With its five cool, contemporary villas situated amid the lush native bush, the Eagles Nest hotel sits on top of a private peninsula peering over the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Views are hypnotic at this North Island retreat where pampering equals private chefs, peaceful pools and a Porsche at your disposal. Explore beyond the property’s 75-acres to discover isolated beaches on one of the 144 nearby islands.
11am. Check-in, 2pm. Earlier arrivals can be arranged for 50 per cent of your nightly tariff.
Double rooms from $999.11 (NZ$1,561), excluding tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include breakfast, fruit, champagne and some minibar drinks.
Land the moment you start your holiday with a glass of something sparkling; you'll find a bottle of Louis Roederer champagne in your suite on arrival.
At the hotel
In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player, home cinema including Sky satellite, free WiFi, kitchen, minibar, deck with barbecue, Jacuzzi.
Our favourite rooms
One-bedroom villa First Light is most intimate for couples, but for wow factor we love panoramic Rahimoana Villa, which has four ensuite bedrooms, a fireplace, home cinema, bar and a 25-metre heated lap pool, as well as a Jacuzzi, sauna, gym and private beach. Rates include a dedicated concierge, well-stocked fridge and loan of a Porsche Cayenne Turbo (for an extra charge, unless you've booked drop-dead-amazing Rahimoana. The crisply contemporary blue and white interiors and modern art are gorgeous too.
Each villa has its own heated infinity-edge lap pool (except First Light which just has a Jacuzzi), surrounded by sleek, white day-beds and romantic lanterns for the evenings. But all have use of the estate's private, secluded beaches.
Your best Audrey Hepburn-style scarf to keep your hair at bay while you zoom around in the Porsche, a huge pair of sunglasses permanantly to hand and a pair of binoculars for dolphin, whale and kiwi spotting.
If you fancy getting fit after all that flopping around, bag some time with Eagles Nest's personal trainer (booked in advance), then relax with a beauty or massage treatment; extra charges apply for both. There are also free mountain bikes at your villa.
All ages welcome. Infant cots and highchairs are free if booked.
Children of all ages are welcome. Infant cots and high chairs are available free of charge if pre-booked.
Children of all ages are welcome at Eagle's Nest.
Children are welcome to join staff as they feed the wild native birds every morning at 8am, where they can hand-feed more than 100 birds from around five different species. Staff will also take little ones on a tour of the property on off-road utility buggies. Alternatively, borrow mountain bikes and go exploring.
Each villa comes with its own Jacuzzi or heated infinity-edged private pool. All pools have electronic security covers: parents with young children can press a button and their pool will be sealed by a floating cover.
Babysitting can be arranged (for an extra cost).
No need to pack
Infant cots and high chairs, which Eagle's Nest can provide for free if pre-booked. Pool toys are provided.
Villas are serviced daily with eco-friendly products and the resort recycles all bottles and paper. Guests can opt into energy and water conservation schemes.
It’s hard to beat eating outdoors on your own private deck, but Rahimoana’s sleek glass eight-seater dining table is our favourite indoors.
You’re surrounded by sleek style, so why not look the part? We suggest an Audrey Hepburn-style scarf to keep your hair tamed while you zoom around in the Porsche and a huge pair of sunglasses.
All villas are self-contained with a gourmet kitchen and each is provided daily with breakfast provisions. However, most guests forego DIY and make use of the resort's resident private chefs (even Jamie Oliver deserves a holiday), who will prepare anything you'd like. Book them more than 24 hours in advance to avoid one-on-one oven time. Freshly caught local fish, crayfish, lobster, venison and lamb are all on offer, so just sit back and enjoy. You can also bring in your own chefs if you wish (we're loving this lifestyle!). Eagles Nest has a comprehensive wine cellar with several thousand bottles of vino from around the globe to help wash it all down.
Rahimoana has its own bar – otherwise just dial the EN crew and drinks will be delivered; there’s no main bar.
Chefs, butlers and shoppers are on call. While this is a 'click your fingers and it appears' kinda place, some services must be booked 24 hours in advance; contact reception for more information.
Perched on the Tapeka tip of the Russell Peninsula, the spectacular Eagles Nest overlooks the pristine waters and forested islets of New Zealand’s breathe-taking Bay of Islands.
Bay of Islands/ Kerikeri Airport is the closest airport to the Eagles Nest. Fly to Auckland International Airport and then catch a direct connection to Kerikeri. Our Smith24 team of travel experts are on call round the clock to book your flights.
The Eagles Nest is a one hour drive from Kerikeri Airport. Our Smith24 team can arrange a rental car for you to pick up at the airport, but a hired Toyota Yaris might look a little lacklustre sitting next to the hotel’s Porsche Cayenne Turbo (which is available for guests’ use). Another option is to fly into Auckland and then drive north to Russell. The journey is a manageable three and a half hours that takes in the natural grandeur of New Zealand’s North Island.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you need a change of pace after relaxing in your villa, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained: cruise around the area in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, take the retreat's chopper to see the magnificent views of the Bay of Islands and then on to Kauri Cliffs for a round of golf, or the Bay is renowned for its water pursuits. Staff can advise you on everything from sea kayaking to parasailing, waterskiing, scuba diving, snorkelling, world-class deep sea and big game fishing as well as sailing and cruising throughout the many picture-perfect islands, bays and coves. With over 150 islands to explore, we doubt you'll get bored. Back on terra firma, bush walking, mountain biking and romantic picnics on your own private island are all in the offing. Russell, a five-minute drive from the hotel was New Zealand's first capital, and many of its pretty 19th-century houses still stand.
