A short drive north of Queenstown, on the winding shores of Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge is set amid lush forest with striking mountain views.
Fly into Queenstown Airport on NZ's South Island, approximately 20 minutes' drive from Matakauri. Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Qantas operate daily flights from major domestic cities Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, with Pacific Blue offering twice-weekly services. Direct international services are also available from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia.
It's just a seven minute drive from downtown Queenstown to the lodge if you've picked up your own wheels (the airport offers hire-car facilities). Parking is free at Matakauri.
The lodge can arrange helicopter transfers, price on request, and can advise on charter flights.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you are in a Deluxe Suite with the bed positioned with a full-frontal view, you don’t even need to get out of bed. Just open your eyes, then take a deep breath before it’s taken away by the awe-inspiring view.
For those who prefer to stay close to home at Matakauri, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing and a personalised day tour of Lake Wakatipu on the 1930s luxury yacht are all at your doorstep. The restaurant can arrange a picnic and drinks for all excursions.
For guests who golf, there’s access to the private Hills Course, home to the the 2007 New Zealand Open, and the scenically blessed Jacks Point, on the other side of Lake Wakatipu. But for those seeking thrills and spills, pulses will race at the thought of what New Zealand’s adventure capital has to offer – skiing (and heli skiing), jetboating, bungy jumping, mountain biking (and heli biking), horseriding, helicopter flights, canyoning and rock climbing. The snowfields open from June 5 and close in October, with six fields within a comfortable drive from Queenstown; the closest being Coronet Peak.)
The Dart River is a must for soaking up the scenery – choose the Wilderness Safari over the Funyak Safari. The Shotover is more of a thrill ride – the kind that whirls you full throttle into a rock face, only to turn away at the last minute. You'll be on an adrenaline high for hours after a bungy jump, or try the Nevis Arc, the world’s highest swing – with six options, you can pick your poison.
Queenstown has developed a vast number of mountain bike trails, many of which are easily accessible from town, but to get the most out of your experience book a guided trip with Greg McIntyre of Fat Tyre. If you are on limited time, bag one of the heli trips for four to five hours or the full day.
Louisa 'Choppy' Patterson’s is a helicopter pilot and guide with the motto: 'Your itinerary is limited only by your imagination'. High praise has been given to the Milford Ultimate, which takes you over the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, Lake Te Anau and the famous Milford Track and the Sounds. Chill your champagne with ice from the glacier and have lunch in the mountains at a goldminer's cottage. Visit www.flynz.co.nz for an impressive choice of trips or contact Choppy for a tailored tour.
If you’ve never been to Paradise… it’s time to pack in as many spectacular lake and alpine views as you can and drive there. Grab your camera and coast from Matakauri to Glenorchy for wild views up the Dart Valley to the imposing Mt Earnslaw. After the small township of Glenorchy, Paradise awaits at the end of the road. As the sign says: 'Glenorchy - closer to Paradise than Queenstown'. The National Parks of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland offer some of New Zealand’s most scenic walking tracks.
The charm of Arrowtown is also a must – its stone buildings and cobblestone streets are beautifully preserved from its gold rush days. Even the cinema, Dorothy Browns, has character.
Amisfield is the hallmark of chic regional dining and booking is essential. It’s both restaurant and winery and their wines are excellent. Choose from small place, daily specials or the 'Trust the Chef Men'.
There's a French twist to the alpine village of Queenstown, and Solero Vino ([email protected]), which is charming, intimate and unassuming, serves reliably good French-style fare.
Botswana Butchery (17 Marine Parade, Queenstown; +64 3 442 6994) is currently closed due to a fire but it will be worth a visit when it reopens in late November. It has earned a reputation for quality – yep, meat dishes – and its lighter menu options.
It's not a café, but for those who have a compulsion to peruse the supermarkets shelves when they travel internationally, the Raeward Supermarket is where you’ll find a premium selection of New Zealand and international artisan produce, fresh produce, deli goods and cheeses, ideal for takeaways or picnics.
For yet more perfect views, Eichardt’s (www.eichardtsbar.com) delivers these and more from the charm of an old stone dwelling. The house bar has had a staunch presence since 1867 and sets a sophisticated tone in contemporary Queenstown. Surfaces to about knee-height are water-resistant due to the occasional tide that washes in higher than is traditionally comfortable. The menu dominates with fresh flavours featuring organic produce.