The Best Luxury Accommodations
Kauri Cliffs (Kerikeri; tel. 09/407-0010)
I could find no fault whatsoever with this sublime northern retreat. It is, as the saying goes, "heaven on a stick," and I'm not even a golfer! The staff here are some of the friendliest in the country and the rooms -- especially the bathrooms -- are my idea of true luxury.
Eagles Nest (Russell; tel. 09/403-8333)
Combine the very best of international taste with the magic of Northland's subtropical environment and a rich vein of natural energy, and you get a luxury retreat quite unlike any other in New Zealand. Daniel and Sandie Biskind have created a world-class retreat worthy of anyone's prolonged attention.
Huka Lodge (Taupo; tel. 07/378-5791)
Exclusivity reigns supreme at this Small Luxury Hotels of the World member. International awards bounce off the walls, and guests invariably comment on rooms fit for kings. It has a supreme location beside the Waikato River just above the Huka Falls and a reputation for quality and service that seems impossible to shake.
Treetops Lodge & Estate (Rotorua; tel. 07/333-2066)
My expectations may never be the same again after staying at Treetops. Being spoiled with one of the most gorgeous suites in the country tends to have that effect. Set in a unique native bush environment, it's a true sanctuary that will lower your heart rate within minutes of arriving.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers (Hawke's Bay; tel. 06/875-1900)
Like its big sister, Kauri Cliffs, this stay richly deserves all the superlatives. It's a case of "your wish is our command" here and if you're a golfer, you'll love what is rated the 10th best course in the world outside the U.S. The cliff-edge, rural setting is to die for.
Eichardt's Private Hotel (Queenstown; tel. 03/441-0450)
This new Small Luxury Hotels of the World member has received glowing accolades in Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, and it's becoming the hotel of choice for discerning, upscale travelers. In a remodeled historic building in central Queenstown, it oozes first-class style and understated glamour. It remains one of my favorites.
Blanket Bay (Queenstown; tel. 03/442-9442)
If you want luxury on a grand scale in a majestic setting to match, look no further than Blanket Bay. These gorgeous stone buildings marry so completely with the awesome landscape, it seems as if they were always here. Inside, you'll find an outstanding level of service and comfort. What more could you want?
The Best Boutique Hotels & Small Lodges
Te Whau Lodge (Waiheke Island; tel. 09/372-2288)
Every time I visit Te Whau I'm convinced all over again that Gene O'Neill and Liz Eglinton give you the best of everything -- winning personalities, fabulous food, great rooms, and views you won't believe. There's something quintessentially Kiwi about the whole experience that I'm proud to recommend.
Ridge Country Retreat (Tauranga; tel. 07/542-1301)
The generosity and style of rooms here leave many more expensive stays in the shade. Joanne O'Keeffe and Penny Oxnam were some of the best (and funniest) hosts on my last road trip, and I'm confident your expectations will be exceeded at every level. The food is divine!
Millar Road (Hastings; tel. 06/875-1977)
Waking up to staggering views over vineyards, orchards, and rolling green hills is only part of the pleasure of this exquisite stay. Somewhere between lodge and B&B, these two modern, self-contained "cottages" are divine. I can't get the memory of them out of my head. It's a classy, unexpected gem filled with contemporary New Zealand art, and I know you'll want to stay at least a week!
Ohtel (Wellington; tel. 04/803-0600)
I couldn't believe my luck when I found this small, chic, ecofriendly, waterfront hotel packed to the gills with collectible mid-century modern furniture. It's an unbeatable value, a total sensory experience, and one of my top picks for something unique and memorable.
Arrowtown House (Arrowtown; tel. 03/441-6008)
This brand-new boutique hotel is the third brainchild of seasoned travelers and hosts alike, Steve and Jeanette Brough, who are two of the best hosts in the country. Located in a pretty, tree-lined residential street, it's an understated haven within a short walk of the village.
River Birches (Turangi; tel. 0800/102-025)
This is one of my favorite new discoveries. Transplanted New Yorker Jason Bleibtreu and his wife Rebecca -- both former journalists covering the world's hot spots -- have spent years living in hotels, so they know exactly what it takes to create a restful haven. They've imbued this special place with an extra level of professionalism that's hard to fault. And the location? Right beside one of the best trout-fishing rivers in the world!
Remarkables Lodge (Queenstown; tel. 03/442-2720)
Brian Savage and Colleen Ryan sailed the world for 10 years chartering their yacht. We can be thankful they came ashore in Queenstown and took this well-established lodge and shook it by the scruff of the neck. With new life and an understated level of class that puts it above many, it's a top retreat tucked into the foot of the very remarkable Remarkables mountains.
Travel page content provided by Zagat © 2013, Google.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.