A study compiled by happify.com showed taking a walk in nature reduced depression in 71 percent of participants. Just think what a weekend — or a whole week — in the great outdoors could do for your mental health and happiness.
Inspired by local backcountry South Island huts, High Country Cabin in Ben Ohau — halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown — provides a unique wilderness experience. This stylishly decorated cabin, set alone on four hectares in the heart of the Southern Alps, provides direct access to all the iconic natural amenities the area has to offer, including snow sports, mountaineering, hiking and tramping, mountain biking and fishing. Or if you feel like holing up for a few days in front of the log burner with your significant other for some well-deserved R&R, no one’s going to stop you.
Cost: From $160/night
Bookings: highcountrycabin.co.nz, airbnb.co.nz
THE LAP OF LUXURY
When money’s no object, there’s virtually no better place to rest your head than in the penthouse suite at Queenstown’s premiere lakefront address, Eichardt’s Private Hotel. For $10,000 a night, you’re invited to indulge in the terrace spa overlooking Lake Wakatipu, enjoy the in-suite sauna, and appreciate the 24/7 butler service, private chef and Krug Champagne (refreshed daily). Make use of the Land Rover driver at your disposal, or experience the natural surroundings in style with a helicopter ride to Cecil Peak followed by merino sheep shearing, fishing on Moke Lake and a swing at the world’s highest par-3 golf hole.
Cost: $10,000/night (minimum three)
WIDE OPEN SPACES
Pemako Farm’s boutique accommodation, The Kite, was purpose-built for people looking for quality, luxury and seclusion in the tranquil setting of the Abel Tasman. Take a dip in the refreshing Marahau River, explore the area by boat, on foot, by kayak or on horseback, then gaze up at the night sky from the outdoor shower or oversized bathtub. Bicycles are provided so you can visit the nearby village at your leisure. You might even come across a friendly farm animal or two while you’re enjoying this 10-hectare slice of paradise.
Cost: From $389/night
If complete immersion in nature is just what you need but camping isn’t your thing, Dundle Hill, 10 minutes past the Waitomo Caves, is the ideal place to switch off from your daily stresses. There’s no power here, just candlelight, woodburning fires, and the option to book out the whole 30-person cabin if you wish. It’s a rustic alternative to glamping, which offers a chance to experience our beautiful countryside without the distractions of modern life.
Cost: $1200/night (to book the whole cabin) or $70/adult (for individual bookings)
Sleeps: Up to 30
This unique glamping spot is located halfway between Wellington and Taupo on a 600-hectare sheep and beef farm with panoramic views of Kapiti Island, Mount Taranaki and Mount Ruapehu. It’s an immersive yet ultra-comfortable way for families, couples and adventurers alike to get a tranquil taste of rural New Zealand. Take it to the next level by booking a Ridge Top Farm walking/glamping package, which includes two 10-15km farm walks, catering, and accommodation for two nights.
Cost: From $190/night
A 30-minute drive from Whangarei Airport, Down The Road is a cottage on a family-run orchard, repurposed from its former life as croquet clubrooms. With views of swaying gum trees and across a beautiful bush-clad valley, it’s tempting to simply indulge in all the cottage has to offer and stay put for a couple of days. If that takes your fancy, the lovely owners can supply a provisions basket filled with local produce to enjoy for brekkie or take to a picturesque spot for a picnic lunch.
Cost: From $180/night
Luxury and comfort await at the new Donkey Bay Inn, near the historic township of Russell. On a private peninsula overlooking Waitata Bay, this architecturally designed boutique hotel boasts three guest suites with bold and eclectic interior styling. The Emperor’s Room is apartment-sized with private garden access; Tosca’s Room has floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the seascape; and the Skyfall suite has a private deck with 180-degree views. Plus, the 600m2 native garden doubles as a ‘living roof’ and is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.