building emerging from trees onto river
Indagare Adored

Huka Lodge

One of New Zealand’s premier lodges, this intimate 26-suite property along the banks of the Waikato river is situated just upstream from Huka Falls.

Editors' Picks
Indagare Plus
view of exterior of hotel entrance overlooking bay in background
Indagare Adored

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Emerald hills and 800-foot cliffs plunge into the brilliant blue ocean at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, which is also a sheep farm and golf destination.

Editors' Picks
Indagare Plus
master bedroom of hotel suite with king bed and fireplace and creamy yellow walls
Indagare Adored

The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs

The first of the Robertson luxury lodges in New Zealand, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is still the property to book in the northern Bay of Islands.

Editors' Picks
Indagare Plus
Exterior - Acacia Cliffs Lodge, North Island, New Zealand

Acacia Cliffs Lodge

Linda Whitlock used to take her then-three-year-old daughter to a deer farm on a hillside high above Lake Taupo to feed the animals. Today, Acacia Cliffs Lodge, which Linda runs alongside her husband, Rick, stands on the very spot. And even though the Whitlocks are well-traveled (they have also lived in Auckland and all over Europe), their heart is so clearly here — in the beautiful Taupo area. Acacia Cliffs is their dream lodge, built from the ground up and opened in 2008.

Unlike many New Zealand lodges, the architecture inside and out is contemporary. Rooms are built around floor-to-ceiling windows (three of the four guest rooms face the lake) and are done mostly in white, black and charcoal with touches of red and framed photographs of native birds adding bursts of color. Bathrooms are spacious and comfortable, but only one has a separate tub. Three rooms sit on the lower floor and one larger suite is located on the upper floor besides the large living room and open kitchen.

At Acacia Cliffs, you are sharing close quarters with other guests (travelers who do not like the idea of mingling over a glass of wine at the end of the day should book elsewhere). But a personal touch is what Acacia is all about. Linda and Rick are a wealth of information about the Taupo area and happy to make suggestions based on the weather, fitness level and personal interest. Rick also happens to be a chef (he has run restaurants for 30 years), and guests can pre-arrange dinner at the lodge for one of their nights. Otherwise, Taupo is an eight-minute drive away and there are many restaurant options in the area. Anyone coming from lodges where five-course meals are the norm might also welcome the idea of having a lighter night. Rick prepares canapés every evening – while I stayed, he whipped up a gorgeous, cold-smoked trout, which was served with delicious local bread slathered in butter and a touch of wasabi. Served with a glass of crisp Sauvignon, while I sat watching the Taupo lights twinkle in the distance as the lake turned dark, this was a wonderfully local, light dinner.

Unknown image

Eagle's Nest Villas

A collection of five contemporary style villas set within a 75-acre estate on a peninsula overlooking the Bay of Islands, Eagle’s Nest offers the ultimate home-away-from-home stay. The property’s small collection of uber sleek, modern accommodations range from one to four bedrooms, each uniquely positioned and designed to maximize and enhance their view over lush landscape and the vibrant sea beyond. Eagle’s Nest villas feature large, floor-to-ceiling glass windows or doors and many include vast, furnished outdoor spaces (some with private pools and jacuzzis) giving guests the sense that they are floating above the ocean. Clean lines and natural materials create a contemporary and casually elegant aesthetic that is warmed with original artwork and the occasional antique furnishing.

While the property does not offer public space or the facilities of a proper lodge, all villas are abundantly stocked with food and beverages and an impressive roster of fantastic private chefs are available for hire, along with personal trainers and spa therapists for those seeking in-villa training and treatments. Eagle’s Nest’s close proximity to the town of Russell makes it a great option for those who enjoy being close to local life. With a few buzzy restaurants and quaint mom and pop shops to browse, the charming, seaside summer town has ample opportunity for families and couples to take advantage of leisure time here. Moreover, Eagle’s Nest allows guests to explore all of the best activities of the region, including sailing, cycling, fishing, scuba diving, horse trekking and golf.

There is a small on-site management team on hand to assist with transfer and activity arrangements along with additional for-hire services like butlers, chauffeurs, dry cleaning and catering.

A bathroom with gray and white tiled flooring and wall with a white sink and two mirrors along the wall and a large soaking tub in the back in front of a window overlooking Auckland

Park Hyatt Auckland

The Park Hyatt Auckland is well-located on the Wynyard Quarter’s Lighter Basin, with views of the downtown skyline and Waitemata Harbour.

