There is a dearth of truly lavish hotels in New Zealand. Although tourism has overtaken agriculture as New Zealand's top GDP ticket, the infrastructure to cater to the burgeoning tourism receipt has yet to catch up. For some reason, big established hotel names have yet to enter New Zealand's tourism industry.
A tip when searching for luxury accommodation in New Zealand, is to click
on the 'Others' option from 'Hotels' or 'B&B', when searching on tripadvisor. For some reason,
the only luxury options in New Zealand are lodges. Hotels go up to a maximum of 3* in the small towns, if there are any in the first place.
Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses is the premier luxury option in Kaikoura. Heck, it's the only luxury option in the whole of Kaikoura. By and large the accommodation options in Kaikoura are motels, apartments, and the like. Nothing fancy really, so by default, Hapuku Lodge is the ritziest.
So, a luxury lodge isn't as posh as the typical 5* or 6* luxury hotel, and if you thought otherwise, you'd be in for a huge disappointment when you check in. Think rustic luxury, like glamping. Roughing it out in nature with all the bells and whistles of the modern world. Like unlimited complimentary wifi throughout the lodge.
Hapuku Lodge may be a little off the Kaikoura town center, about 15-minutes
drive, but it's worth it. It's not like the town center is bustling with
nightlife any way. You can see the lodge at the end of the driveway, off the main road. There's always ample parking in the front, because there's more parking than there are rooms.
The main lodge building. It's a 10-room boutique property, which once used to be the main quarters for the family which ran a deer farm. There's still a large deer paddock behind the building, and makes for the coolest views.
The deer paddock. Because there were only 2 stags in a great big field, we had a grand ol' time spotting them at all hours of the day, with their antlers distinguishing them from the shrubbery. It's like Where's Waldo, stag-style.
The tiny little pool, set between the tree houses on the left and lodge rooms in the main building on the right. The tree houses are kitschy and all, with a spectacular view to boot - the Kaikoura ranges on the left and the pacific ocean front and center in a distance, but they are a pain to get to, climbing up and down a long narrow flight of stairs. The pool is heated, a much needed amenity because the water's frigid even in the height of Summer.
The pool overlooks the deer paddocks, and this was the doe paddock in the background; they're kept separately from the 2 stags in the paddock in the foreground.
The common dining-living area in the main lodge where guests get to hang out or mingle. There's really no need to though, because each lodging is entirely self-contained.
The living area, with lots of plush seating, in front of the stone fireplace.
The stairwell, which led to our room in front, with opposing views of the pacific ocean on the right and the deer paddock on the left.
Such a pretty view, a stag in each window, set against the backdrop of the Kaikoura ranges.
The one and only restaurant, where we had our meals, with its open-concept kitchen. The food here was awesome. Unbelievably fresh produce, finessed by the best chefs.
There's no room service, but over Christmas Day, where everything was shuttered tight, Hapuku Lodge offers a picnic lunch (NZ$34 per person), packed with everything you could possibly need for sustenance. So, what New Zealanders do on holidays, is to pack a picnic, and just head to the great outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Or they barbecue. I loved that we only had to tell Hapuku Lodge once, during room reservations, that we are strongly averse to parsley/cilantro/coriander, and they remembered those aversions our entire stay. Now, that's great service. Here, we got a free-range glazed ham sandwich, organic free-range chicken sandwich, local new potato salad, fresh Kaikoura cherries, Marlborough stonefruit, dark chocolate, and the most luscious walnut & beetroot brownie.
We stayed at the Lodge Suites, a 900sqf corner room on the second floor in the main building. Prices start at NZ$1200++ for double occupancy (inclusive of breakfast and set dinner). The good thing is that it's bright and sunlit; the bad thing is that the room is not effectively blacked-out, so you end up waking up at 5am in the morning in Summer when the sun rises. Also, the tv is teeny tiny, and we strained to watch the telly at night. The great thing about Hapuku, is the availability of air-conditioning/heating to regulate the temperatures in New Zealand's temperate climate. No need to open your windows for fresh air during a frosty winter that'll freeze your nuts right off, or to stay enclosed in a stuffy room to avoid the cold.
The bathroom, which is door-less, with the small single sink on the left, and the toilet on the left (it's privatised by a sliding, lock-less, frosted glass door). Towel rails and bathroom floors are heated for comfort.
Leading to the bath area, with the Japanese soaking tub on the right, and a rain shower on the left. Drainage in the shower area was less than ideal, a full day after we took a shower, and the middle was still a big puddle of runoff.
The Japanese soaking tub, large enough to fit 2 grown adults comfortably, with jacuzzi facilities, was where we parked our bare butts for hours on end, nursing our wines and lagers.
Separate living room, with a small terraced balcony looking out into the entire paddock. There's another tv, also small and tiny, next to the fireplace. The couch is also tiny, and therefore less-than-comfortable (there's no backrest), which I thought they could have afforded a bigger, plushier one. The closet and mini bar are tucked away along the corridor to the bedroom. A big plus, everything in the mini bar is complimentary, including wines and beers.
The million dollar-view from the balcony terrace.
Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses