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Luxury lodge-hopping in New Zealand

  • Author:naky
  • Source:www.diecastingpartsupplier.com
  • Release on:2016-03-02
The four accountants who’d come down from Nelson by helicopter to have fish and chips on the quay had flown back home. The Australian-Chinese family next door had finished cooking the fish they’d caught in the bay and the guys in the public campsite at the end of the cove had run out of beer and finally fallen silent. I stood on the balcony of my cabin at the Bay of Many Coves. The only sound was the Sound — the waters of Queen Charlotte Sound, lapping against the pontoon, which, with its white uprights and the white yacht moored nearby, seemed to float in space against the flat, black bay.

So ended a blissful day in New Zealand and a rather remarkable journey. In a week I had crossed between North and South Islands visiting some of the 31 properties that make up the Luxury Lodges of New Zealand. This is a loose association of places, owned by a variety of owners from Wall Street billionaires to third-generation families of rural landowners — and they are booming.

Once seen by many as a destination for backpackers to hike, bike and bungee jump, New Zealand’s profile is changing. In 2014 the national tourist board developed a “premium sector strategy” that would appeal to the world’s wealthiest 40-60 year olds. It hoped to capitalise on a perceived rejection of ostentatious luxury in favour of privacy, authenticity and natural environments.

Already it has paid dividends: the members of Luxury Lodges of New Zealand saw revenues rise 22 per cent for the six months to September 2015 compared to the previous year. And rather than simply visiting one upmarket lodge, they are increasingly indulging in what is — genuinely — becoming known as “lodge-hopping”. You can hop, as I did, on internal flights and into rental cars. You can hop on ferries. Or — if you’re really not scrimping — you can hop from lodge to lodge on a helicopter; they all have helipads.

There are walking trails along barren clifftops and through wild meadows with the promise of spotting kiwis and tuis (the former hard; the latter easy). There’s also what Golf Digest says is the best course in New Zealand. The rooms are what you’d expect a billionaire with taste and a care for heritage to make of a 19th-century sheepshearer’s farmhouse.

From there I flew to Queenstown, the more or less undisputed global capital of adventure and adrenalin. On the outskirts overlooking Lake Wakatipu is Azur Lodge, nine cabins (or villas, as they prefer to be known) sprinkled down a steep slope. Inside: the trappings of a contemporary chic hotel — white sofas, fireplaces, throws, rugs and sculptures. Azur is not part of the lodges association for the simple reason that it doesn’t serve dinner, but instead staff will order food in from one of the many international restaurants nearby. I was as happy here with my fishburger from Fergbaker and Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc as with any meal on the trip.