The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs hotel review
Set within a 2,400-hectare working farm, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs serves up Hamptons charm in a luxurious 22-suite home away from home where you feel totally relaxed from the moment you arrive.
Traveller: Tina-Louise Jackson
Room: Deluxe Suite
Address: 139 Tepene Tablelands Rd, Matauri Bay 0245, New Zealand
Date: August 2018
Best for: Total relaxation in a stunning environment, where rolling farmland meets the sea.
The Signature factor
The service. From the moment you arrive, every interaction with the team at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs makes you feel that everyone is genuinely passionate about the lodge and your experience.
As the electric gates open and we sweep up the long drive, past fields of gambolling spring lambs (early this year, as it’s still just August when we visit), Kauri Cliffs first comes into view, and we’re blown away by the amazing seascape beyond the lodge and the golf course. As we pull up outside, met by Martin, the Lodge Manager, and our car is swiftly taken away to be parked and our luggage delivered to our room, we know this stay is going to be special. We head inside the main lodge, a light and airy homestead with a Hamptons feel, almost bathed in a golden glow. Open space, cream and caramel furnishings and open fireplaces beckon you to just sit a while and relax. While Jordan prepares us a welcome drink, we’re drawn to the expansive verandah beyond and head out to take in the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Set just a short distance from the lodge, our Deluxe Suite continues the effortless Hamptons beach-house feel: spacious with plenty of natural light and rattan chairs with the softest of blankets in front of the open fireplace. The oversized bathroom has both a shower and a tub, with two sinks so you’ll never be fighting for the mirror. Described as ‘California King’, the bed is huge and inviting after the drive up from Auckland, however, the view catches my eye once more. The verandah offers bird’s-eye views over the golf course to the Cavalli Islands beyond.
At 390 square metres, The Owner’s Cottage offers space and comfort for friends or family looking for that special escape. Two bedrooms, open fireplaces, an infinity pool, Jacuzzi and terrace again offer stunning views of the coastline. With a fully equipped kitchen and outdoor barbecue area, you may choose to dine in or out to your preference.
On my plate
A more formal affair (jackets are required for men), dinner starts with canapés and drinks in the main lodge. Mingle and chat with other guests, or sink into one of the many sofas in front of the open fireplaces, now with a roaring fire within, to enjoy your pre-dinner cocktail or glass of champagne. You may choose to dine in the main restaurant or alternatively, savour a more private dining experience on the covered verandah (with open fireplace of course) or in the Tiger Room. The menu changes daily, and we opt for the Signature Menu, a five-course degustation with wine pairing, beautifully curated by Valeria the sommelier. Valeria takes time to ask our preferences, and matches the wines, based both on the exquisite courses we are served and our own wine tastes. The courses range from a delicious parmesan risotto to butter-soft Fiordland wild venison.
We’re blessed with glorious sunshine the following morning and take our breakfast on the verandah, a selection of pastries, fruit and cereals buffet-style. Anticipating a busy day exploring the estate, we opt for the full breakfast to fuel our adventures, and aren’t disappointed.
Highlights from the mini-bar
Suites feature a fully stocked mini-bar, and beer, cider and soft drinks are complimentary. Benjer juices (I recommend the Apple & Boysenberry) line the mini-bar, and coffee and tea-making facilities, plus a selection of snacks, are also available. Try the home-made cookies and brownies; they’re so delicious we ask for more to take with us when we head out to explore the grounds.
I wish I could take home …
The bed. It’s as spacious and comfortable as it looks. If I had this at home, I’m not sure I would be on time for work every day …
Nestled at the edge of a totara forest, take the winding paths from the main lodge and accommodation through the lush greenery to emerge at the spa. With a fully equipped fitness centre, lap pool, hot pool and sauna, choose to be as active as you wish or relax a while and take in the surrounds, with floor-to-ceiling windows opening up onto the forest beyond. With a wide range of treatments on offer, I select the Manuka Honey Cocoon, a luxuriant body scrub followed by a manuka honey mask that makes my skin feel amazing. Each treatment room opens up onto an outdoor terrace, and I doze off under the soft blankets to the sound of native birdsong as the honey mask works its magic.
It’s official. Staying in is the new going out when you stay at Kauri Cliffs. Everything you could want is here at the lodge. With 12 open fireplaces in the lodge, curl up and relax with a book, take some exercise at the infinity pool, or head to the spa for a swim, sauna or, of course, to indulge in the treatments on offer.
For the active, there are tennis courts, and the pièce de résistance is the David Harman-designed golf course. With 15 minutes between tee times, even at full capacity, the course is never crowded, and you can take time to perfect your swing, as well as soak up the incredible views.
For the adventurous, take a golf buggy and head down to the three beaches (some walking required or the lodge will drive you if you prefer). We head to Pink Beach, taking its name from the crushed shells that make up the sand, hunt for abalone shells that are abundant in the waters beyond and paddle in the clearest of water. The lodge will set up a picnic for you if you’d care to linger and in summer, organises a weekly Friday evening barbecue.
There are plenty of hiking trails for the energetic. Head down to the waterfall, or view the immense, ancient kauri tree from which Kauri Cliffs takes its name; it’s at least 700–900 years old. Well-placed picnic tables along the cliffs afford phenomenal views. Shore fishing can also be arranged (and your catch prepared for the table), as can quad biking and horse riding, all within the grounds. If you’re travelling with family, the kids will love the Farm Tour.
If you really feel the need to step out from this amazing sanctuary, helicopter tours can be arranged to enjoy the local scenery or to visit the largest kauri tree in the world, Tāne Mahuta.
As you can expect, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs has a long list of accolades. The golf course is currently ranked in the Top 40 of the world by Golf Digest, and the lodge itself was named in Condé Nast’s Gold List of 2018.
If only …
I had been told that a one-night stay isn’t enough. I feel I just want to linger longer, and really don’t want to leave.
Where to find The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs
139 Tepene Tablelands Rd, Matauri Bay 0245, New Zealand. Fly or drive up from Auckland; the lodge is a short drive from Kerikeri Airport, or helicopter transfers can be arranged.