With global roaming deemed improbable for the next year (sob sob), the Australia-New Zealand travel corridor is looking even more appealing. Herewith: an edit of 21 hotels, holiday homes and high-end huts to check into. They’re organised from splurges and splash-outs to more modest, purse-friendly stays – so if you’re put off by the extravagant escapes up top, keep on scrolling. That said, the joy of a trip to New Zealand is that airfares are a fraction of what you’d pay to get to Europe or America, and the country boasts some of the world’s most luxurious lodges nestled amongst some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery, making it the dream destination for a honeymoon or milestone birthday. But whether you go big or small, there’s a common denominator in this list – wow-factor in the wilderness.
What: A rustic-luxe villa for 14 sandwiched between rolling hills and a private, pebble-strewn beach.
Where: On the wind-swept coastline of Pigeon Bay, about an hour’s drive from Christchurch airport (you can arrive by chopper, too).
Why: The bungalow walks the line between rural homestay and seriously haute property. It caters to a crowd, and is tailor-made for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday or celebration.
How much: From approximately $7000AU/night (that’s 500AU/night per person!)
What: A plush and private holiday home – one of four residencies dotted on The Landing.
Where: Sitting on the water’s edge at Wairoa Bay, it’s 18km from Bay of Islands airport (on the North Island).
Why: It’s a mecca for the A-list. Barack Obama stayed in one of The Landing residencies and described it as “magical” in the guestbook. Perhaps he enjoyed the property’s endless outdoor pursuits: hiking, mountaing biking, snorkelling and yachting.
How much: From approximately $6960AU/night.
What: A slick, glass-fronted couple’s retreat with jaw-dropping views.
Where: On the same working farm as Scrubby Bay (see point 1), but the property is a sprawling 4000 acres, so you’d never know.
Why: For the balcony hot tub looking over the Pacific Ocean – keep an eye out for dolphins and fur seals.
How much: From approximately $3513AU/night.
What: A collection of five modern and minimalist villas that wouldn’t be out of place in the hills of Ibiza.
Where: On the Bay of Islands (Te Tai Tokerau) in New Zealand’s sub-tropical far north.
Why: To lounge on the white daybeds and go for a spin in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo (included on loan with your booking).
How much: From approximately $2784AU/night.
What: A high-end hotel dotted with cosy-cool cabins.
Where: Hovering over Lake Taupo on the North Island.
Why: For the five-star spa, world-class golf course and ‘estate-to-plate’ food philosophy.
How much: From approximately $1772AU/night.
What: A luxury, off-grid lodge accompanied by sumptuous, self-contained pods (pictured below).
Where: In the rugged folds of Ahuriri Valley, the heart of the South Island.
Why: This stay offers up adventure – helicopters, heli-skiing and horse-riding – and rejuvenation – massages and chef-prepared picnics – alike.
How much: Stay in a pod from approximately $1715AU/night ($1850NZ).
What: A dreamy alpine-meets-lakeside estate with 12 luxurious suites.
Where: On the shores of Lake Wakatipu, just seven minutes’ drive from Queenstown.
Why: For the chic interiors and crackling log fires – it’s the perfect place to retreat to after a day on the slopes or the lake. Oh, and for the inclusive daily cocktail hour.
How much: From approximately $1580/night.
What: An old-world hotel and spa with just the right amount of grandeur. Also, it sits on a working sheep and cattle farm, and what could be more quintessentially Kiwi than that?
Where: On a 5000-acre estate in Wairapa, not far from Wellington – 90 minutes by car or 15 minutes by helicopter.
Why: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent a night at the rural resort in 2014.
How much: From approximately $1548AU/night.
What: Another pastoral paradise, formerly a 20th-century convent.
Where: In NZ’s famed Marlborough wine region on the South Island (and yes, the property is nestled amongst lush vineyards).
Why: Arriving at the charming weatherboard estate is like stepping into a storybook or period romance.
