When it comes to boutique accommodation in New Zealand, the Glasshouse at Ara Roa Villa & Boutique Lodgings is one for the bucketlist. This spectacular luxury accommodation, located at the end of a private peninsula in Whangarei Heads, boasts a sanctuary-like bedroom, designer kitchen and a state-of-the-art bathroom that opens up so that you can shower in nature.
Ideal for a couple’s getaway, the Glasshouse is one of six accommodations at Ara Roa, all situated in the private Kauri Mountain Point property. A new sun deck on the north face of the rocks has recently been built, offering panoramic views where you can enjoy yoga or a glass of bubbles in the afternoon.
The property’s second villa, Te Huia, is a fantastic option for those looking for a similar experience at a lower price point. The two-bedroom villa is fitted out to the same standard as the Glasshouse and has its own private bush track to the ocean ridge.
“At the Glasshouse, most guests don’t actually want to leave the property once they have arrived,” says host Susanne Olsen. “But the ones that do will explore the local beaches and the great Whangarei Heads walks. The Whangarei Heads peninsula is currently home to one of 14 top short walks [Mt Manaia Track] in the country and one of the top six day walks [Te Whara/Bream Head].” Olsen continues: “We have created some great inclusive summer packages designed to take the stress off and allow guests to relax without any pressure of having to do anything. The packages include different levels of catering and massage or beauty therapy.”
Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
The unique tree houses at Hapuku Lodge on the Kaikoura coast were built on the idea that if one could live like a bird from the tree tops, they could fully appreciate the beauty of the region. Originally built as a roadside cafe and pub in 2003, Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses is now a premium boutique accommodation in New Zealand, offering lodge suites, the three-bedroom Olive House, and five architecturally designed tree houses.
Embracing the eco-spirit of Kaikoura (a Green Globe certified community) the lodge team has built sustainability into its operations, planting native trees, growing an organic kitchen garden and using reclaimed timber in the construction. The five tree houses, which sit 10-metres high in a Kanuka canopy and range from one to two bedrooms, have recently undergone a makeover, with tile and wood flooring, deep soaking tubs and gas fireplaces, along with a new on-site gym for guests.
The lodge’s restaurant offers fantastic fare, using produce and herbs from the organic garden and sourcing fresh seafood and meat from local fishermen and farmers.As for enjoying Kaikoura, Guest Services Manager Anna King says a trip along the coast is a must. “Take the scenic coastal road from Blenheim to Kaikoura or the stunning Coastal Pacific train. While in Kaikoura, take in the views and spot the seals on a walk around the peninsula, swim with dolphins or whale watch by boat or air.”
The Blackhouse Lodge at Wainui Beach, Tairāwhiti, perfectly captures the laidback lifestyle of a Kiwi bach combined with a boutique accommodation experience. Originally designed by acclaimed architect Andy Coltart as a private retreat in Napier, the stunning house was relocated to Wainui in 2011 and is now run by hosts Charm and Digby Fraser.
Boasting 360-degree views overlooking the Wainui coast and rolling hill country, The Blackhouse can accommodate up to 10 people and has three bedrooms, a welcoming open-plan living area, large fireplace, and modern, industrial-style kitchen. There’s also the option of a private chef.
As a secluded escape on the picturesque Gisborne coast with some of the best views of the region’s famous sunrises, The Blackhouse is a great base for a number of adventures. Gisborne Railbike Adventures offers fun cycling tours over 90 kilometres of scenic coastal railway on specially designed tandem bikes, while the beach offers world-class surfing and fishing. Charm says a day trip to Tolaga Bay Wharf is well worth it. “You can go further up and visit the church [in Tikitiki] and the East Cape lighthouse, picking up a pāua pie at Cafe 35 at Tokomaru Bay on the way.”
Ahu Ahu Beach Villas
It was a holiday in Europe that sparked the idea for David and Nuala Marshall’s Ahu Ahu Beach Villas. Drawn to the free-flowing architecture of Gaudí and decorative elements of Spain’s Alhambra palace, the couple returned to their beachfront property in Taranaki with a vision to merge these architectural inspirations with the quintessential Kiwi bach.
Recycled and locally sourced materials were used in the construction of the award-winning villas, including timber from the property’s cliffside and 13,000 Marseille-style clay roof tiles from the old Stratford Hospital. The villas range from family to studio, each with bathrooms, kitchen and Hundertwasser-inspired bottle windows that add to the artistic charm.
David and Nuala’s son, Seth, says the experience at Ahu Ahu Villas is one of connection with the people and environment of Taranaki: “[It’s] an experience that leaves guests feeling rejuvenated; a time for simplicity whether they are visiting for solitude or with the company of others.”
Taranaki boasts an array of experiences for all kinds of visitors, he adds. “For nature lovers, the National Park surrounding Taranaki Maunga offers great hiking with spectacular views. People who admire the sea will be spoilt in this region. Our Surf Highway 45 offers some of the best waves in Aotearoa, the coastal walkway, which winds along the coast for more than 13 kilometres, is worth a wander and there are a number of sandy beaches to frolic in the breakers or lay down a towel and read your book.” Seth also highlights Puke Ariki, and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len-Lye Centre, for premium cultural experiences, as well as the annual Festival of Lights.
Milford Sound Lodge
Wake up to the soothing sounds of alpine river waters in one of New Zealand’s World Heritage Sites. The Milford Sound Lodge in Fiordland National Park is the only accommodation in Milford Sound and offers 24 luxury chalets with a relaxed atmosphere.
Situated on the edge of the Cleddau River, the Premium Riverside Chalets boast epic views of the misty rainforest and mountain peaks, along with a super king bed, full ensuite and underfloor heating.
The vision behind this boutique accommodation in New Zealand is to provide a sanctuary for guests, with luxury amenities and an opportunity to immerse in the wilderness of the region. “Fiordland National Park is a wild, adventurous and relaxing paradise all in one,” says Milford Sound Lodge’s Haley Kelly. “We are located in one of the most beautiful yet challenging rainforest environments on the planet and we strive to create a level of luxury and hospitality to rival any great hotel experience.”
Guests can enjoy local cuisine from the Pio Pio restaurant and bar, which includes Fiordland wild venison and Marlborough salmon. The team can host activities such as day hikes on the Milford Track, cruises up the fiord and early morning kayak trips through tranquil waters. The lodge has undergone major upgrades in the past decade and has set a number of sustainability goals for the future.
“We became paper-free this year and our goal is to be plastic-free by 2023 and landfill-free by 2025. We are surrounded by nature at its most pure and we are passionate about managing [our] impact,” says Kelly.