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6 far-flung retreats in New Zealand perfect for social distancing

With the trans-Tasman travel ‘bubble’ on the horizon, we check in to New Zealand hotels that let you holiday – and social isolate at the same time.

Matakauri Lodge
Matakauri Lodge © Robertson Lodges

Matakauri Lodge

Queenstown, South Island

The whole of this property is spectacular, but the Owner’s Cottage is particularly beguiling, if only for its jaw-dropping setting overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, just outside Queenstown. The private alpine retreat comes with space to sleep eight, paired with a spacious lounge, full kitchen and dining room. Cook up a storm, or call on your chef for in-villa meals backdropped by mountains. Be sure to leave a bit of room for the homemade cookies and brownies that are delivered to your doorstep daily. Easily fill the days with jet safaris, heli rides to waterfalls for serene picnics, golfing on glaciers and vineyard lunches.

Kauri Cliffs

Bay of Islands, North Island

Luxurious retreats don’t get more far flung than Kauri Cliffs, situated on the edge of the Bay of Islands on New Zealand’s remote north coast. The property’s 22 suites occupy more than 2,400 hectares of farmland. Guests will find unparalleled wilderness and unrivalled stargazing – minus street lights, roads and the hum of city skyscrapers. Even more exclusive are the brand new Residences: three four-bedroom villas set in a separate enclave to the main lodge. Ideal for families and groups of friends travelling together. Private chefs are on call, and tours for just you and your friends await – think sea kayaking and guided heritage journeys through this beguiling countryside.

Read: The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs hotel review

The Residences at Kauri Cliffs
The Residences at Kauri Cliffs © Robertson Lodges

Helena Bay

Northeast corner of New Zealand’s North Island

In a country known for its lavish lodges, Helena Bay stands out for both its dramatic location and no-expense-spared facilities. Set on a three-kilometre stretch of remote northern coast on New Zealand’s North Island, the lodge’s five villas – each named after native birds and fitted with private balconies (and binoculars) – come designed with handmade European linens, mosaic-tiled bathrooms and Molton Brown amenities. Meals feature produce from the property’s farm and gardens; after dinner, pick a vintage from the 1,000-bottle cellar, pull up a pillow beside the alfresco firepit and watch the stars fill the sky. The Poor Knights Islands lie 20 kilometres offshore, and guests are afforded plenty of opportunities to explore the marine reserve in style.

Otahuna Lodge

Tai Tapu, South Island

One of the first NZ lodges to reopen, back in May, Otahuna’s Lord of the Manor package allows you to hire out the entire luxe property. Which means you and nine friends have exclusive run of the historic Victorian mansion, set on immaculate grounds south of Christchurch. Enjoy calming walks through the countryside, then return for gourmet meals and fireside wine.

Otahuna Lodge
Otahuna Lodge

The Rees Hotel

Queenstown, South Island

It’s hard not to gasp when you arrive at The Rees Hotel, the lofty floor-to-ceiling windows of its lobby framing the natural drama Queenstown is known for: the rugged Remarkables range, reflected in mirror-like Lake Wakatipu. Everything at this low-slung hotel on the outskirts of the South Island’s premier resort town revolves around this view, whether you’re by the fire in the library, enjoying a meal inspired by Central Otago produce in True South Dining Room, or watching the sun set from the private terrace of your stylish hotel room, villa, residence or apartment. During the day, wander about the lake, head to the hills for a hike, sip your way around the region’s wineries or pull on your ski boots – during winter months, this is the gateway to some of New Zealand’s best snow-covered slopes.

Maruia River Retreat

Murchison, South Island, New Zealand

Secluded and surrounded by native forest on the banks of a river, Maruia is the ultimate natural antidote to city life. Until mid-October, its seven villas are available exclusively to 14 guests travelling together, with diversions ranging for forest bathing and sunrise yoga to guided hikes and river rafting. Disconnect, recharge and rejuvenate.

Maruia River Retreat
Maruia River Retreat © Boutique Hotels & Lodges NZ

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Lead image: The view from The Residences at Kauri Cliffs © Robertson Lodges