Bury your phone, leave the laptop at home and immerse yourself in New Zealand’s jaw-dropping wilderness. We pick the top Kiwi stays for getting back to nature…
Pastoral idyll meets alpine epic at this new lodge set amid the 800 bucolic hectares of Cathedral Peak Station. Wake to views across sheep-speckled meadows and the waters of Lake Manapouri to the craggy peaks of Fiordland National Park beyond, then tuck into a field-to-table breakfast with fresh berries, honey and eggs.
Fuel up well: adventures on your doorstep include hikes along the Kepler Track – one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – kayaking on the lake and boat cruises on Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds.
Learn more: Cabot Lodge
Everywhere you look, there’s wilderness. That’s the beauty of a stay in this glass hut high in the tussocked hills of the Banks Peninsula. Several PurePods are scattered around Christchurch and Kaikoura, but none of the others match the scenery above Port Levy Bay, an hour’s drive from Christchurch and a good 25 minutes’ hike from the nearest road.
It’s a truly off-grid experience: the hut is entirely self-sufficient, with a solar-powered kitchen, water drawn from a natural spring and – best of all – no WiFi. Lie in bed and drift off beneath a glittering canopy of stars, then wake to explore the area, perhaps heading to Akaroa to spot endangered Hector’s dolphins.
There’s nothing like a treehouse for sparking high spirits. Rising above a grove of kanuka trees, the five canopy-level treehouse rooms at Hapuku enjoy views across the surrounding deer park to the Kaikoura ranges.
Head out for mountain hikes, surfing at Mangamaunu Bay or whale-watching from Kaikoura, then light the woodburning stove and ease yourself into a spa bath.
Truly remote – accessible only by helicopter – but with hot showers and gourmet food, Whare Kea Chalet is the epitome of remote luxury. Perched at an altitude of 1,750m on Dragonfly Peak, the two-bedroom steel-and-glass chalet affords jaw-dropping views of Mount Aspiring and Aoraki (Mount Cook).
For four months of the winter, snow is ubiquitous – time to try heli-skiing – while the trails of nearby Mount Aspiring National Park beckon in summer.
Learn more: Whare Kea Chalet
The bach (say: ‘batch’) is the quintessential New Zealand holiday home – most Kiwis own one for wilderness getaways. But though many are simple shacks, the two-bedroom Hill House is entirely more substantial and secluded, with far-reaching views over the Clutha Valley and Southern Alps. There’s a wood fire to warm the bones after tramping high-country trails in the Pisa Range, and a large kitchen in which to cook a feast to complement wine from the surrounding vineyards. Cheers!
Learn more: Hill House
Though easily accessed by road, this two-bedroom cottage set beneath the glowering peak of Mount Ruapehu is enveloped by native manuka and beech bush, with only rogue deer for neighbours.
There’s no shortage of fine tramping in nearby Tongariro National Park, and the Old Coach Road cycle trail runs right past. After sundown, set the wood fire ablaze and relax into twin freestanding bathtubs.
Learn more: Night Sky Cottage
For absolute privacy, you can’t beat bagging a stretch of coastline to yourself. And though Aucklanders throng Waiheke Island at the weekend, this adorable three-bedroom cottage is a haven of solitude, with a private beach and its own outdoor hut tub from which to gaze down grassy slopes to the waters of the Hauraki Gulf.
Cook up a feast on the barbecue on your deck-with-a-view, then work it off on the island’s looping coastal trail, spotting little penguins en route.
Learn more: OceanFront Luxury Cottage
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