Wild and rugged, at once inspiring spontaneous hikes and displaying a spirit of pulse-slowing tranquility, New Zealand’s natural beauty is as sumptuous as its oak-aged wines and as varied as its stylish, cosmopolitan cities.
From grand glaciers to explosive volcanos, there’s a sense of the not-yet-finished to New Zealand’s enchanting lands. A brooding, primeval energy bubbles from geothermal pools, burns in smouldering craters, belches in towering geysers, and permeates the mists of ancient Kauri forests, lending credibility to fantastical Maori legends narrated in wooden marae halls. Across the north and south islands, treasured national parks and reserves hold nature’s finest ecosystems for your discovery. Explore on marauding trans-alpine trains, on thrilling jet-boat safaris or on self-drive adventures along scenic coastal roads, and find gaping fjords, empty palm-fringed beaches and the extensive wine-lands of Marlborough, where the world’s finest sauvignon blanc acquires its unique aromas. Auckland’s sophisticated waterfront creaks and tinkles with swaying yachts, the powerful surf crashing on dramatic black-sand beaches along the coast, while bohemian Wellington has preserved charming Art Deco architecture since Captain Cook first surveyed New Zealand from his eponymous mount.
On the south island, picturesque Queenstown enjoys sweeping views over placid Lake Wakatipu, and old-style Christchurch trams shunt between botanical gardens, street art projects and decidedly European buildings. The vast majority of New Zealand, though, is completely pristine - only luxury lodges and their steaming hillside jacuzzis stand out against awe-inspiring natural vistas. Trek the Tongariro Track over active volcanos and past turquoise lakes; cleanse in the mud spa at Rotorua’s thermal park; land on spectacular Franz Josef glacier with a camera in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other; or hit New Zealand’s waters to spot dusky dolphins, penguins, whales and seals. And a holiday here would be incomplete without joining the indigenous Maori for a delicious hangi feast, complete with jubilant song and powerful dance. From easy-going cities to fierce and barren wilderness, New Zealand truly is a destination for everyone.
Spend your days in pursuit of adventure. From the adrenaline capital of Queenstown quad-bike, mountain bike, paraglide, skydive or bungee jump your way through the countryside before jumping on to a jet boat for a river journey. Take a nail-biting white-water rafting adventure or, on rather calmer waters, practice your fly-fishing on some of the best trout rivers in the world. Helicopter to, then climb on the Franz Josef Glacier and surrounding glaciated mountains. Hit the roads for a remote self-drive journey through the central highlands, staying at sheep stations and enjoying local hospitality. Take in breathtaking views of the mighty Huka Falls by helicopter, before hiking to a sumptuous lunch. Rejuvenate in Taupo, the epicentre of volcanic geothermal activity and hot springs and marvel at the mud pools and geysers around Rotorua that hint at the country’s volcanic past. Discover the Lord of the Rings’ film sets in the company of a fan. Immerse yourself in the empty sounds of the southern fjords far away from the madding crowds on a private yacht or explore Lake Tarawera on a cruise just for you. While sailing among the subtropical paradise Bay of Islands drop anchor alongside a private beach and watch your private chef prepare a mouthwatering feast. Sample a sublime Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc in the Hawke’s Bay or Marlborough region as you make the most of insider access to boutique wine estates where the owners will lead private tasting sessions. Spend time with the Maori and let an elder tell stories while a traditional hangi feast is prepared on your behalf
Spoil yourself with some of the world’s finest lodge accommodation, making the most of properties like Huka Lodge in incredible locations, avant-garde English manors like Black Swan Lakeside Boutique or lake and mountainside retreats with tin tubs for al fresco bathing. Really push the boat out with a break at Minaret Station in one of their amazingly isolated cabins accessible only be helicopter, whose luxury confounds their wild location. Otherwise, in Auckland seek out hip city hideaways such as Hotel DeBrett and in Auckland indulge yourself with a night in a restored nineteenth century villa to offset the nights you’ll spend in an upscale lodge below a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, rustic sheep stations, grown-up treehouses, private island retreats and camps in the Southern wilderness. You might even ask us about how to stay in Bilbo Baggins' hobbit home.
Repeatedly voted New Zealand’s top hotel and one of the finest in the world, this sophisticated lodge has hosted everyone from HM The Queen to Bill Gates and features decadent dining, opulent suites and a host of activities in beautifully manicured gardens.
Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel & Spa
This boutique gem is perched on the shores of Lake Rotorua and its avant-garde English Manor styling extends from the sexy fireplace rooms to the terrace restaurant and superb day spa, Finnish sauna and lush gardens with secret grotto and heated pool.
Helicopter is the only way to access this exhilaratingly brilliant resort set at the head of a glacial valley. Go giddy at the breath-taking sights of the Southern Alps then return to your uber-cool cabin to soak in your deck hot-tub under the stars.
Comprised of just 25 guest rooms and suites, the Hotel DeBrett has been a hip Auckland hideaway for those in the know since 1841. Centrally located in Auckland, guests are a short walk from high-end shopping, cafes and Queen's Wharf – if they can be tempted to leave the charming building.
Lake Tekapo Lodge
Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, this upscale lodge below a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve is an intimate, boutique experience featuring just four sophisticated suites. While the views all around are spectacular, don’t forget to look skywards come nightfall!
