The Landing Residences is tucked away on 1,000 acres in the Bay of Islands and flanked by an award-winning vineyard. The just-secluded-enough spot has four individually designed villas, six private beaches and its own yacht (hop on: an island tour is included with your stay). There's no restaurant, but the hotel’s chef can prepare all your in-villa meals if you'd rather sip the wine than cook with it. And more active types can traverse the property's hiking and mountain biking trails, borrow kayaks and head off for snorkelling sessions in the glittering bay. Whether you're getting away, just the two of you, or have the whole family in tow, this boutique stay has a home-from-home for you.
10am; earliest check-in, 2pm. There’s no reception – you’ll check in at your villa.
Double rooms from £4017.64 (NZ$7,800), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include breakfast and dinner by The landing chef and a lunch platter or picnic hamper.
Pick up some culinary skills from the Landing chefs with a private cookery lesson. Achey? In-villa massages can be arranged on request.
At the hotel
Six private beaches, a vineyard, gym with hammam, tennis courts, basketball court, hiking trails, gear to borrow – mountain bikes (and helmets), snorkelling kit, fishing rods and paddleboards. In rooms: Sky TV, fully equipped kitchen, barbecue grill, free WiFi and daily housekeeping.
Our favourite rooms
You can’t go wrong with any of the four luxury residences, but we have a soft spot for the Boathouse, right by the edge of Wairoa Bay and geared towards enjoying the outdoors. If you’re after evenings by an alfresco fire, this is the residence for you; your chef can probably even gather up s’more-making goodies.
Bring your effortlessly elegant swimwear, boots made for long tramps around the grounds and an appreciation for New Zealand grapes.
The downstairs bedroom in the Boathouse is the best choice for less mobile guests, but the bathroom is not adapted for wheelchair users.
Welcome: each residence has a private lawn and terraces for little Smiths to run around. Need cots and beds for little Smiths? Request when booking (they're free, subject to availability). There’s also one resident pushchair and two car seats to borrow.
Construction materials were locally sourced, where possible, and all produce is grown in the onsite gardens and orchards or locally sourced. The hotel participates in native planting with Rangihoua Heritage Park and Marsden Trust and a Kiwi recovery program in conjunction with Department of Conservation.
There are no designated dining areas, so take your pick of outdoor terraces, gardens, your dining room and even the jetty – the world is (where you can eat) your oyster.
Make yourself at home (but leave the naked-chef antics to self-catered meals).
There’s no restaurant here; instead, you can choose from options ranging from self-catering to full-time private chef (for NZ$600 a person a day). Dream up your ideal holiday menu with the chef – all ingredients are grown onsite or locally sourced; in season, you can even catch your own fish or go diving for crayfish and scallops in the nearby coves. If you opt for the fully catered option, the Landing’s chef will whip up your breakfasts and dinners and leave a daily prepared lunch in your residence that you can tuck into whenever you’d like. If you go for the self-catering route, you’ll choose what you’d like to prepare, provisions will be provided and you can make up meals in your private kitchen or on your barbecue terrace whenever you’d like. Midnight macaroni? Check. Breakfast for dinner? No problem.
None, but with an onsite vineyard, there’s not much chance of you getting parched; you’ll even find a few gratis bottles of vino in your residence.
Fixed meal times? Bah! With a private chef on hand, a snack is just a chat away.
It doesn’t get more room-servicier than having meals whipped up in your villa by your private chef.
The Landing is at the southwestern tip of the Purerua Peninsula in the Bay of Islands, in the far north of New Zealand’s North Island.
Kerikeri airport is 35 minutes away by car; transfers are included with your stay. The closest major airport is in Auckland – four hours away by car or an hour-long flight to the Bay of Islands.
Free parking is available at each of the residences; if you plan to explore beyond the property, your own set of wheels will come in handy.
Popping over by chopper? It’s a 55-minute flight from Auckland to the onsite helipad; you’ll be greeted by a member of staff, who will drive them to their residence. Charter boat more your style? Dock at the Landing jetty, by prior arrangement.
Worth getting out of bed for
There are six private beaches onsite, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun and splash in the waves. Keen to glide over the water? Borrow the Landing’s paddleboards or kayaks and take to the waves. Walking and hiking tracks crisscross the property – there are some for mountain biking, too (and bikes to borrow if you’re up for it). And, horse riding is available year-round. See the sights, including ganet and seal colonies, by sea from the Landing’s luxury yacht Iti Rangi, which tours around the Bay of Islands (the joy ride is included with your stay). Parched after all that sea-based adventure? Ask for a show ‘round of the Landing’s vineyards. Some of New Zealand’s best golf is down the road at Waitangi Golf Club, a PGA-tournament–quality Carrington course, and the dramatic Kauri Cliffs Golf Course, which is just five minutes away by helicopter or 40 minutes by car. Chopper your way to glow-worm caves and ancient kauri forests in under an hour, or just buzz above the 144 islands on sight-seeing flight. If you prefer terra firma to the great blue yonder, set out on a leisurely hike on the Marsden Cross Track; suitable even for young Smiths, the track leads across farmland to the site of New Zealand’s first mission settlement. History buff? Check out the Waitangi Treaty Grounds for a dose of Maori culture and history. In search of golden sands? The beaches of Otehei Bay and Urupukapuka Island are particularly pretty. The Bay of Islands is famous for its game fish, spectacular snorkelling and scuba diving and, between November and April, the chance to spot dolphins, whales and penguins.
