A world-class luxury lodge should be on your to-do list

REGISTRATION

Before arriving at Matakauri Lodge, about 10 minutes from Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island – about a three-hour flight from Australia’s east coast – guests are asked about their mode of transport, providing an important clue about its target clientele. Will you arrive by helicopter? Uh no. I will not come by helicopter but by Corolla. A Toyota Corolla Hertz. But I still get a stunning finish at dusk, as the surrounding Queenstown peaks soaring mightily above central Lake Wakatipu are spectacularly tinged with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry like gargantuan Neapolitan scoops of ice cream. What a treat.

THE LOOK

Exclusive luxury lodges are to New Zealand what ryokans are to Japan. There is no manual on how to create one of these lodges, except that it must be unequivocally indulgent, extremely expensive, and possess the ability of its beautiful surroundings to not only momentarily take your breath away, but to run away with him as an All Blacks winger. . Early versions were set for hunting and fishing and decorated with trophy heads of ghastly animals. Matakauri, in stark contrast, was designed by Virginia Fisher, the doyenne of Kiwi interior chic, and is unerringly contemporary in its use of stone, wood and glass with soothing, lightly tinted Scandinavian tones. However, impressive as it is, after more than a decade under its current owner, a refresh, while by no means urgent, can’t be too far off, especially when blessed with the highest expectation of clientele.

THE FOLLOWING

SatAug6Review The luxurious Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand.  Photo: provided

My huge luxury villa-suite, separated from the others and accessed by a long walk from the main pavilion building, is nestled in landscaped gardens with every conceivable amenity waiting for you inside. The bedroom is on a loft with shutters providing privacy and darkness, while the double vanity bathroom — itself almost as large as some hotel rooms — has an oversized tub right next to floor-to-ceiling windows. The morning reveals striking views of Lake Wakatipu, the snow-capped Remarkables mountain ranges, and Cecil and Walter peaks.

FOOD + DRINK

SatAug6Review The luxurious Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand.  Photo: provided

Food and wine are an essential component of New Zealand’s luxury lodge offering, Matakauri Lodge being no exception. True to form, the dining room offers striking panoramic views (detecting a pattern here?) as well as modern New Zealand dishes accomplished by chef Jonathan Rogers served by a refined wait staff who could do without the Slightly stuffy black and white kit for something a little more suitably, well, lodgey. The adjoining lounges are serviced by roaring fires in the winter and probably whenever there are nippy and crudely comfortable leather armchairs and sofas. And, yes, that Picasso tapestry on the wall near the restaurant is authentic and part of the art collection belonging to the American Robertson family, owners of the lodge.

OUTSIDE + ABOUT

Matakauri is a hard place to leave while you’re there, let alone when you leave, but a range of experiences are offered by the lodge, from fully guided wine tours to skiing and helicopter sightseeing. Despite the lodge’s serene and secluded location, the center of Queenstown and its plethora of restaurants, bars, cafes and adrenaline-soaked activities are just minutes away. With the lodge located just outside of town, you get a head start on the scenic route to Glenorchy – the heart of Lord of the Rings – where a wealth of outdoor activities are available.

THE VERDICT

If you’re lucky enough to experience a world-class New Zealand luxury lodge, Matakauri Lodge is an unrivaled starting point. At least once in your life, even for one night, seize the opportunity.

ESSENTIAL

Rates from NZ$1,874.50 ($1,686.37) per night (minimum nights may apply) including accommodation and aperitif, dinner, breakfast and lunch (excluding wine and spirits). See robertsonlodges.com; queenstownnz.co.nz

Anthony Dennis has stayed with Matakauri Lodge, Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand. See newzealand.com; airnewzealand.com.au

OUR SCORE OUT OF FIVE

★★★★★

UNDERLINE

How is the serenity? Perfect, thank you bro. It’s hard to believe Queenstown is so easily accessible from the lodge

LOW LIGHT

All of this tranquility and indulgence comes at a high price, in full keeping with the exclusive nature of the New Zealand luxury lodge concept.

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