With a landscape dotted with bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers, surging waterfalls and snow-capped mountains, combined with its cosmopolitan cities, gourmet food and wine, rural retreats and fascinating Maori culture, New Zealand’s North Island truly has it all.
If you’ve always been curious about where to eat, drink, stay and play in this far corner of the world, then check out this Luxury Escapes guide to the top things to do on New Zealand’s North Island.
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New Zealand’s North Island is home to a rich Maori culture, and part of their culture is the traditional Maori Hāngi (earth oven feast). The top places for Hāngi in New Zealand will place baskets of food on hot stones inside a large fire pit to cook a delicious meal to be shared with friends and family.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve: Willowbank hosts a Ko Tāne Māori Cultural Performance and Hangi dinner which takes guests on a journey into New Zealand’s traditional culture. Here, guests are shown the tools and skills of a Maori hunter, traditional cooking techniques and the traditional instruments used to communicate with the Gods, before sitting down for a four-course meal.
Mitai Village: Opening with a concert and hangi performance, Mitai Village offers one of the island’s most striking experiences with the Maoris arriving by waka (war canoe) before taking guests into the bush to see glow worms and to enjoy a delicious meal.
Te Puia: Taking place at the site of the world-famous Pōhutu geyser, this experience combines the very best of New Zealand’s beauty with a traditional experience. Opt for the Te Pō evening tour to enjoy a Māori feast prepared in the Hāngi style and traditional storytelling.
New Zealand is known around the world for its wines, and the North Island is sprinkled with some of the finest wineries in the country for tastings and amazing views.
Volcanic Hills Winery, Rotorua: This award-winning winery offers a tasting room at the top of the Skyline gondola – so expect breathtaking views and great wines.
Poppies Martinborough, Martinborough: Romance and elegance abound at this couple-run winery where you can sample crafted wines and enjoy a lunch created using the finest local produce including salted pork belly, relish, cured salmon and tapenade.
Moana Park Winery, Napier: Producing naturally grown wines that are free of allergy-inducing additives, Moana Park Winery is a boutique establishment where the vibe is casual and the wines are crisp.
Image courtesy of Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel
Sofitel Wellington: Currently rated the #2 hotel in Wellington on TripAdvisor, and having received a five-star hotel rating from Qualmark and recognition in the Haute Grandeur Global Awards, this boutique property combined all of the French elegance of the Sofitel brand with the cool sophistication of Wellington.
Sofitel Wellington is ideally located in a quiet part of the city while also being just a few minutes away from the must-see attractions. Wellington is a city for foodies and nearby Logan Brown, Ortega Fish Shack and Pizza Pomodoro shouldn’t be missed if you want an unforgettable experience. You can also jump on the iconic Wellington tram and head to Cuba Street to soak up the bohemian vibes created by the cool cafes and street entertainers.
The Cordis Auckland: Brought to you by The Langham Hospitality Group, the Cordis, Auckland is a fairly new brand that offers the same world-class service expected of Langham properties but with a whole new stylish personality. After a multi-million dollar refurbishment, the Cordis, Auckland is the perfect base for your New Zealand adventure. Explore the wharf-side bars and restaurants of the CBD, visit a museum or two or head out for a day of discovering New Zealand’s spectacular scenery and wineries.
Hilton Lake Taupo: Originally built in 1889, Hilton Lake Taupo has carefully maintained the charming Victorian exterior while updating the interiors with all the luxe amenities you’d expect from a Hilton. Enjoy impressive views across Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, delicious dining at the onsite Bistro Lago helmed by celebrity chef Gareth Stewart, take a dip in the heated thermal spa pool, unwind in the sauna and steam room or rent some mountain bicycles from reception and explore the incredible natural surrounds.
Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel, Rotorua: Discover Rotorua, nominated by the New York Times as one of 2018’s must-visit destinations. Sitting peacefully on the banks of Lake Rotorua, while remaining within close proximity to all of the region’s attractions, Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel is the perfect place to retreat after a day of explorations and adventures amongst nature.
Counting only eight luxurious rooms, set in over an acre of perfectly manicured rose gardens and sweeping lawns, the hotel is an oasis of privacy and serenity fitted with incredible facilities. Take a dip in the solar heated swimming pool or two hot tubs, relax in the superb spa, discover the secret grotto and the hotel’s fine dining restaurant – which grants some the most incredible views over the lake.
The Landing, Bay of Islands: Nestled on the coast in New Zealand’s breathtaking Bay of Islands is The Landing, a 1,000-acre property with six private beaches, an award-winning vineyard, verdant wetlands and four very exclusive and unique residences, as visited by former US President Barack Obama earlier this year. From garden-to-plate dining crafted from freshly-caught fish, crayfish and scallops to wine-tasting from the onsite vineyard, guests are invited to discover the spoils of the land and sea whilst staying in five-star privacy and luxury.
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New Zealand is a natural playground that has acted as the perfect backdrop for photographers, film directors and wanderers looking to get lost in a place that feels far away from far away.
Huka Falls: The Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River and the most visited natural attraction in New Zealand. Every second up to 220,000 litres of water gush through the river’s gorge creating a wild bluey-green stream of water that you can view from the walkways or by boat.
Hobbiton Movie Set: The Lord of the Rings fans who have always dreamed of visiting the Shire will be in hobbit heaven at this original movie set. Wander around the rolling green hills that house those iconic little hobbit homes, or book yourself on an evening tour complete with a banquet feast inside The Green Dragon dining room.
Hells Gate: Embrace the beneficial powers of the earth at Hells Gate, home to a mud volcano, steaming cliffs, bush walks, waterfalls and sulphur and mud baths. Take a dip in the park’s pools, each of which is a different colour and temperature, and reap the benefits of this area which locals believe once healed Maori warriors.
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