Best hotels in New Zealand
If it’s good enough for Queen Elizabeth II... The British monarch and many more famous names have stayed at this impeccably-kept country lodge near Lake Taupo, which opened in 1924. Set on the banks of the trout-rich Waikato River, what began as a rustic fly-fishing getaway is now a super-plush five-star retreat with 25 tranquilly decorated suites and cottages. There’s plenty of action close by, from hiking and biking to jet-boat thrills and sky-diving, then it’s back into Huka’s pampering arms for a five-course gourmet dinner. If you’ve something to celebrate, this is the place.
Auckland is an essential stop for many travellers touring New Zealand, and this design-loving hotel set in a Downtown street full of interesting independent shops is a richly characterful place to hang your hat. Owner Michelle Deery uses vintage lights, boldly-striped wool carpets and cherry-picked mid-century furnishings to create a sassy city-centre bolthole. The 25 individually styled rooms come in six categories, including family-friendly loft suites. Two bars and the glass-roofed Debretts Kitchen attract a local crowd happy to knock back craft beers and cocktails sporting witty names like Pear Pressure.
Easily reached by ferry or seaplane from Auckland, Waiheke Island is a little charmer. White sand beaches, small-scale wineries, cycle rides and terrific fish and chips are all good reasons to head here for a loved-up night or two – along with this style-savvy restaurant-with-rooms in Oneroa. There are only three, dressed in a chic, all-white style with pampering merino blankets and Aesop amenities. Add in a boutique selling hip beach kit and a menu bursting with local oysters and wicked desserts and the weekend’s sorted.
New Plymouth shot straight to the top of the NZ cool list with the opening of its dazzling Len Lye Centre – devoted to the country's extraordinary kinetic artist – in 2015. Right alongside, this easy-paced contemporary hotel is the ideal place to stay while seeing what all the fuss is about. The 28 suites come in a New York-loft style with funky swivel chairs and moody portraits by Moroccan artist Julien Deligne, plus there are heaps of fab shops and yummy places to eat in the companion West End Precinct.
Reached by a 30 minute water-taxi ride from Picton, the gateway to the super-scenic Marlborough Sounds, Bay of Many Coves is a tranquil five-star resort that offers both seclusion and natural thrills. The well-appointed one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are a good choice for family groups and come in a harmonious wooden style with a balcony looking across Arthur’s Bay to the mountains of Queen Charlotte Sound. Treats include a pool, spa and the upscale Foredeck restaurant, and there’s plenty to do, from kayaking to dolphin-watching cruises.
Following an earthquake in 1931, the coastal city of Napier was rebuilt in a zestful Thirties style that has left its central streets richly stocked with buildings adorned with sunbursts, chevrons and zigzags. Well-placed for exploring this architectural feast, The Dome offers slickly designed contemporary studios and apartments by the seafront that are set inside the 1935 T&G Building. Options range from the Dame Studios, sleeping two with a shared kitchenette and laundry facilities, to a top-floor four-bedroom penthouse overlooking Marine Parade. Time for a party, perhaps?
In the heart of New Zealand's capital, this 183-room design hotel has a confident, quirky style powered by the in-your-face contemporary paintings, sculptures and costumes collected by former owner Chris Parkin. The art may not be for everyone but it’ll definitely get you talking and the waterfront location – close to the free-entry national museum Te Papa and an excellent Sunday food market – is good enough reason to check in. Amenities include restaurants serving French and Asian cuisine plus a fitness centre with a 55ft lap pool.
Created by the American-born collector Glenn Schaeffer, Mahana is a 25-hectare wine estate near Nelson that showcases one of the leading contemporary art collections in New Zealand. You can stay in the four-bedroom owner’s villa, contemplating a gallery filled with original works by many top names, or there’s a loft suite and spa suite that are more intimate and affordable. Overnight guests are at liberty to walk through the sculpture-dotted gardens and vineyards, which produce premium organic wines, while a serene terrace restaurant serves sublime lunches of seasonal tapas and South Island cheeses.
Built in 1895 by Sir Heathon Rhodes, Otahuna Lodge is a ten-suite country house hotel near Christchurch renowned for its 30 acres of glorious woods and gardens. Check in here to draw breath on your tour, finally read that book and enjoy some old-school civility. All of the suites bar one have fireplaces, but there are no TVs, while rates include laundry and a five-course dinner with paired wines. Complimentary bikes are available and there's a pool, tennis and cooking classes featuring the lodge’s organic produce.
Queenstown’s reputation as NZ’s adventure capital means one thing – you'll most likely be far too busy jumping off things and getting mighty scared to spend much time in your room. What you need is a friendly, comfortable central base like the 13-room The Dairy, which comes with handy amenities like a drying room and luggage storage – and, oh look, a spa pool and homemade cookies. All rooms feature robes, fridge, ironing board and tea/coffee facilities and it’s just a short walk to the Skyline Gondola with its stupendous views.