The tip of luxury
Take in culture and natural beauty in the top of New Zealand's North Island on this suggested seven-day luxury itinerary.
By Katrina Holden
Fly into Auckland and transfer to the beautiful Bay of Islands via either a 50-minute commercial regional flight with Air New Zealand to Kerikeri; or a charter helicopter transfer from Auckland airport. Head straight to The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs where you’ll feel transformed to another world with sprawling green hills, manuka trees, cows munching peacefully in the fields and quaint townships fringing deep blue and green coves and bays.
After a leisurely breakfast, head to the golf course. Whether you’re a golf pro or an amateur, all levels are welcome. You can transfer around the Par 72 championship course on the Kauri Cliff buggies, where 15 holes overlook the Pacific Ocean and Cape Brett and Cavalli Islands forming spectacular backdrops. If golf doesn’t excite, head to the spa where an entry path through a forest sets the mood for complete relaxation. A dip in the lodge’s infinity pool overlooking the bays is a must, or you might prefer to go quad biking or horse riding, or have a picnic arranged for you at nearby Pink Beach. Dining at this Relais & Chateaux lodge is a highlight with fine cuisine and a New Zealand-focussed wine list.
After a morning departure from Kauri Cliffs, head via helicopter with Salt Air to Tane Mahuta – a Kauri tree that has been standing for over 2,000 years in the Waipoua Forest. The tree stands 51 metres from the ground to the tip and is 13 metres in circumference. It’s the largest Kauri tree in New Zealand and possibly the world. The beautifully scenic flight sweeps over green valleys with vegetation so dense they resemble from the air tight florets of broccoli. Your helicopter will drop you off at The Landing – a 1,000-acre farm made up of four architectural residences available for private hire.
Stay: The Landing
At The Landing, you can choose to do as little or as much as you like. Staff will arrange tours of the property’s own vineyards and tastings in the tower and state-of-the-art cellar of their award winning wines, known particularly for their award-winning chardonnay. A drive around the property might also see you taking in the extensive kitchen garden and orchards with their own carrots, kumara, olive trees, mandarins, Vietnamese mint, eggs from chickens, raspberries and strawberries. Close to the bay, you can pick figs from 150-year-old fig trees. The landscaping is outstanding with over four million plants cultivated across the property. You may choose to simply stay put in your residence, either by the bay or high on the hill, making the most of these architect-designed and luxury escapes that completely incorporate their natural surroundings. The Landing staff can arrange kayaking trips to local coves, fishing from the wharf and meals prepared for you and your companions in your lodge by the property’s resident chef.
Stay: The Landing
Set sail from The Landing onboard local charter boat Cool Change, running small-group charters for groups of 1-40 guests around the Bay of Islands with friendly hosts Don and Marilyn Logan. Usually six hours in duration, Cool Change will sail you past beautiful rock formations and spotting local wildlife including penguins and schools of dolphins. A gourmet lunch will be provided as well as opportunities for kayaking or swimming in remote and private beaches. After exploring the Bay of Islands with Cool Change, arrange for Don and Marilyn to drop you in the quaint township of Russell to transfer to your luxury accommodation, Eagle’s Nest, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Stay: Eagles Nest
Today, your hosts at Eagles Nest can arrange a Salt Air helicopter transfer to the newly built landing pad atop the majestic Hole in the Rock (Motu Kōkako Island) at the end of the Cape Brett Peninsula. Your Maori guide will explain the significance of this rock formation and you might even meet a gecko or two at the peak. For lunch, you can wander to the famous Duke of Marlborough Hotel on the waterfront in Russell, founded in 1827. You may wish to just kick back in the best villa at Eagles Nest – the Rahimoana Villa that has sleek white, rock-star interiors and 300-degree ocean views from its 25-metre infinity pool and adjoining Jacuzzi. Spend your final night in New Zealand sipping on champagne and allowing the Eagles Nest chefs to prepare you a four-course gourmet meal.
Stay: Eagles Nest
Enjoy one last breakfast taking in the magical views of the Bay of Islands before transferring either via helicopter or domestic flight to Auckland airport.
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Weather to go
High season is during summer, from December to February, with temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees celsius, and the UV rays are strong - best to pack sunscreen if you’re travelling there in summer.
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