How much: From approximately $1485AU/night.
What: A new and remote oasis for up to four people, hidden high above the clouds. Heaven on earth.
Where: The completely converted shepherd’s hut overlooks coastal farmland in Conway Flat, on New Zealand’s South Island.
Why: To soak under the stars on a mountaintop, then indulge in gourmet food deliveries.
How much: From $1390AU/night ($1500NZ); or for a limited time, $1855/two nights ($2000NZ, save $1000NZ). The property will close between June and August for maintenance.
What: A canopy of five glorious treehouses, along with five separate lodges.
Where: The property is set on a deer farm on the South Island, 12 kilometres north of the eco-marine town of Kaikoura (a popular whale-watching spot).
Why: The property is the definition of eco-luxe: it runs on solar power and sources produce from local farmers.
How much: From approximately $923AU/night.
What: A legendary New Zealand hotel dating back to 1866; while the accommodation has been revamped and renovated over the years, the classic glamour remains a permanent fixture.
Where: In prime position on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.
Why: It’s been crowned World’s Best Ski Resort Hotel numerous times, perhaps for its serene spa sanctuary and après-ski scene.
How much: From approximately $812AU/night.
What: This renowned restaurant and vineyard boasts gorgeous farmhouse-style cottages and a lodge on-site.
Where: On Waiheke Island, with panoramic views across Auckland harbour.
Why: With its traditional potager gardens, old-meets-new interiors and wine – lots of wine – this property is NZ’s own little piece of Provence.
How much: From approximately $696AU/night.
What: A striking glass studio in the middle of nowhere…
Where: Well not exactly nowhere, but secluded on the slopes of the Ben Ohau Range inside the Aoraki International Dark Skies Reserve on the South Island.
Why: Two words: glass roof. Star-gazing takes on new meaning in this one-of-a-kind stay.
How much: Approximately $556AU/night ($600NZ).
What: Six glorious glass cabins; call it the new glamping!
Where: Choose from six pods scattered around New Zealand, each with an equally blissful backdrop.
Why: To unplug, recharge and reconnect with nature. The pods are solar powered – but don’t expect a wifi network. Instead, they’re stocked with books, games and telescopes.
How much: Approximately $548AU/night ($590NZ).
What: A supremely stylish, Scandi-cool studio.
Where: On Waiheke Island, a beachy, boho getaway accessible via a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland.
Why: It’s rare to find accommodation this chic in this price bracket. The owners have created two near-identical studios, so if you’re travelling in a group, nab them both.
How much: From approximately $378AU/night ($407NZ).
What: A lust-worthy lodge for six.
Where: In Raurimu on the Central Plateau (North Island).
Why: It’s the epitome of a cosy winter retreat, decked out in leather, grainy timber and fur.
How much: From approximately $305AU/night ($330NZ).
What: A dazzling boutique hotel that blends pop art with Art Deco.
Where: In the heart of Auckland’s shopping district, ideal for a city staycation or weekender.
Why: The swirly coloured staircase seems custom-made for Instagram.
How much: From approximately $213AU/night ($230NZ).
What: A humble but heavenly little cabin – solar powered and surrounded by wilderness.
Where: On Pepin Island, a pristine privately owned parcel of land in the centre of New Zealand.
Why: The island itself was listed for sale in 2018 – with a cool asking price of $16NZ million – which makes staying there for a steal even more inviting.
How much: From approximately $176AU/night.
What: A three-storey lighthouse perched on precious oceanfront real estate.
Where: Fifteen minutes from the city centre of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital.
Why: For the unobscured views and sense of whimsy and magic.
How much: From approximately $173AU/night.
What: A petite but pretty caravan in the countryside.
Where: In Otago, the south-eastern region of the South Island.
Why: To check out the arresting turquoise Clutha River.
How much: From approximately $140AU/night.
Given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic and sporadic border closures, we suggest booking flexible fares and looking for accommodation with good cancellation policies.