With a private chef on hand and your own in-residence kitchen, there’s no need to venture beyond the Landing when hunger strikes. But if you’re itching to venture further afield, Marsden Estate in Kerikeri dishes out decadent breakfasts fluffy ciabatta topped with creamy mushrooms and poached eggs or streaky bacon and pesto. If you find yourself in Russell – perhaps after a visit to the nearby Waitangi Treaty Grounds – stop for lunch at Hone’s Garden and settle in for wood-fired pizzas, Orongo Bay oysters and pineapple-salsa-topped fish tacos. Book ahead for dinner at The Gables (also in Russell), where prettily plated dishes of whole snapper and smoked lamb rump take centre stage. Start with an order of olive oil-drizzled burrata and save room for decadent crème brulee and a liquor-laced affogato.
If you’ve ever found yourself wishing for your own wine estate in some far-flung locale, then New Zealand’s gastronomic hideaway the Landing Residences might be your best bet for living out the fantasy, at least for a few nights.
While I knew I had booked a highly luxurious property for the weekend, neither myself nor Mrs Smith were quite prepared for just how spoiling our break would be. But first, a bit about our New Zealand adventure… For those who have driven in New Zealand, you will commiserate about the surprising frequency with which paved roads devolve to gravel paths. The bumpy rides earnt me more than one questioning glance from Mrs Smith on our drive up from Auckland, but I assured her that we were in for a lovely weekend and that my driving skills were more than adequate. This was met with an eye roll and a sigh, but all was forgiven as we pulled up to the private gate of the Landing Residences.
The property is seductively hidden from prying eyes in the sort of fresh green stretch New Zealand has in abundance; however, the 15-metre sculpture of a silver Maori oar that greets us signals that this is no ordinary stay. We were promptly greeted by our personal concierge and led down to our hideaway (one of just four onsite), the Boathouse. While the name sounds fairly pedestrian, the property is anything but, with a sprawling living room, indoor-outdoor kitchen, patio reaching out over the bay and views across the sparkling Pacific. Mrs Smith is originally a Southern California girl, so any hotel located on a body of water is deemed acceptable. Within a few minutes, she had a glass of the Landing’s own chardonnay in hand and was curled up next to a roaring fire, gazing out across the bay. Eye rolls no more.
Once settled, our personal concierge ran us through our new home’s features, pointing out pertinent details, such as the spotlights illuminating a seven-metre war canoe hanging from the ceiling. Dark local wood and stone gave the Boathouse a masculine feel that perfectly complements the traditional Maori longhouse design (an architectural thread that runs through every building on the property) – it’s comfortable and luxuriously appointed, and designed with a refreshing sense of provenance in mind.
We have a private boat tour on the Landing’s vessel (the Iti Rangi), plus a wine tasting, privately cooked chef’s dinner and an evening kiwi-spotting tour (also private) all scheduled for the following day, so Mrs Smith and I responsibly knocked back just one bottle of chardonnay before retiring. Our Saturday flew by in the best ways possible: the boat tour not only showed us the Bay of Islands, but introduced us to wild mako sharks, fur seals, and – to Mrs Smith’s personal delight – petite blue penguins. The hotel is certainly wish-fulfilling and beautifully designed, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Landing is how at ease the staff make you feel. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and there’s a laidback pace, all of which make it easy to detach from the day-to-day of email and phones. This restfulness and cosseting carried through our tour of the property, the wine tasting back in the Boathouse, and our private dinner.
A word on the dinner: I consider myself a cosmopolitan individual and have travelled a fair bit of the world, but a private dinner cooked by a professional chef in my home (at least for the night) was a new level of luxury. To start, we were led out to the outdoor patio, where a fire had been lit, for glasses of wine and amuse-bouches (some local cheese and homemade crackers). After a few glasses, we were ushered back into our own kitchen, which had been magically transformed into a candle-illuminated dining room for two. Yet another fire had been lit to set the mood, and the table was laden with local New Zealand bounty. The amount of food Mrs Smith and I consumed is slightly embarrassing in hindsight, but we do have an American stereotype to satisfy. Two courses of local oysters (both raw and fried, with the lightest Japanese-inspired tempura), a decadent côte de boeuf with Bordelaise sauce, and a food-coma-inducing molten chocolate cake stood with the best of the meals we’d had on our three-week New Zealand escapade. The chocolate cake proved to be the coup de grâce for Mrs Smith, so she curled up next to the fire with yet another glass of syrah (yes, wine was our theme for the weekend), as I geared up for a nighttime kiwi spotting tour.
These adorable cartoonish birds are incredibly rare and not easy to spot in the wild, so I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to see them in their natural habitat. My guide for the evening was a jovial groundskeeper who drove us to the edge of the property in an off-road vehicle. It wasn’t long before the kiwi’s distinctive call rang out. We ventured further along the myriad walking paths and spotted four of the sweet little guys running for cover. With that, I’d ticked off every box for the day. I walked back past the dying embers of the fire on the patio, listening to the waves gently crash against the shore in the background, and felt comforted that magic, though elusive, still exists in some parts of the world.