From glamping to five star hotels, cute B&Bs, historic buildings, luxury lodges, and everything in between, here is some of the best New Zealand unique accommodation. Whether you prefer to travel like the Queen or your love of weekend getaways is larger than your wallet, there is an unusual New Zealand accommodation option to make your holiday dreams come true.
There is no formal check-in process when you stay in the glass-walled Kahutara PurePod. Simply park your car and it’s a 10 minute bushwalk to your own little piece of paradise. The luxury two-person cabin has views of the rugged Seaward Kaikōura Mountain Range, a glass roof and three glass walls with sliding doors plus an outdoor deck. Even the shower and toilet have glass floors and glass walls (don’t worry, no one will see you, you’re surrounded by pristine wilderness). If the weather is good, you can star gaze from the bed or open up the PurePod, surround yourself with nature and let the sunshine in.
The Jailhouse, Christchurch
Heading to Christchurch? Go to jail, go directly to jail. Budget conscious travellers will want to lock themselves up and throw away the key at The Jailhouse hostel which operated as a prison from the late 1800s to 1999. Décor is light and bright and just like a real jail, it’s ‘lights out’ (ie. no partying) after 9pm so everyone gets a good night’s sleep. There is a kitchen for cooking affordable meals and all rooms have share facilities and comfy beds with crisp white sheets. Doubles start at just $58 per night and families are welcome.
Olivers Lodge & Stables, Clyde
Olivers Lodge once operated as a thriving general store, selling all kinds of goods to prospectors who passed through Clyde to make their fortunes on the goldfields. These days the atmospheric stone building offers boutique accommodation in heritage surrounds and is home to one of the region’s best restaurants. Antique maps line the hallway and period furnishings and rough-hewn stone walls connect guests to the lodge’s history. The Coach House room is particularly atmospheric, with tones of rich mulberry and a sweet outdoor courtyard for soaking up the sweet scent of flowers from the cottage garden.
The Boot, Tasman
Do you remember the rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do? She would have loved The Boot. Not just because this couple’s retreat is shaped like a fairy tale hobnail boot, but because it only sleeps two people. She could have left the kids at home and enjoyed well-earned getaway with her man. With its sweet Juliet balcony, dreamy bedroom, fluffy bathrobes and courtyard bursting with spring blooms, The Boot is delightfully quirky and romantic. It’s also perfectly placed for exploring nearby Nelson and the wild beauty of Abel Tasman National Park.
Passage Hut, Pepin Island
Just 30 minutes north of Nelson you’ll find Pepin Island, home to a picturesque working farm and three rustic solar powered huts. The outdoor bathtub at Passage Hut, the farm’s newest cabin, offers stunning views of Delaware Bay and Pepin Island spit. Spend your days exploring the secluded beach near your accommodation, wildlife spotting and discovering the many secret lookouts dotted around the property. Summer is the perfect time to visit as the huts aren’t heated and longer days provide plenty of time for tramping. It’s possible to stay at each hut and hike between them, making the most of the stunning scenery and sunny weather.
River Ridge, Wanaka
Overlooking the Southern Alps, you’ll find this rustic yet oh-so-luxurious log house on the banks of the Clutha River. With six bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a state-of-the-art kitchen, it’s ideal for a multigenerational holiday with family or friends and all the trimmings. There is plenty of space for kids to run around, a separate living area for the grown-ups and trout fishing from the banks of the Clutha River. If your tribe gets rowdy, there is no need to worry about annoying the neighbours thanks to the secluded location. It’s hard to believe Wanaka is less than 15 minutes away by car when you’re surrounded so much natural beauty.
QT Wellington, Wellington
QT Wellington is a funky art hotel that’s a feast for the senses and the soul. Located directly across the road from New Zealand’s premier museum, guests can view stunning works at Te Papa or wander the hotel to experience everything from surrealism and sculpture to shiny Italian racing bikes. Accommodation choices range from plush hotel rooms to self-contained executive apartments with harbour views. Most of Wellington’s top sights and attractions are an easy walk from this centrally located hotel on the waterfront.
