Consistently ranked as New Zealand’s best hotel and among the finest in the world, this elegant Relais & Châteaux lodge rests on the hypnotic blue-green waters of Waikato River, just upstream from the magnificent Huka Falls and is spread over 17 acres of carefully manicured grounds that have earned the ‘Garden of National Significance’ rank by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. The luxurious retreat is an easy, scenic 3½ hour drive or a 45 minute domestic flight from Aukland. Since its humble beginnings as a 1920s trout fishing spot, its New England-inspired timber panelled suites and cottages have accommodated everyone from HM Queen Elizabeth to a certain William Gates. And, with opulent riverside suites host to feather pillows, deep baths and wooden terraces that jut out onto the water, it’s no surprise. The Lodge Suites offer more space, including a lounge and dining area with homely fireplace but for a truly extravagant stay book into either the Owner’s or Alan Pye Cottage, lavish residences situated on elevated promontories. The dining is equally indulgent, headed by an executive chef who’s cooked to the highest level of Michelin stars in kitchens across the world. Once you’ve enjoyed the range of activities – there’s everything from scenic flights and horse rides to hiking trails and boat cruises – return to in-room massages, croquet, tennis, poolside relaxation and afternoons spent fly fishing.