The Land of the Long White Cloud is colorful indeed, especially when you consider New Zealand has more species of ferns, flightless birds and baying sheep per square mile than most cities have people. So it’s not surprising that many resorts on these north-south isles will encompass views that barely contain roads or cars, much less humans.
Getting away from it all is what New Zealand offers, even if that means escapes to Middle Earth or the lands of Aslan. Some 15 hours flight from the U.S., arrival happens in what seems to be a parallel universe but the differences pop out amid colossal Kauri trees as old as the Bible and volcanic lakes that boil and blow – as if viewing the world from inside a time traveler’s mirror.
In real terms, a visitor can rent a car and self-drive to such places as 90-Mile Beach, Bay of Islands, Rotorua, the Remarkables and Franz Josef Glacier. New Zealand is roughly 1,550 miles north to south on two great swaths of land managed by an excellent road system and plenty of easy transport options that do not require the extra expense of a tour company or inbound assistance to arrange.
At Kurtz-Ahlers, a boutique collection of some of the world’s finest independent properties that are known for the rare settings they present, New Zealand is seen as nature at its purest. New Zealand is nature left to do what it does as humans stay on the sidelines and watch the marvels unfold. The Kurtz-Ahlers collection offers three places where luxurious accommodations, fine dining and pampering all play a part in perfecting the best ways to take in this unyielding performance at close range.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers on the North Island, an easy six-hour drive from Auckland (although private flights and heli-transfers are at the ready), overlooks Hawkes Bay with 180-degree views of the roiling South Pacific. It’s all about the
land here, 6,000 undulating acres of it on a working New Zealand sheep farm that supports an award-winning wine cellar along with gourmet dining, spa (ever had a jade and crystal facial?) and golf (par 71 and considered #27 on Golf Magazine’s “Best” list) on a seemingly endless spread. But this farm is a Relais & Chateaux presentation that combines the rustic and the modern, the craggy and the comfortable, the wide spaces and the 22 cozy cottages along rocky cliffs overlooking relentless waves. Check out the four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage, a world unto itself.
Tel: +011 64 6 875 1900
Lodge at Kauri Cliffs
Sister property at the Bay of Islands, less than four hours drive from Auckland with air options cutting that time down to one hour, the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs presents a lush setting with astounding pans of the Pacific and its islands off the coast.
Find more than 6,000 acres of prime New Zealand landscapes to wander within an environment that easily compares to Bali. Another property by Relais & Chateaux, a stay at Kauri Cliffs can be an active experience of biking, bushwalking, beach combing, golf and tennis. Day tours to nature reserves near and far come as options on a daily activities menu, as do swimming in the ocean, sunning by the pool and having old-fashioned picnics amid a wonderland of magical scenery.
Find 22 guest suites (plus the two-bedroom Owner’s Suite), each with its own private porch, bedroom with sitting area and open fireplace, abutting a native forest and overlooking the golf course and the Pacific.
Tel: +011 64 9 407 0010
Ah, but sweet stays here come in “threes.” Rounding this triple play is Matakauri Lodge on New Zealand’s south island just minutes from downtown Queenstown on stunning Lake Wakatipu. While this area along the Remarkables and Walter and Cecil Peaks is considered the New Zealand capital of adventure travel with its abundance of bungee jump-off spots, hiking trails, mountain biking tours, jet boating, paragliding, and river runs, the Lodge lasers in on the scenery as a modern oasis of calm.
Unlike its more traditional sisters, Matakauri’s design and layout makes a statement. The Lodge is an art piece carefully crafted by celebrated New Zealand Designer Virginia Fisher. Lines are clean, light is given a stage and each of the Lodge’s eleven cottage suites is a testament to the blending of high style with comfort, convenience and the complete agreement between the elements — inside and out. The scenery is the star here and the riveting interiors only serve to give natural New Zealand her close-up.
Dining means fine New Zealand wines and menus that change daily with the weather and the word about what’s fresh. Unlike other parts of the country, town and what comes with civilization is an easy walk away. And getting away from it all is just as simple, whether that means water, peaks or a forest of virgin pines.
Tel: +011 64 3 441 1008
The Ultimate New Zealand Package
What’s the Ultimate New Zealand Deal? A nine-night package that includes three nights at each resort: The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, and Matakauri Lodge. Three fabulous lodges, three spectacular settings, and nine glorious nights adding up to a savings of roughly NZ$1,695 (around $1,300 USD) per couple.