This was the luxury journey to end all luxury trips: staying at at
four of the best resorts in New Zealand – three of them judged among
the best hideaway spots in the world.
The assignment: Six days and seven nights to enjoy Matakauri Lodge, Blanket Bay, Eichardt's Private Hotel and Millbrook Resort in and around Queenstown.
My wife Chrissy and I land at the Adventure Capital of the World at
5:00pm and throw ourselves at the mercy of the warm and sincere staff
at Matakauri Lodge – one of the Top 101 Hotels of the World according to Tatler magazine.
General manager Grant Alley and his staff were first rate. The view
from our villa bed was extraordinary, from the comfortable living room
area to the bath and the bedroom we could not miss the incredible
panoramic majesty. All the rooms have amazing lake mountain views and
it feels so remote, but it's only a brief drive into Queenstown. You
will leave Matakauri in awe because of service, location, luxury and
Next day we go on a romantic cruise to Walter Peak on the 96-year old
ferry the Earnslaw, known as the Lady of the Lake. In the afternoon
it's a helicopter ride around the glaciers and dazzling white mountain
tops, with Heliworks.
Our pilot Steve Scott is a fantastic guy. Heliworks has been involved
in filming Peter Jackson's movies. Another of their pilots Alfie
Speight is big in the Kiwi film industry.
We get back to our sanctuary at Matakauri, among the 'tui' -- the
native frogs and lakeside setting. The next morning we trundle around
the lake to Blanket Bay, twice rated by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report as one of the most romantic hideaways in the world.
Blanket Bay is a place every couple who can save $1500 once in their
life should go and spend a night. It is the grandest lodge ever. We
loved the heavily texture wood, massive gray weathered supports and
fine furniture pieces with burnished rich patina. Philip Jenkins is a
brilliant general manager with a superb dry wit. The local staff were
excellent. Unlike some lodges, Philip insisted there was no dress code.
Their games' room was a blokesy den with a free bar. Before tea, we did
a 30 minute jog through the bush and then around the shore edge of the
lake back to the hotel. Like running in paradise. Our seared grouper
meal and Amisfield pinot noir made us feel even better.
Next day we drive back to Queenstown, where we spend the night at Eichardt's Private Hotel
– judged the best small hotel in the world three or four years ago. Our
suite, room No.2, is possibly the best appointed we have ever stayed
in. Victoria, Charlotte, Catherine and all the Eichardt's staff could
not be more caring and helpful. The massive possum fur rug on our bed
was an utterly romantic touch. Their service is second to none. They
became like friends.
We go out for dinner on the Steamer Wharf at the Wai, Waterfront Restaurant,
which according to the Cafe magazine is one of the best restaurants in
New Zealand. We can see why! We melted on the line-caught grouper –
flown in especially for Wai from Fiordland. And all washed down by a
stunning glass of Mt. Difficulty Riesling.
The next day we head to the expansive lodge and golf resort of Millbrook
– we loved the painting in our villa lounge – because behind it is the
secret flat screen TV! Our steam infusion spa was so relaxing and
invigorating – thanks to the wonderful therapist Minaxie Daya. Sarah
Stacey looked after us superbly and we so want to return to Millbrook.
There is so much to see in these parts with wineries, rides, bungy
jumps, skiing... We'll have to come back next year.