Indagare Matchmaker: New Zealand’s Best Hotels

A trip to New Zealand is an epic 10/10: the world-class lodges, the food, the people, the landscapes—which range from mountains to woods to beach to farmland–and everything is stunning.

Below, we cover our favorite properties on the North and South islands, plus the highlights at each hotel.

Join COO Eliza Harris on a special Indagare Journey to New Zealand April 3-10, 2024, featuring fabulous accommodations and special experiences. Email to be the first to receive the itinerary when it is released. 

Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to New Zealand. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

North Island

For Sybarites: The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs

The first of the iconic Robertson properties to open (the other two: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri), Kauri Cliffs is near the northernmost tip of the North Island. It has a top-rated golf course but also beautiful beaches and hikes on property. This is a great place to start a New Zealand itinerary because it’s not far from Auckland and offers a big wow. The barbecue dinner on the beach is always a highlight. The spectacular new three-bedroom residences have private pools and are ideal for families.

Location: Bay of Islands, North Island Landscape: Rolling green hills, palm and silver beech trees, pink beach Vibe: Elegant, polished, slightly formal, feels like a country club Key activities: World-class golf course, swimming, walks around property, a Can-Am off-road tour, pickleball Insider tip: Skip the three-hour drive by making your transfer from Auckland by helicopter. It’s a gorgeous ride of about an hour that gives you a lay of the land with views of coves, beaches and teal water.

Related: Just Back from New Zealand, by Indagare COO Eliza Harris

For Golfers: Te Arai Links

Any passionate golfer will want a night or two at the beachfront Te Arai Links in Mangawhai (Indagare review coming soon). About an hour north of Auckland, it makes a good first stop on an itinerary for golf lovers.

Opened in 2022, the property is known for two exceptional golf courses, the North Course, designed by the esteemed Tom Doak (who also designed nearby Tara Iti and Cape Kidnappers), and the South Course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

The resort’s casual restaurant, Ric’s, is flanked by a 2.5-acre putting green (the largest in the world), known as the Playground; bring your putter and play between cocktails.

Location: Mangawhai, North Island Landscape: Links course, sand dunes, wide beach Vibe: Casual, relaxed Key activities: Golf, beach walks, spa Insider tip: Golfers will also want to play nearby Tara Iti, also designed by Tom Doak and ranked the number two golf course in the world by Golf Digest. Though it’s a private club, they will accept non-members once, pending availability, by invitation from a member. (You will have better luck in the shoulder season.)

For Wanderers: The Boatshed

If Nantucket and Napa Valley had a baby, it would be Waiheke Island, a one-hour ferry from Auckland. Wineries, art galleries, restaurants, garden sanctuaries, and hidden beaches make for fun exploring by Jeep. Add a few nights here to the beginning or end of any New Zealand itinerary for a relaxed escape. The Boatshed, a casual and charming bed-and-breakfast on a hilltop, makes an ideal base from which to explore.

Location: Waiheke, North Island Landscape: Rolling hills, beaches, cute towns Vibe: Casual, hippie, fun to explore Key activities: Wineries, beaches, art galleries, shops, wandering Insider tip: Book lunch or dinner at the romantic and picturesque restaurant at Mudbrick Vineyard, overlooking fragrant gardens of sculpted topiary and lavender.

For a Woodsy Retreat: Huka Lodge

Located in the woods on the banks of an emerald-green river, Huka Lodge is an intimate and cozy fishing property with wood paneling, books, roaring fires and hunting prints on the walls. It pairs well with The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.

Location: Taupo, North Island Landscape:Woods, river, famous nearby waterfall Vibe: Cozy fishing lodge with wood paneling Key activities: Fishing with a guide, white-water rafting Insider tip: Book a private dinner in advance at one of the lodge’s special locations, such as in the library or down by the river.

For On-Property Adventure: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

A 6,000-acre working sheep station, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers has a compelling landscape of undulating hills with a superb golf course. There is a bird sanctuary on property that protects endangered kiwis. It’s a great pick for families; book three nights to make the most of the many excursions.

Location: Hawke’s Bay, North Island Landscape: Dramatic, undulating hills, clifftop views Vibe: Outdoorsy, active Key activities: Top-rated golf course, farm tour, ATVs, gannet walk, wineries, Can-Am tour Insider tip: At certain times of the year, you can go out with the property’s on-site biologist to find baby kiwis, who have radio collars. The biologist will find them in the forest duff, weigh and measure them, and feed them grubs to help them survive in the wild.