970 Lonely Bay
The perfect romantic getaway, this boutique luxury lodge is set in the sublime Coromandel Peninsula. A charming stone and wood villa, 970 Lonely Bay is host to just four elegant suites with spectacular views across the pristine Cooks Beach and Mercury Bay beyond.
Glossy, revamped luxury hotel from InterContinental located right next to the harbour of this fashionable and energetic city. Sleek rooms, excellent leisure facilities and fantastic eateries make this an excellent base from which to explore ‘Wellywood’.
Tin Tub Luxury Lodge
Befitting its namesake, each of the three, superbly appointed Lodge Rooms features a private furnished patio with twin tin tubs for al fresco bathing. Compact and bijou though it may be, there’s nothing half-hearted about this welcoming lake and mountainside retreat.
Set high on the hillside above Owhanake Bay, this luxury boutique hotel is the jewel of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. With Mediterranean influences and designed in the shape of a traditional Maori fish-hook, the property has a distinctive New Zealand flavour.
Hotel St Moritz Queenstown
Charming lakeside hotel that embodies the spirit of its alpine location. With chic interiors, an award-winning restaurant, state-of-the-art gym and sauna not to mention a hot tub garden, the hotel has all you need to unwind after a day exploring the great outdoors.
Seductive lodge with breath-taking alpine and lake vistas in a magnificent setting in which the service shines as brightly as the beautiful surroundings. Gorgeous, interior designed rooms and suites paired with fine dining make this a remarkable retreat.
Acacia Cliffs Lodge
A contemporary retreat set in two hectares of landscaped grounds on Lake Taupo. Experience genuine NZ hospitality in this superb setting, with cleverly designed angles and huge windows that capitalise on the spectacular panoramic lake and mountain vistas.
The Manse Hawkes Bay
Exclusive luxury lodge in the country’s oldest wine region. Catering for just four adult guests at a time, you can be sure of bespoke, attentive service at this gentleman’s farm dating back to 1910, with elegant suites and a gorgeous pool and verandah.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
Luxury lodging set on 6,000 acres of rolling countryside in picturesque Hawkes Bay affording truly spectacular Pacific views. The resort has 22 exceptional suites and a dazzling Owner’s Cottage and is home to a championship golf course and valley-top spa.
Te Waonui Forest Retreat
An innovative and exclusive eco-retreat in the forest blessed with a full-service spa. Close your eyes and its sleek lines may fool you into thinking you were in the centre of the city, but open your eyes and ears and you’ll know you’re a world away.
Award-winning cuisine and just four superb suites housed in the original farm buildings of this early 20th century lodge make for an unforgettable stay in the historic surroundings of Waipoua Forest, where the iconic Kauri trees have stood for over 3,000 years.
With a one-to-one staff to guest ratio, guests here can expect impeccable service and unwavering attention to detail. Featuring 53 chic guest rooms and suites that ooze sophistication, this boutique property is also home to two award-winning restaurants.
Victorian elegance meets modern day luxury in an iconic lodge that combines the best of old world service and charm with the sophisticated pleasures of today. Fine food and wines are served to revive guests after indulging in the many activities on offer.
The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs
This designer lodge with breath-taking views of the Bay of Islands is an uber-stylish retreat in an unparalleled location. Host to superb facilities including a top-ranking golf course, spa and glorious infinity swimming pool, this luxury escape is hard to beat.
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Enjoy five-star luxury at this effortlessly chic property on Auckland’s sparkling Waitemata Harbour. Home to an indulgent spa, designer rooms and amber marble restaurant, the hotel is the epitome of understated elegance in a glamorous harbour-side setting.
Hulbert House, Queenstown
A beautifully restored 19th century villa, Hulbert House is just a stroll from central Queenstown. Charming, sophisticated and cosseting, it’s a fine place to start a holiday in New Zealand.
The Kinloch Club, Taupo
Lying pretty on the shores of Lake Taupo, Kinloch is delightfully luxurious. Sweeping views take in the lake, the lodge’s own golf course, and plenty of peace and quiet.
Marino Ridge, Waiheke Island
Built into a ridge overlooking the Waiheke Island coast, this ultra-exclusive bolthole is simply stunning. Marino in Maori means tranquil, and this place is certainly that.
New Zealand is at its very best in the summer from December to February, but there are also exceptional adventures to be had during winter when the alps are covered in snow and you can experience the wilderness in a different way before heading to the beach retreats of the South Pacific. And, for those that choose the months in between, there's still some superb weather to enjoy coupled with fewer crowds. If you do choose to travel in the peak months, especially over Christmas and New Year, it's important to book early with luxury lodges in particular filling up several months in advance.
Highlights of the South Island
13 days from £3,980 pp incl. flights
The beauty of New Zealand's South Island is in its natural landscapes and outdoor activities – discover them all with a range of curated excursions, from whale-watching tours and overnight fjord cruises to glacial heli-hikes and mountain rail journeys.
Highlights of the North Island
15 days from £4,375 pp incl. flights
Experience the best of the North Island, searching for kiwis in kauri forests, swimming with dolphins in the Bay of Islands and enjoying Maori feasts amidst Rotorua’s geothermal beauty. Known for a volcanic landscape and glittering cities, the North Island makes for a classic New Zealand adventure.
Luxury Lodges of New Zealand
21 days from £8,380 pp incl. flights
Stay in some of New Zealand’s finest accommodation as spectacular drives link together the highlights of both its North and South island.