As a luxury hideaway holiday destination, New Zealand's reputation has just received a triple endorsement with three exclusive lodges named in the latest edition of the world's Top 20 Hideaways in Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report.
Christchurch’s Otahuna Lodge, Taupo’s Huka Lodge and Queenstown’s Blanket Bay have all made the reader’s choice international list, which reviews hotels and resorts with 75 or fewer rooms.
The Hideaway Report is a well-respected monthly newsletter which reviews luxury hotels and resorts. It was founded in 1979 by a travel writer under the pseudonym Andrew Harper. The publication prides itself on its impartiality, as Harper always travels incognito and pays his own way.
Otahuna Lodge came in at second, with Huka Lodge at no. 9 and Blanket Bay at no. 16 - just ahead of the only Australian entry. Three other southern hemisphere destinations made it into the list.
Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch
Just outside the South Island city of Christchurch, Otahuna is a magnificent example of 19th century colonial architecture - a grand country house built in Victorian style. It sits on an expansive estate and gardens that in September each year produce New Zealand's most glorious daffodil flower display.
The Hideaway Report describes Otahuna as an "evocative seven-suite Queen Anne manor amid century-old estate gardens … magnificently appointed public areas include a richly panelled dining room, library and guest lounge."
New Zealand's largest private historic residence is a member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux collection and has been much lauded for its beautiful luxury accommodation, glorious gardens and sophisticated cuisine.
An organic vegetable garden grows 95 different types of vegetables, herbs, nuts and fruit. The mushroom crypt has oyster and shiitake mushrooms, and porcini mushrooms grow in the shade of the lodge’s 100-year-old oak trees.
Huka Lodge, Taupo
Huka Lodge - a gracious 20-room lodge on the banks of the mighty Waikato River, in New Zealand’s central North Island - adds this latest recognition to a tableau d’honneur that’s almost as long as the 90 years it has been in existence.
Just a week ago Huka Lodge was named as 'Best Hotel in Australasia and the South Pacific' in the 2014 Reader’s Travel Awards of Condé Nast Traveller Magazine. It is the second year running that Huka has earned a place in the Top 20 International Hideaways 20; other accolades range from TripAdviser’s 2014 'Travellers' Choice Award' to Tatler’s 'Enduring Excellence Award' (2010), recognising "outstanding consistency in maintaining the highest standards of excellence for the last 25 years".
Huka Lodge has come a long way since it was founded by Irishman Alan Pye in 1924. It was his simple tented camp, generous hospitality and authentic tales of bountiful trout that brought visitors from around the world to Huka. Under new ownership since 1984, the lodge has been much celebrated for its refined style, luxurious experiences and hospitality.
Set within 17 acres of a nationally significant garden noted for its native plantings, the lodge sits in a magnificent setting on the banks of the teal-hued mighty Waikato River and just above the thundering Huka Falls. The range of luxury accommodation options include 18 Jnr Lodge Suites, one Lodge Suite and two exclusive cottages - The Owner’s Cottage and the Alan Pye Cottage - both designed and decorated to reflect the outdoor lovers' paradise of the Taupo region.
Blanket Bay, Queenstown
This is the third time that luxury lodge Blanket Bay - on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown - has been named in Andrew Harper’s Top 20 (2010, 2011).
Blanket Bay is regularly awarded top accolades, reaffirming its status as an internationally-renowned luxury lodge. Awards over the past 15 years include being named the 'World’s Ultimate Escape' by the UK Sunday Times Magazine, and several times taking the title of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report’s 'Best Hotel Under 50 Rooms' category.
Sitting at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu - on one of the world's top scenic drives - Blanket Bay is in close to Queenstown and the endless outdoor and luxury pursuits of New Zealand's famed Southern Lakes. Its name recalls the 19th century farm workers who made rough shelters from blankets to use when shearing their sheep. The 13-room lodge has lake views and an award-winning kitchen.
The Andrew Harper website describes Blanket Bay as a "splendid sanctuary along the shores of Lake Wakatipu with a majestic backdrop of snowcapped peaks; a scenic 45-minute drive from Queenstown".
International luxury travel
Luxury travel is a developing sector in New Zealand’s tourism industry.
Drawn firstly to the unspoilt landscape, international visitors are often blown away by the sophisticated infrastructure and services providing all the trappings of a first-class experience - topped off with peace, privacy and safety.
Discerning travellers regularly vote New Zealand as their favourite destination - among them Condé Nast readers who’ve voted New Zealand their favourite country in the world on multiple occasions.