For Your Own Country Estate: Wharekauhau​ Country Estate

Courtesy Wharekauhau Country Estate

A drive or helicopter ride from Wellington on the Southern tip of North Island, Wharekauhau Country Estate(pronounced Foray-ko-ho) is a traditional country station on 5,000 spectacular acres overlooking Palliser Bay. The property is a comfortable and stylish homebase to meet other guests and enjoy the many activities offered on property, as well as in the surrounding area, such as wine tasting in Martinborough and a visit to the fur seal colony in nearby Ngawi fishing village.

Location: ​Palliser Bay, North Island Landscape: ​Expansive ocean views, dramatic cliffs, rolling farmland and foothills Vibe: ​Coastal country estate experience, traditional seaside decor Key activities: ​Working Farm Tour, ATV Quad Biking on the black sand beaches, clay shooting, and surfcasting. Insider tip:​ Witness a sheep shearing demonstration and sheep dogs in action on the property's Signature Farm Tour and then hike up the nearby Mt. Wharekauhau for spectacular views.

South Island

For Foodies: Otahuna Lodge

A restored Victorian country house hotel in the farmland outside of Christchurch, Otahuna Lodge is known for its exceptional food. Chef Jimmy McIntyre, now in his 16th year at the property, makes good use of the more than 140 different fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms grown in the property’s expansive gardens.

Location: Tai Tapu, South Island Landscape: Canterbury Plains, pastoral Vibe: Restored country house, gardens, cozy, foodie Key activities: Cooking class, boat excursion to see dolphins, garden tour, walks Insider tip: The ultimate Otahuna combination is a garden tour with Jimmy followed by a cooking class using what was harvested.

For Ultimate Privacy: The Homestead at Flockhill

Opened in 2022, The Homestead at Flockhill (Indagare review coming soon) is an exceptional fully staffed, four-bedroom villa atop a hill in the rugged landscape of Craigieburn. It’s a working sheep station and one of the best activities is seeing the sheepdogs in action herding with the fantastic local guide.

Location: Arthur’s Pass, Craigieburn, near Christchurch, South Island Landscape: Mountains, grassland, waterfalls, boulders Vibe: Modern aesthetic, private, impeccable, exclusive Key activities: Hiking amid limestone boulders, farm tour, walk to waterfalls, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking Insider tip: Ask the chef to do a barbecue night outside by the fire one night with marshmallows to roast. This is a highlight for families in particular.

For Wilderness Immersion: Minaret Station Alpine Lodge

Set on a 50,000-acre working farm in Wanaka, adjacent to Mount Aspiring National Park, Minaret Station Alpine Lodge offers an immersive wilderness experience. The property, which has just four chalets, can only be reached by boat or helicopter. It’s intimate and special and a reflection of the Wallis family’s very personal vision.

Location: Wanaka, South Island Landscape: Southern Alps, wilderness Vibe: Remote, immersive, rustic, special, authentic Key activities: Helicopter excursions, hiking right from the property, farm tour Insider tip: Arrange a full-day Fiordland helicopter excursion to Milford or Dusky Sound. It’s an epic excursion that is best done with their guides and pilots.

For Sublime Alpine Views: Blanket Bay

With perhaps the most spectacular views of any lodge in New Zealand, Blanket Bay overlooks Lake Wakatipu with the Southern Alps spread behind. It is a fantastic gateway to the wilderness areas around Glenorchy, including the Routeburn Track for hiking and the Dart River for boating.

Location: Glenorchy, South Island Landscape: Lakefront, vast mountainous views, sense of majesty Vibe: Feels like a ski lodge Key activities: Hiking, nature walks, jet boats Insider tip: You can horseback ride right from the property.

For Lakefront Chic: Matakauri Lodge

This stylish property is our top pick if you want to be near Queenstown. Matakauri Lodge is right on the lake, so has beautiful views, but is also a 7-minute drive from town, if you want to go out to dinner or walk around.

Location: Queenstown, South Island Landscape: Lakefront, close to Queenstown Vibe: Chic, elegant, colorful Key activities: Adventure activities (Shotover Jet, bungee jumping), hiking, visits to Arrowtown, biking Insider tip: The two-bedroom suites are perfect for families with teen kids, as they are on two floors with separate entrances.

Join COO Eliza Harris on a special Indagare Journey to New Zealand in March 2024, featuring fabulous accommodations and special experiences. Email to be the first to receive the itinerary when it is released. 

Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to New Zealand. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

This content was created in collaboration with Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Tourism Board and published by Indagare Travel.

Published onMay 15, 2023

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