High-End Experiential Travel in New Zealand

Accommodation

New Zealand luxury accommodation has developed its own character, especially over the last 20 years.  Originally there was Huka Lodge, a lovely place of style and character evolved from a fishing lodge.  This was a sanctuary of quality amidst a desert of cheap motel rooms where it was considered a luxury if you had a room to yourself.  Over this time, Huka Lodge developed and brought true 6-star service to New Zealand.  Huka Lodge then went through a period over the last few years where it's formal approach wasn't delighting clients as much.  New management has put that right and clients are delighted again.

About ten years ago, Huka Lodge started spawning imitators which means we now have 7 or 8 of these extreme high quality "superlodges".  These have become a highway for luxury clients and sometimes attract criticism in providing a rarefied atmosphere in which well heeled tourists on the New Zealand Tour keep meeting each other and do not interact enough with the country.  We have of course addressed this with our in-depth activities programmes.

Meanwhile there has been massive investment throughout the country in quality accommodation which has resulted in the appearance of mini-lodges, micro-lodges, eco-lodges, niche lodges and pseudo-lodges!  What this means is that there is now a wide variety of different price levels to choose from within that form which is a small, intimate, personal experience.  Some of these provide excellent value for money at a fraction of the price of the super-lodges.  Others charge a fortune for rather ordinary service.

Meanwhile, our hotels have lagged behind.  There is nothing in this country which resembles a quality resort, and true 5-star hotels are few and far between.  There are plenty of 3-star and 4-star offerings.

So, in selecting accommodation in New Zealand, the luxury traveller has the choice of some reasonable hotels in the major tourist centres and many beautiful lodges and bed and breakfasts throughout the country of varying quality with varying prices and identical marketing!

Rather than list all the accommodation we use or have used (a never ending task) we have put together a selection of some of our favourites here together with an honest evaluation of their strengths.  There are plenty of directories which present lists upon lists of accommodation - that is not our task.  Our task is to understand our clients to such an extent that we put them together with exactly the right accommodation for every single night of their stay in New Zealand.

Minaret Station

Minaret Station

For a while I was aware of Minaret Station, and wrongly understood it to be a luxury tented camp in the high country near Wanaka.  It was only when I visited the place while assessing it on behalf of Qualmark and Luxury Lodges of New Zealand that I made sense of it. Of course it's a...

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Olivers - Central Otago

Olivers - Central Otago

Olivers was indeed fortunate when bought by David and Andrea Ritchie.  With immense style and no small budget they have brought this iconic historic property not only up to where it was in its heyday, but well past it.  With superb ethics, they have carefully preserved these lovely...

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Solitaire Lodge - Rotorua

Solitaire Lodge - Rotorua

This is now my favourite place in Rotorua.  The original avant-garde design of the lodge has come back into fashion, and, combined with some truly excellent owner-hosting and the beautiful location, I believe Solitaire is well on the road up again.  Much more intimate than the...

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Fiordland Lodge - Te Anau

Fiordland Lodge - Te Anau

The closest lodge to Fiordland, and also to many beautiful southern fly-fishing rivers and lesser walked tracks.  Enjoying a resurgence in popularity under the able management of co-owner Andy Cunningham, this is a delightfully warm place.  What do you want after a day in the mountains...

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Poronui - Taupo

Poronui - Taupo

One of my favourites in the Taupo region and something truly different.  A 16,000 acre property in the mountains on one of the country's top trout rivers.  The fishing is rightly acknowledged as some of the best in the country, and this is the place where Sika Deer were introduced into...

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Annandale - Christchurch

Annandale - Christchurch

Well - thank you Mark Palmer for having this vision and then deciding to share it.  The last photo we have here is of my favourite cottage in the country.  A beautiful historic cottage, impeccably (and I mean impeccably) restored on a promontory on a 4,000 acre coastal estate on...

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Matakauri - Queenstown

Matakauri - Queenstown

I was lucky enough to be hosted a couple of weeks ago at the new Owners Cottage at Matakauri.  Wow!  Superb design which is very pleasing to the eye. (I felt like sitting still in the living room and just appreciating the sheer quality and the genius with which it was put...

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Otahuna - Queenstown

Otahuna - Queenstown

I was away for the last ten days taking a high-profile journalist around the country and exploring some themes in more depth than is usual.  The identity of the journalist and publication has to remain secret for the moment - until the article is published - but some of the places...

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Cape Kidnappers - Hawkes Bay

Cape Kidnappers - Hawkes Bay

The second Robertson lodge has elements we recognise from Kauri Cliffs - architectural elegance, superb cuisine, top-grade trophy land; an even better golf course (often rated the best in the country), and a requirement to wear jackets for dinner. Again, highly recommended if you have the...

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Kauri Cliffs - Northland

Kauri Cliffs - Northland

The first of the Robertson lodges.  A really beautiful location, a superbly designed lodge, impeccable service and food, and with one of the country's finest golf courses.  Situated a little north of the Bay of Islands, the property also has several private beaches and a quality horse...

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