Wild & Wonderful

Breathtaking is a word that’s often overused, yet it becomes the de facto expression when visiting New Zealand. Each new view and each new experience far exceeds the previous. And just when you think you’ve seen it all—including otherworldly fauna and flora and prehistoric landscapes—there’s a new (breathtaking) surprise right around the corner. And this time of year (fall and winter here, spring and summer there), offers a picture-perfect opportunity to see the country at its best.
With its tailored furnishings and welcoming demeanor, the main lodge at Kauri Cliffs affords 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and the Cavalli Islands that dot Matauri Bay. Every suite at the property, housed in cottages, features gas fireplaces and has its own private porch that overlooks the Pacific. Activities range from strolling along one of three beaches to a round (or two) of golf. Fifteen holes view the ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs that plunge to the sea. At the resort’s spa—where guests can choose among treatments such as the waterfall massage or kiwi mud wrap—each treatment room opens onto a private patio. Off property, guests may opt for a guided tour of the famed Ninety Mile Beach or an afternoon of horseback riding along the shore. A private helicopter charter can be arranged to get you from the resort to Auckland (or vice versa) in about an hour (versus about 3 hours and 45 minutes by car).Not only does it save time, but it also offers a birdseye view of New Zealand’s varied topographical charms. Beaches, soaring seaside cliffs, dormant volcanos and islands are all within a stone’s throw of Auckland’s urban skyline.
With its rolling hills, temperate climate and surrounding winemaking region, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers at Hawke’s Bay might feel a bit like California wine country, yet unparalleled ocean views and a one-of-a-kind golf course are a reminder that this couldn’t be anywhere else but New Zealand. With a cluster of buildings that evoke a working farm, the lodge and cottages at Cape Kidnappers marry rustic architecture with stylish interior design. Activities are as varied as the scenery: extensive walking trails, tours of a gannet colony and ATV quad biking are just a few of the ways to discover the 6,000-acre working sheep and cattle farm. Dining in the lodge is an event in itself. More casual at breakfast and lunch, the dinner menu changes nightly and features New Zealand lamb and beef, as well as the finest local produce and seafood. There’s also a small, but bountiful, vegetable garden on the property. Off-site, there are more than 70 wineries; both short excursions and full-day tours can be arranged.
Nestled at the edge of Lake Wakatipu at the base of the Remarkables mountain range, Matakauri Lodge seamlessly blends nature and design. Modern New Zealand cuisine is at home in the lodge amidst contemporary furnishings and large picture windows that frame the jaw-dropping mountain backdrop. The on-site spa offers a number of holistic treatments. Nearby, jet boating into the World Heritage area of Mt. Aspiring National Park with Dart River Jet Safaris offers an only-in-New Zealand experience. Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” can opt for tours to see where parts of the film series were taped. Queenstown, a former mining town, is dubbed the adventure capital of New Zealand. But if paragliding, heli-skiing or bungee jumping seem overly stimulating, trout fishing, horseback riding or winery tours can be arranged as well, and are just as memorable. Also nearby is Arrowtown, an 1800s gold mining community, which has been restored and is home to a number of charming shops and restaurants worth browsing.
kauricliffs.com; capekidnappers.com; matakauri.co.nz