You can swim with wild dolphins, land on the edge of a volcano, ride horses with an Olympian or find perfect peace on your private balcony, assisted by the finest local food and wine. The North Island’s remarkable geography gives your imagination free rein.
Eagles Nest, Bay of Islands
Getting there: 45 minutes from Kerikeri Airport; 3.5 hour drive from Auckland.
Most recent award: 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards – Country Winner, Luxury Resort
At Eagles Nest you get a 360° view of New Zealand’s most-admired aquatic playground, the Bay of Islands. There are more than 144 islands in this exquisite corner of the Pacific Ocean and most of them are uninhabited wildlife sanctuaries. The local waters are known for exceptional diving, sailing and game fishing. This is also the place for one-to-one dolphin encounters, without crowds of people getting in the way. Eagles Nest is the perfect base for marine and island adventures, welcoming you home each night with Pacific Rim cuisine and your own spa with a view of the stars.
More about Eagles Nest >
Kauri Cliffs, Bay of Islands
Getting there: 25 minutes from Kerikeri Airport; 3.5 hour drive from Auckland.
Most recent award: Conde Nast Traveller USA Gold List January 2012 (rating of 98.4)
A legend in the golfing world, Kauri Cliffs wins your heart with 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and a par 72 championship golf course. While golf might be your primary reason to visit, there are many other ways to appreciate Kauri Cliffs. You can explore Kauri Station on horseback with Olympian eventer Kate Hewlett, host a private barbecue on a magnificent private beach or take a ‘bird walk’ with a local ornithologist. Every evening, mesmerizing views of Cape Brett and the Cavalli Islands give cocktail hour a special touch a magic.
More about Kauri Cliffs >
Huka Lodge, Lake Taupo
Getting there: 10 minutes from Taupo Airport, 3.5 hour drive from Auckland.
Most recent award: The Tatler Enduring Excellence Award, 2010.
Elegantly nestled alongside the turquoise-green waters of the Waikato River, just 300m upstream from a thundering waterfall, Huka Lodge began life as a 1920s trout-fishing retreat. Today it’s widely regarded to be one of the world’s very best exclusive lodges, frequented by royalty and celebrities too numerous to list. Seventeen acres of park-like grounds provide all kinds of recreation, however a complete picture of the region requires ‘the Huka Experience’ – an all-day adventure that features volcano-top helicopter landings, geothermal valleys and crater lake gourmet cruising, with a spot of trout fishing for good measure.
More about Huka Lodge >
The Farm, Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay
Getting there: 25 minutes from Napier Airport.
Most recent award: Conde Nast Traveller USA Gold List January 2012 (Best for Food Australasia and South Pacific)
Described as ‘farm luxe’, this lodge echoes the rural feeling of a New Zealand sheep station. Massive fire places with huge Pacific views, accomplished modern New Zealand cuisine and a golf course that ranks in the world’s Top 30 make The Farm instantly admirable. You’ll also appreciate close proximity to the Hawke’s Bay wine region, which can claim some of the Australasia’s best cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay wines. However the experiences that make The Farm particularly memorable are bird-related - while here you can visit the world’s largest mainland gannet colony and embark on a radio-tracked kiwi discovery walk with a local expert.
More about The Farm >