private chef for dinner service, inclusive in the tariff.

Personal Favorites

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Matakauri Lodge

The Deluxe Suites outlying from the main lodge are my personal favorite, and #7 just beyond the spa is spectacular.  Situated at the furthest point from the lodge property, privacy is assured in this suite with the view focussing on The Remarkable’s.  If you are lucky enough you will visit during a full moon when the view from your suite of the moon rise over the lake, highlighting the mountains and reflecting in the water is surreal and memorable.  Another favorite feature of these suites is the oversized bathtub that is set beneath an opening window capturing the fresh alpine breeze.

Getting There

Queenstown Airport (ZQN) is 9.5 miles away with a 6,198 ft. runway. It is not 24 hours but is an international port. Queenstown Corporate Jet Services is a full-service FBO. As of June, the NZ CAA was approving limited night operations.

4. Huka Lodge

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Huka Lodge

As the first of New Zealand’s luxury lodges to offer its Owner’s Cottage (above and below) back in the 1980s, Huka Lodge has mastered the art of providing guests in search of the ultimate luxury and privacy with its legendary service, while having easy access to amenities. Virtually hidden from view, it has stunning views downstream to Huka Falls and four superbly decorated spacious guest suites anchored by a central living room, dining area, kitchen, and den. 

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Huka Lodge

Two of the guest suites face the river while the other two enjoy a beautiful private courtyard garden which features a magnificent outdoor fireplace for alfresco dining. The Living Room is the center of the cottage with a magnificent stone fireplace, high ceilings, cream suede couches, antique leather club chairs – a perfect place to host the ultimate house party or to just relax with a good book and glass of New Zealand pinot.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Huka Lodge

Huka Lodge has since added the Alan Pye Cottage to the other end of its spacious estate-like grounds, named after the charming Irishman who first set up camp on this beautiful riverside setting over 90 years ago. Also designed by Virginia Fisher to exacting standards using heritage materials such as cedar,  stone and brick, it reflects a slightly eclectic yet very elegant retreat, with an English Arts and Crafts influence. The two large and stylishly appointed bedrooms both have fireplaces, en suite bathrooms and generous dressing rooms and bookend a generous open plan living room. A study is tucked away with desk, plasma screen television and sound system.  A laundry is also available with the Cottage.

A heated infinity-style swimming pool and a separate private spa pool have been integrated into the outdoor landscape, and there is a fabulous stone outdoor pavilion with stone fireplace within a courtyard garden featuring, which is perfect for cozy afternoon or after-dinner drinks.  With its exclusive access, the Alan Pye Cottage is perfect for families or two couples wanting complete privacy and relaxation in the most serene setting.  Both cottages have well-equipped kitchens set up for a personal chef. Guests may choose to stay in or to wander over to the main Lodge and dine there.

Personal Favorites

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Huka Lodge

My personal favorite is the Alan Pye Cottage (above). The interior colors, the privacy, and the magical view make for the perfect setting. The water is more tranquil around this cottage and it’s such an amazing sensation relaxing in the pool and looking at the river passing by right in front of you.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Huka Lodge

Huka Lodge has 25 suites including the private cottages. The 18 Junior Lodge Suites (at 460 sq. ft.; with 360 sq. ft. bedroom) enjoy beautiful riverside views, en suite bathrooms with separate shower and deep bath, twin hand basins and under-floor heating.  If you’re after space, then the Double Lodge Suite (at 850 sq. ft.) features a sitting room with fireplace, dining, spacious bedroom and two well appointed bathrooms, so ask for suites 4 and 5.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Huka Lodge

Getting There

Taupo Airport (TUO) has a 4,547 ft. runway and is 8 miles away. It is not an airport of entry. Air Center One provides full FBO services.

5. Edenhouse

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Edenhouse

Edenhouse is a super special experience for those desiring “home town” hospitality and incredible attention to detail. Guests can take the Lodge on an exclusive basis as this option is hugely successful with multigenerational families, and offers the various family members a vast choice of available activities.  Edenhouse prides themselves making their guests feel like this is their home away from home. Wonderful farm to table meals, fine and fine wines are included in the dinner tariff, Edenhouse is proud to avoid additional accommodation charges (mini bar, resort fees, etc) apart from laundry.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Edenhouse

Being deliberately limited in guest numbers, Edenhouse only has two Lodge Suites plus the Garden Cottage. The Garden Cottage is the favorite of most bespoke clients. They don’t differentiate between the two Lodge Suites.

Personal Favorites

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Edenhouse

The Garden Cottage is my personal favorite as it contains two bathrooms, space, seclusion, and is located in the middle of  Edenhouse’s beautiful gardens

Getting There

Nelson Airport is 35 miles away with a 4,419 ft. runway and is not an international port of entry. Air Center One provides handling services. 

6. Blanket Bay

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Blanket Bay

When you crave a world of your own, the owners’ residence at Blanket Bay offers seclusion and elegance in a magical setting. Beautifully positioned within established gardens, the stone and timber structures are at one with the magnificent landscape.

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Blanket Bay

Comprised of two buildings – the main house and the studio – Blanket Bay’s Owners’ Residence (above) invites you to step into the ultimate rustic dream. At the main house, the center of attention for social gatherings is the large stone fireplace in the lounge. The spacious master bedroom, which also has a fireplace, offers sensational views of Lake Wakatipu and the Humboldt Mountains. A second bedroom provides luxurious accommodation for your traveling companions. Both bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms. For those whose perfect holiday includes experimenting with seasonal ingredients, or enjoying the talent of one of our chefs, a superbly equipped gourmet kitchen awaits.

Behind the main house is the elevated studio residence, which has another two large en-suite bedrooms. A courtyard walkway connects it to the main house. The entire enclave is framed by beautifully groomed gardens and gracious trees

Personal Favorites

Six Best Lodges for Your New Zealand Vacation
Credit: Blanket Bay

Guest accommodation at Blanket Bay is sumptuous, but also full of character. Three 700 sq. ft. Lodge Suites (above) offer a bedroom and sitting areas with stone fireplaces, and the generous bathrooms come with a steam shower and separate tub. Naturally one would choose to stay in ‘Paradise’ aptly named after the valley it frames.  Chalet suites are another favorite, beautifully designed to reflect New Zealand’s colonial architecture and complement the main lodge through the use of schist stone and timber beams.  ‘Kinloch’ combined with the Richardson Stateroom is a personal favorite.

Getting There 

The resort is located on the north end of Lake Wakatipu with Queenstown mid-lake and is about an hour’s drive from Queenstown’s airport. Queenstown Airport (ZQN) has a 6,198 ft. runway. It is not 24 hours but is an international port. Queenstown Corporate Jet Services is a full-service FBO. As of June, the NZ CAA was approving limited night operations to Queenstown. You can also take a helicopter or fly by light aircraft to Glenorchy Airport with a 2,215 ft. runway which is less than a mile from the resort.

VIP Contact

Chad Clark, CEO of Chad Clark Travel Ventures at cclark@chadclarktravel.com or +1 602.228.2928

Doug Gollanhttp://douggollandotcom.wordpress.com
I am Editor-in-Chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons and DG Amazing Experiences, and a Contributor to Forbes.com.
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