If you fancy a change from private dining in your villa, just a five-minute drive away the Duke of Marlborough Hotel (+64 9 403 7829) serves super oysters, chowder and bouillabaisse. Mosey over to The Gables (+64 9 403 7670) in Russell to dine on delicately falvoured dishes, such as citrus-cured kingfish, macadamia-crusted hapuka fillet and white-chocolate mousse with matcha ice-cream.
‘The name’s Smith… Mr Smith.’ We’ve just been shown to our villa at Eagles Nest and memories of the three hours of travel from Auckland have magically dissipated. It’s not hard to imagine why Mr Smith has gone all 007 on me. For the next few days, the two of us are staying in the Eyrie, a super-luxe, ultra-contemporary three-bedroom bolthole. There’s a home theatre, magnificent all-white bathroom, paintings by New Zealand artists and, best of all, an enormous deck with private infinity pool and Jacuzzi. Up to six people could stay here, but having this sort of space and privacy – we can’t hear any other noise or see evidence of other guests – feels pretty rock star.
Already Kelly has given us a tour of our digs, including the fully equipped kitchen and, most importantly, the fridge stocked with all types of delectables. She’s barely out the door when I crack open the bottle of complimentary champagne and tuck into the chocolate treats from the larder. She’s also recommended a spot in nearby Russell where we might find ourselves some dinner before having an early night. An hour or so later, we’ve plonked ourselves in front of the television and are unwrapping the spoils of our food run: piles of hot fish and chips. The catch of the day, according to the man in the chippie. I don’t recall – did James Bond ever kickback with a takeaway?
Jet-lag has Mr Smith up the next morning way too early for my liking, but my disappointment doesn’t last long. He’s opened the shutters and within seconds I am literally drooling. The sun is beating down and beyond the deck is a view that you could stare at for days: boats zip across the bay that is itself dotted with islands. I’m reminded of scenes of Jamaica in Live and Let Die. Palm trees line the sides of the deck, stopping anyone from seeing into our pool. We dive in but it’s a little chillier than anticipated, so Mr Smith and I quickly duck into the steaming Jacuzzi and stare out at that water. We’ve heard you can spot dolphins out there, so, on a whim, Mr Smith pops inside to call the Eagles Nest office and see if they can organise for us to go on a tour of the Bay of Islands. Not only is it possible, they say, but we can go this morning.
Having already collected passengers at Pahia, the boat stops at Russell to get us. The crew is extremely knowledgeable about the sea life in the area, but after 40 minutes we’ve yet to see a dolphin. Then a call comes in from another vessel: there’s a big pod of the mammals having their morning feed not far away. Within minutes we’ve spotted them and they put on a show, swimming alongside the boat and leaping acrobatically into the air. Everyone on the boat is beside themselves with excitement.
Heading out to our next spot, the Hole in the Rock, the weather turns and the boat starts to bob. ‘I think I’d rather be having breakfast in bed right about now,’ says Mr Smith, as we both start to feel decidedly green around the gills. The seas soon calm and we keep the contents of our stomachs where they belong, our nausea eclipsed by the scenes we’re being treated to.
Back on shore, we head to one of Russell’s waterfront cafés and indulge in some real comfort food: nachos for Mr Smith and a bacon and cheese toastie for me. Back at the villa, we decide to make the most of our five-star surrounds. I send Mr Smith up to the office to collect a copy of The Spy Who Loved Me from the DVD library – it seems strangely appropriate, perhaps minus the Russian submarines and nuclear warheads.
Unlike many of New Zealand’s luxury accommodation options, Eagles Nest doesn’t have a central lodge where guests can gather or have meals. It can, however, organise for a chef to whip you up a fine spread to enjoy in your villa. To make sure we didn’t miss out, Mr Smith organised all of this before we arrived. At 7.45pm, our personal chef Michael knocks on the door – we’ve already opened a bottle of bubbly – and he starts preparing our feast. We sup on starters of tiger prawns with citrus and rocket salad, and lamb and feta with roasted capsicum on crostini, followed by filet mignon served with portobello mushrooms, pommes Anna, roasted garlic and red wine jus (for Mr), and duck breast wrapped in prosciutto with roasted vegetables, baby potatoes and anise demi-glaze (for Mrs). Not only is he a great cook, but Michael is an amazing host, too. If only we could eat like this every night.
Having not made use of the amazing gadget-packed kitchen ourselves, the next morning Mr Smith and I decide to prepare an enormous departure breakfast (anything to delay leaving). Big servings of bacon and eggs, toast and juice are the perfect prelude to our upcoming drive. We grudgingly wave goodbye to our beautiful villa and its stunning subtropical setting. From behind the wheel of our tiny hire car, Mr Smith stares back with regret on his face and starts humming ‘Nobody Does It Better’. He’s right; we’ve never before experienced anything like Eagles Nest, and for a few days at least we got to live out enough Bond fantasies to last a lifetime.
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