- Kauri Cliffs (Kerikeri; tel. 09/407-0010): I could find no fault whatsoever with this sublime northern retreat. It is, as the saying goes, "heaven on a stick," and I'm not even a golfer! The staff here are some of the friendliest in the country and the rooms - especially the bathrooms - are my idea of true luxury.
- Eagles Nest (Russell; tel. 09/403-8333): Combine the very best of international taste with the magic of Northland's subtropical environment and a rich vein of natural energy, and you get a luxury retreat quite unlike any other in New Zealand. Daniel and Sandie Biskind have created a world-class retreat worthy of anyone's prolonged attention.
- Huka Lodge (Taupo; tel. 07/378-5791): Exclusivity reigns supreme at this Small Luxury Hotels of the World member. International awards bounce off the walls, and guests invariably comment on rooms fit for kings. It has a supreme location beside the Waikato River just above the Huka Falls and a reputation for quality and service that seems impossible to shake.
- Treetops Lodge & Estate (Rotorua; tel. 07/333-2066): My expectations may never be the same again after staying at Treetops. Being spoiled with one of the most gorgeous suites in the country tends to have that effect. Set in a unique native bush environment, it's a true sanctuary that will lower your heart rate within minutes of arriving.
- The Farm at Cape Kidnappers (Hawke's Bay; tel. 06/875-1900): Like its big sister, Kauri Cliffs, this stay richly deserves all the superlatives. It's a case of "your wish is our command" here and if you're a golfer, you'll love what's been rated the 10th best course in the world outside the U.S. The cliff-edge, rural setting is to die for.
- Eichardt's Private Hotel (Queenstown; tel. 03/441-0450): This Small Luxury Hotels of the World member has received glowing accolades in Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, and it's becoming the hotel of choice for discerning, upscale travelers. In a remodeled historic building in central Queenstown, it oozes first-class style and understated glamour. It remains one of my favorites.
- Blanket Bay (Queenstown; tel. 03/442-9442): If you want luxury on a grand scale in a majestic setting to match, look no further. These gorgeous stone buildings marry so completely with the awesome landscape, it seems as if they were always here. Inside, you'll find an outstanding level of service and comfort.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.