Editors' Picks
Indagare Plus
Suite at Sofitel Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Sofitel Auckland

Surprisingly, New Zealand’s largest city doesn’t have a real winner in the luxury hotel scene (where is the Eichardt’s of Auckland?). Currently, the Sofitel, located at the entrance of the Viaduct Harbour and in walking distance to most major sights, jostles for the top position with the Hilton (the Langham is tired and in dire need of a make over). The French-run hotel has a lot going for it – redone entirely in 2012, it feels fresh and modern, with its 172 rooms and suites done in a chocolate-beige-white color scheme, with comfortable king-sized beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and large bathrooms, with separate tubs and showers.

You yearn for a little more personality in the somewhat confusingly laid-out common spaces, including a lobby lounge that overlooks interior pools and courtyards but doesn’t really come together in the Zen way the architect presumably had in mind. The staff, however, including a plugged-in and speedy concierge team, is extremely friendly and works hard to keep guests – many of who are passing through town on business – happy. In the evening, the property’s Sabrage Bar on the ground floor has a surprisingly good mix of locals and visitors and a nice menu of local wines. It’s a nice spot for a cocktail or glass of wine before heading out to the trendy Wynyard Quarter to dinner. The fact that many Auckland sights and restaurants are within walking distance is the property’s greatest draw.

Editors' Picks
Aerial View - Solitaire Lodge, North Island, New Zealand

Solitaire Lodge

In the early 19th century, Europeans who came to visit New Zealand were usually drawn by a single destination: the Pink and White Terraces near Lake Rotorua. Formed by geothermal waters, the terraces were often referred to as the eight wonder of the world. They were destroyed when Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886 in a blast so powerful that it could be heard on South Island. Today, the spacious guest rooms of the aptly named Solitaire Lodge look toward this now dormant volcano, reminding in-the-know visitors that they are staying in New Zealand’s original tourism center – and in one of its most beautiful regions.

Rotorua itself has become a commercial hot bed for extreme sports and a touristy scene (although the excellent Rotorua Museum deserves a visit). How refreshing then that Solitaire is about a 30-minute drive east of town, nestled in a valley that’s studded with lakes (in all, there are 17). The lodge has been around since 1980, and some of the architecture looks a bit dated. The current owners, however, have wisely invested in the room interiors, which feel fresh and modern with floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, new carpets and a chic cream-and-white color scheme. The nine guest suites have sizeable bed, living and bathrooms, and come with beautiful views. All have a separate shower and bathtub – the best of which are positioned in a window for prime lake views.

Not that you are limited to bathing in your room. Even today, the Rotorua is full of hot pools warmed by geothermal steam, and right across the lake from Solitaire, guests can visit a series of pools (early in the morning, you have them all to yourself) tucked into a lush green forest. The Solitaire team works hard overall to show their guests the authentic parts of an area that has become a bit too commercialized for their taste. There’s a rugged mountain biking trek through a thermal forest; a hike to a secluded waterfall; a helicopter tour to the steaming White Island, with a touch down on a volcano crater closer to home. On property, activities are a bit more limited – the grounds are not massive – but guests can take advantage of a number of water toys, including kayaks for lakeside exploring.

Back in the main lodge, the ambience is laid-back and casual. The library is full of great books about New Zealand, the fire starts going mid-afternoon, and the bar is stocked with local wines and whiskeys. Dinner at the moment is a five-course affair with a menu that changes every night (all rates at Solitaire include all meals due to the remote location), but the owners and the chefs are considering adding some small-plate, a la carte dining options. Judging from the current, extremely high level of cooking here, it will be interesting what the chefs dream up for a more tapas-style New Zealand–inspired menu.

After dinner, some guests linger by the fire for a night cap but many head to bed in order to be up again with the rising sun. It erupts from behind the mountains, transforming the smooth lake into a limpid palate of yellows, silvers and blues, and looking out from your room at Solitaire, you feel an affinity with those first Rotorua visitors in the early 1800s who saw those same landscapes and – surely – felt the same awe.

Unknown image

The Boatshed

The casual-cool Boatshed, on Waiheke Island, is set on a hillside above Little Oneroa Beach and has views of the bay, always dotted by boats. Its suites are tucked into different wooden structures, including a boat shed (of course), as well as an incredibly romantic lighthouse-style tower (complete with wooden deck) and two freestanding clapboard bungalows.

Interiors are designer friendly and boast a nautical theme, with blue and white color schemes, overstuffed couches like the ones found in New England summer cottages and sailing memorabilia. Floors are reclaimed, stripped wood, and some rooms come with fireplaces and freestanding bathtubs. Best of all, the lovely team behind this cute lodge – there are just five suites and the two bungalows – has put a lot of thought into the amenities, which include beach bags, sun tan lotion, umbrellas and sun hats.

