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NATURE LIKE NONE OTHER
Two elongated islands alone in the far southern realms of the Pacific, separated from Australia by a vast stretch of ocean: New Zealand is one of the last corners of the world to be inhabited by man. The Maori call it Aotearoa, the “long white cloud,” like the velvety canopy suspended over the crystalline waters of Matauri Bay on the North Island. This is where, in about the 11th century, the first Polynesians arrived after crossing miles of ocean in dugout canoes. Six centuries later, Europeans began exploring this untamed land covered with forests, where they discovered flora and fauna unlike anything they had ever seen. The kauris, New Zealand’s giant conifers, can live for up to 2,000 years, growing as high as 50 meters (165 feet) and as large as several meters in diameter. It is not surprising that the Maori made this species their sacred tree. New Zealanders are collectively nicknamed “kiwis” after the country’s famous bird, with its long beak, brownish feathers… and inability to fy. Those who have the patience, and can remain perfectly silent, can watch them on moonlit nights, prowling the edges of the forests.
Nature’s presence is so imposing here, it is easy to think that much of the land is still virgin territory. The North Island seems to be simmering, spouting fumes from countless geysers, hot springs and bubbling mud pits. At the foot of the snow-capped volcanoes, Lake Taupo fills an ancient crater. From the marina in Auckland, the sailboats cast off all year long, to glide through a magnificent seascape dotted with dormant volcanic islands. While the locals feel at home in the wide open spaces, they have also tamed huge swathes of the countryside. Grapevines have been planted right up to the white cliffs of Hawke’s Bay, producing sauvignon wines with a floral nose of freshly-cut grass and fruits. On the South Island, the slopes around the mountain chain dubbed the “Alps of the South” are better suited for bringing out the delicate aromas of pinot noir. On the west coast, the peaks transform into a grandiose but forbidding landscape of fjords, glaciers and high-altitude lakes. Nourishing immense herds of merino sheep, the pastures recall those of Scotland, while in the region around Christchurch the green hills resemble the English countryside. The city has a passion for plants, and charms the visitor with its rose-scented parks. The atmosphere is rather British, a character reflected as well in New Zealand’s devotion to cricket and rugby. But with the Haka, the Maori war dance that opens their matches, the All Blacks unite the entire population in spirit.
Hotel and restaurant in a park. On the banks of the Waikato River, located just upstream from the mighty Huka Falls, Huka Lodge is a place of unrivalled beauty. It enjoys a gentle climate, a leisurely pace and a spectacular landscape of snow-capped volcanic mountain peaks, wild tussock, lush wilderness and clear blue lakes and streams. Founded in the 1920s, Huka Lodge has become one of New Zealand’s most iconic retreats, with extraordinary hospitality. Guests can enjoy an array of unique packages offering exceptional experiences for couples, families and friends, seeking a truly memorable time together. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Set on 6,000 acres near Matauri Bay, Northland, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs offers spectacular 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean, and overlooks a championship golf course. The beautiful panoramic view encompasses Cape Brett, and the Cavalli Islands. This splendid plantation lodge has a spacious living room, two private day rooms and a beautiful dining room with outdoor decks overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The magnificent spa facility is located in a native Totara forest, while the cottages are nestled on the edge of the forest and have been designed to offer the same stunning vista as the veranda of the main lodge. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on a lake. On splendid, mysterious Lake Wakatipu, the cradle of ancient Maori legends and one of the most serene landscapes in the world, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views of the mountain ranges. Each of the beautiful suites has a private porch, bedroom with sitting area and open fireplace, a walk-in wardrobe and bathroom. Eight of them are outlying, the three other are housed in the main lodge, which also boasts a spacious lounge, dining and living areas with views of the lake. A magnificent spa with pool, sauna and fitness centre all combine to make this the ideal retreat, just seven minutes from Queenstown. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. At the heart of a 19th century Victorian estate, Otahuna Lodge seamlessly knits past and present together: period woodwork, stained glass windows and fifteen working fireplaces combine with a host of modern comforts and a rich collection of contemporary New Zealand art. Outside, Otahuna, which is Maori for little hill among the hills, has striking views over the Canterbury Plains and the Banks Peninsula. The song of native bellbirds invites guests to discover hidden glades, ponds and more than 120 different kinds of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms in the historic gardens. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on a golf course. This lodge is a golfer’s paradise but it also has a whole lot more to offer. The golf course meandering along the top of the green cliffs is just one of the many reasons to stay here. Nestled in a great wine region, it is an ideal base from which to discover the surrounding estates and find out more about the country’s wines. Some visitors may have the moving experience of getting up close and personal with the endangered Kiwi bird. Rafting and fishing in the rushing torrents, galloping along the immense beaches on horseback, relaxing in the spa, and embarking on helicopter and hot air balloon rides are just some of the many pleasurable ways to spend the days here. ... Learn moreless