Six of the best: New Zealand lodges

HUKA LODGE, TAUPO

The highly atmospheric stalwart of New Zealand's lodge scene was opened in 1920, and takes full advantage of its position on the Waikato River next to the thundering Huka Falls. Lavish five-course dinners are par for the course, but can be served in romantic private dining locations such as the intimate, arch-vaulted wine cellar. Tennis, petanque and croquet courts are in keeping with the old-world elegance, and the gardens are so impressive they have National Significance status. The truly cashed-up can arrive in style, landing at the property's helipad. Doubles cost from $NZ1828 ($1700).

See hukalodge.co.nz.

KAIMATA RETREAT, OTAGO PENINSULA

The feeling of remoteness, looking out over an inlet where seabirds swoop and squawk, is quite special. Taking the stand-up paddle boards out for a pootle round the sandbars, while sea lions from the neighbouring colony look on in curiosity isn't half bad either. Constructed by the owners from native timbers, there are just three rooms – but they share a heart-melting terrace looking out to sea. In the evening, there's a feeling of having a private chef come into a home kitchen, as three-course meals are rustled up in the intimate, open fire-centred lounge. Rooms cost from $NZ525 ($490).

See kaimatanz.com

EAGLE'S NEST, BAY OF ISLANDS

There is a sense of exclusivity in this collection of five villas – all different sizes in order to accommodate both couples and family groups – overlooking the Bay of Islands. There's a chilled bottle of champagne on arrival, while a new fresh fruit platter appears every day. Glass walls take full advantage of the setting, while private pools and Jacuzzis invite lazy time-sapping soaks. There's an on-site personal trainer for those who prefer to get fit, and you've a choice of on your villa terrace or a secluded beach for your morning private yoga session. Villas cost from $NZ1295 ($1210)

See eaglesnest.co.nz

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KAURI CLIFFS, NORTHLAND

The golf is the initial drawcard at this 2428-hectare property near the country's northern tip. The championship-level, cliff-top course comes with jealousy-inspiring ocean views.

But then the views from the 55-square-metre suites aren't too shabby either – and if you get bored of them, there's no shortage of other things to try. These included the highly regarded spa and three beaches that are essentially private. Adventures can include horse riding, mountain biking, taking a farm tour around the property and hunting possums at night. Suites cost from $NZ1782.50 ($1600).

See kauricliffs.com

OTAHUNA LODGE, CHRISTCHURCH

Surrounded by farms and vineyards, but just a half-hour drive from Christchurch Airport, Otahuna Lodge has the feel of an English country estate. A Victorian mansion formerly belonging to politician, lawyer and horticulturalist Sir Heaton Rhodes, there's a time-warp genteelness to the place. Roaring fireplaces and extensive wood panelling are topped off with a grand piano in the drawing room that once toured the world in a royal yacht. The spacious suites have a relaxed sophistication about them, and the sprawling gardens are a delight to get lost in. Suites cost from $NZ1200 ($1120).

MATAKAURI LODGE, QUEENSTOWN

Just seven kilometres out of central Queenstown, it's tempting to spend the entire stay at Matakauri Lodge gawping at the snow-topped Remarkables mountain range on the other side of Lake Wakatipu. The fitness centre, infinity pool and outdoor fireplace are all perfectly positioned for those postcard shots. Should you wish to explore the great outdoors further, the staff will happily rustle up a posh packed lunch, while the pre-dinner drinks session is designed for guests to get acquainted. Big windows make for bright rooms and all of them come with massive oversized bathtubs and private porches. Rooms in the main lodge cost from $NZ1368.50 ($1280)

See matakaurilodge.com

The writer was a guest of Tourism New Zealand

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