The recent global publication Survey of Affluence and Wealth discovered travel was the top passion for 67% of the super wealthy.

There are over 30 properties across New Zealand offering luxury accommodation to super rich clients who have recently discovered this small country can provide the services and luxury they are accustomed to. These highly successful people are happy to pay more than $3000 a night with the ultra wealthy spending around $100.000 on a short New Zealand holiday. It’s believed these super rich visitors (you don’t call them ‘tourists’) spend more in one day than the average tourist spends for their entire Kiwi holiday.

It’s estimated there are 145,200 individuals with bank accounts over $NZD43 million. Luxury travel specialists, Virtuoso caters to this select few and has placed New Zealand fifth behind Italy, Iceland, South Africa and France as the hot destinations for their wealthy clients to visit this year. They have chosen New Zealand because of the spectacular scenery, impressive choice of luxury lodges and dramatic visitor attractions. The fact that these wealthy visitors can stroll around and sip coffee at a cafe and not be recognized is also a major incentive to come here.

Queenstown (

Queenstown is one of the world’s top alpine resorts so it is no surprise to find a number of luxury properties are located here to accommodate the rich visitor. This month, Eichardt’s Private Hotel in the town’s centre was nominated Australasia’s Best Luxury Romantic Hotel among 800 hotels that entered the international competition in Switzerland. Most upmarket hotels are located in the town itself but the really exclusive are found away from the throngs of tourists and are sited in private settings around Lake Wakatipu.


Although this dramatic property is not the most expensive in Queenstown (suite rates are around $2.500 a night) it is widely acknowledged as New Zealand’s leading luxury lodge and has received many international accolades. Discovery Channel featured it in their Seven Wonder Resorts of the World and their Five Star Insider documentaries. The American luxury lifestyle magazine, Robb Report has consistently listed Blanket Bay in the world’s top 100 hotels.

Blanket Bay (

Blanket Bay is located on a gentle rise overlooking Lake Wakatipu forty minutes drive from Queenstown. Many visitors swap their private jet at Queenstown International Airport for a helicopter to reach this hotel. It saves time and provides them with a spectacular overview of the location they will be staying in. The various suites, chalets and intimate rooms all have lake and mountain views. To go with these breathtaking views, guests have the use of an intimate den, a games room, spa, gym, jacuzzi, steam rooms, therapy suite and heated outdoor lap pool, as they no doubt would expect to have provided for them. An internationally recognized chef provides Pacific Rim cuisine served personally at their table. Apart from the luxurious accommodation, Blanket Bay provides guided fly-fishing, heli-flight-seeing to Milford Sound, jet boating, hiking in the Mt. Aspiring National Park, horse riding on a nearby high country farm and heli-skiing in the winter.

Blanket Bay Spa Room (

Like the other luxury retreats I have been fortunate to experience, Blanket Bay has that special stillness that I guess successful people yearn for to escape the pressures of running their business empires.


Opening in 1924 on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is the country’s oldest luxury lodge. Like many of the other exclusive accommodations in the country, this one is also hidden away from the general public.

Huka Lodge (

Located in the centre of the North Island, it is set in 17acres of park-like grounds with native trees and shrubs highlighted by extensive manicured gardens. The owners are particularly proud of the Californian Redwood trees that date back to the original plantings in the 1920s. Due to the location being well above sea level, the crisp, cold winters are perfect for Japanese maples, rhododendrons, hostas, hellebores, dogwoods, magnolias and azaleas that all thrive on the property. Being beside New Zealand’s longest river, fishing is an obvious sporting activity on offer. The lodge gets its name from the famous Huka Falls where 220.000 litres of water thunders over a series of ledges every second!! The noisy falls are far enough away from the lodge not to disturb the tranquillity that is a major feature of this retreat.

Huka Lodge Garden (


Consisting of 144 islands, the Bay of Islands is possibly the best tourist magnet in the North Island. There are numerous bays, promontories and points offering amazing seascapes that from the time of the early European settlers have attracted visitors from around the world. Eagles Nest is a luxury retreat built to utilize these ocean views. It sits on top of a dramatic ridge in the centre of a 75 acre estate.

Eagles Nest (

Being a luxury accommodation, Eagles Nest has its own resident personal trainer and spa therapists. Personal chefs are also on hand to provide specially designed meals of freshly caught fish, venison, lamb and crayfish (lobster). The villas around the property have private heated horizon edged lap pools with private Jacuzzis.  After the sun has set over the spectacular views, a home theatre system provides luxurious comfort for watching the latest movies. Unsurprisingly, there is a fully equipped gourmet kitchen.

Eagles Nest Seascape (

I tried to find out where the name came from as it is just an apostrophe away from Hitler’s retreat Eagle’s Nest built on a rocky outcrop at Obersalzberg in Germany. Maybe the name was inspired by the elevated position and views, two things common to both buildings. Eagle’s Nest is now a popular restaurant and beer garden while Eagles Nest in New Zealand takes its place as another of Australasia’s spectacularly located luxury retreats.


A few years ago, I was filming a promotion video for a Penthouse model and the location was a luxury lodge on Waiheke Island. As we approached the property along the island’s main road, there was absolutely no sign of the lodge. It wasn’t until we drove off the road and down a driveway, that the building revealed itself. The view from the lounge’s panoramic window over a private bay was stunning. The air was filled with birdsong and the surrounding garden was beautifully maintained but at the same time, honoured the rustic setting. This is a small, exclusive property only found by having the right contacts, something the wealthy have in abundance.

Waiheke Island Beach (


Because Waiheke is an island suburb of Auckland, it is popular with wealthy businessmen who are drawn to the solitude of an island while only 10 minutes by helicopter from the city’s CBD.

Boatshed Boutique Hotel (

The uniquely designed Boatshed Boutique Hotel is located above Oneroa, the island’s main town. The Independent Newspaper in England declared it one of ‘The Big Six Chic Nautical Hotels’ in the world. Local man David Scott converted his holiday ‘bach’ (cottage) into the boutique hotel it is today. It captures the laidback atmosphere of the island and is strongly influenced by the seas that surround it. I have spent an afternoon at this hotel and again, I was struck by the peaceful atmosphere in the place. Staff went quietly about their work, mainly out of view and service was there when needed. The hotel is another indication of the rapidly growing sophistication of Waiheke Island.

When checking out these luxury lodges, a lack of ostentation becomes apparent. The glittering interiors of luxury hotels in other parts of the world with their gold and glass wouldn’t fit with the essence of New Zealand. The generous use of wood and simple, almost rustic designs make a Kiwi luxury retreat stand out from the rest. I guess this is one of the endearing qualities the rich international visitor finds so appealing.

Only a decade ago, Europeans and Americans (if they had heard of it at all) considered New Zealand a bit of a backward place that produced sheep and rugby players. The change in that time has been staggering. Apart from the network of luxury retreats and boutique hotels, the country leads the world in adventure sports and offers world class wine trails, skifields and state-of-the-art tourist attractions. Last year, close to 4 million tourists popped into see the place, almost the total population of the country itself!!

Ceidrik Heward

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