The Convent, Auckland
There’s no need to take a vow of poverty to stay at this brand new boutique hotel which once housed a community of nuns. Accommodation at The Convent starts at just $139 per night and come with a $50 dining voucher if you book direct. Top room choices include The Nuns Repose with its cute private balcony or the Sisters Quarters which comes with an extra bed. If you enjoy historic hotels and immersing yourself in the local community on holiday, this charming hotel in Grey Lynn is the answer to your prayers.
The Glasshouse at Taiharuru, Whangarei Heads
Couples will revel in the seclusion and romance of The Glasshouse, an adults-only clifftop retreat tucked away at the end of a remote Northland peninsula. Activities include swimming in natural rock pools, fishing, diving or soaking up 180 degree views from a hammock. One look at the divine outdoor bathroom and you probably won’t want to leave, but nearby Bream Head Scenic Reserve is worth the effort with fabulous walks and stellar scenery.
Hobbit Motel, Otorohanga
Thankfully you don’t need to be three feet tall to stay at the Hobbit Motel. Built into the side of a hill, this quirky family-friendly accommodation option is much bigger than it looks from the outside. There is a master suite with a queen bed, a separate bedroom with four oversized single beds for young Hobbitses, plus a kitchenette and living area. There’s also an outdoor barbeque. Combine your stay with a visit to Waitomo Glowworm Caves or a tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set and you’ve got the perfect weekend away.
Kokohuia Lodge, Omapere
Overlooking the pristine waters of Hokianga Harbour and the shimmering sands of distant dunes, this eco-lodge proves there’s no need to rough it when it comes to travelling responsibly. Even better, you’ll have the entire lodge all to yourself as Kokohuia Lodge only welcomes one couple at a time. There’s a free-standing double bath with panoramic views and nights can be spent star gazing before you snuggle into the soft-as-a-cloud king size bed. Mornings begin with fruit, yoghurt and cereals and a cooked breakfast made with locally sourced produce that is delivered to your room so you can enjoy breakfast in bed.
The Rees Hotel, Queenstown
The Rees Hotel, a luxury hotel located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, has superb views and is home to a sophisticated wine lounge and one of Queenstown’s best restaurants. While the hotel rooms are lovely, The Rees Lakeside Residences take this hotel to the next level. Each self-contained residence comes with a ‘Luxury Travel Curator’ who is on hand throughout your stay to cater to your every whim. It’s a picturesque 30 minute walk into town or you can hire bikes from reception or catch the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus. There are plenty of other great things to do in Queenstown as well.
Waitomo Hilltop Glamping, Hangatiki
There is no electricity at Waitomo Hilltop Glamping but you still get to enjoy the comforts of a luxe hotel. The ensuite bathroom comes with an indoor shower and flushing toilet and you can soak away your cares in twin gas-heated outdoor bathtubs and enjoy the view as you sip a glass of pinot noir. There’s a complimentary s’mores kit for toasting marshmallows over the firepit before you whip up dinner in a pizza oven using fresh organic herbs. Eggs from the onsite farm and homemade bread are also included in the tariff and hit the spot for breakfast.
Huka Lodge, Taupo
Huka Lodge near Taupo feels more like a (very wealthy) friend’s place than a hotel, with cosy furnishings and thoughtful touches that invite you to relax. This once simple fishing lodge is now anything but with guest rooms featuring monogrammed linen and elegant French doors overlooking the mighty Waikato River. Activities range from relaxing in front of the fireplace to trout fishing from the Lodge’s rolling green lawn. Rods and hearty encouragement from the staff are free of charge.
The Lighthouse, Island Bay
Gaze out to sea from this three-storey apartment inside a lighthouse. Located 15 minutes’ drive from the Wellington CBD, The Lighthouse has a sitting room with a balcony and wrap around views on the top floor. It’s the perfect spot to curl up with a book and listen to the sound of the ocean as you watch the waves. The bedroom is located on the second floor and you’ll find a kitchen and bathroom downstairs. If you’re feeling energetic, don’t miss the half-day return coastal walk from the lighthouse to the Red Rocks seal colony.
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