As with all properties belonging to the Luxury Lodges of New Zealand group, the Boatshed places a firm emphasis on food and wine – meals are a multi-course affair here, and some of the fruit and vegetables are grown in a lovely kitchen garden on property. (Another highlight is the Waiheke Island–roasted coffee for breakfast.)

Waiheke has touches of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket – on a much smaller scale. Guests can rent bikes to explore (though be aware that the island is quite hilly, so it's a work out) or walk to Oneroa and Little Oneroa beaches, both of which are excellent for swimming during the summertime. You can also stroll into Oneroa village, one of the few places in all of New Zealand that manages a collection of some cute shops with locally made treasures, as well as arts and craft studios. And then, of course, there are the wineries: Waiheke is known for a few terrific vineyards and olive groves that can be sampled (read more about the wineries here). At the end of the day, guests return to a sumptuous four-course meal in a candle-lit, seaside ambience that's supremely romantic.

hotel lodge building along a calm water edge with green hills behind it

Wharekauhau Lodge

In 2010, U.S.-based couple Bill and Carol Foley purchased a working sheep station in one of the North Island’s most scenic corners: the Wairarapa region. One imagines that driving towards the glorious country estate for the first time, they were enchanted by the same scenic that guests experience today. The drive from Wellington may just take one-and-a-half hours, but it is one of such dramatic landscapes that by the time you arrive at Wharekauhau – which is actually pronounced Foray-ko-ho– you feel transported into a different world.

The bucolic pastures are dotted with sheep and cattle; the cliffs ahead of you drop sharply down to a black sand beach; and the wild Pacific stretches as far as the eye can see. And just as your mind tries to compute the sheer natural beauty of this countryside retreat, you arrive at the main lodge and are bowled over yet again – this time by the stylish interiors of New Zealand designer Virginia Fischer.

Banish all thoughts of a rustic farming lodge with dark wood and checkered throws. Fischer, who has also designed Queenstown's Matakauri Lodge and Eichardt’s Private Hotel, is a master of airy, soaring spaces, and at Wharekauhau’s main lodge, one room is more beautiful than the next, from a blue-and-white day room with whicker chairs and framed botanical drawings to a fantastic open kitchen area, whose selves are lined with potted herbs and brass kitchen utensils. Views throughout are focused on the sea in the distance or the lodge’s surrounding gardens.

The same great mix of style and comfort continues in the 13 guest cottages, which are clustered in two groups beside the main lodge, making it easy for guests to walk to and from meals and activities (instead of getting lost on this rather massive property). The spacious living/bedrooms have high ceilings with white-painted beams, large gas fireplaces and comfortable couches and chairs. The walk-n closet is the size of some Manhattan apartments and the bathroom has deep soaking tubs and separate showers. The cluster of Stormwatch Cottages is closer to the bluff that overlooks the ocean, while the Wetland Cottages are closer to the main lodge – but every room has wonderful views and a sense of space and privacy. There are patios for evening cocktails, even though most guests choose to mingle at the main lodge pre-dinner, chatting with the charming lodge manager and comparing the days’ activities.

And unlike at some other remote country retreats, activities at Wharekauhau abound. The property itself has several hiking and walking paths, and guests can take one of the mountain bikes for a ride, or practice their clay target shooting or archery skills. The Farm Tour is a popular option, which is a two-plus-hour exploration of the property and includes a sheep shearing demonstration and a short walk through a beautiful forest of ferns and native trees. Acclaimed New Zealand wine region Martinborough is a 35-minute drive away, and guests can go on a behind-the-scenes wine tour through some of the area’s best wineries. Even on rainy days, there’s an indoor pool, a pool table, board games, a well-stocked library and in-room spa treatments that can be arranged.

You will need to be really active during the day in order to feel deserving of the bountiful meals at Wharekauhau. Suffice it to say that the breakfast buffet includes five types of homemade bread and that the wonderful, friendly staff will not let you get away with ordering just coffee (and they will be spot-on that the eggs and bacon on sourdough they bring you will indeed be the best of your trip). In the evening, the indulgent cuisine, paired with local wines, is a showstopper. Lamb and beef figure prominently, but this being the coast, there are also wonderful seafood dishes and much of the produce and fruit is grown right on property.

Editors' Picks
Indagare Plus

All Results


Indagare employees walking up stiars

Enjoy 30 Days On Us!

Start your Self Planner
membership trial today.

Unlock access to 2,000+ first-hand hotel reviews, 300+ Destination Guides and the most up-to-date travel news and inspiration.

Already a member?

Welcome back,
log in to Indagare

Not a member?

Forgot Password

Enter your email and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Type the first 3 letters to begin