Stonefly Lodge, New Zealand
What is it? The lodge, 70 kilometres from Nelson, on New Zealand's South Island, offers an escape into the wilderness, but one that comes with multiple creature comforts. The luxurious four-bedroom property sits on the banks of the Motueka River and is surrounded by rugged mountainous countryside.
Luxurious, you say? In a getting-away-from-it-all kind of way, yes. Downstairs, the open-plan design is centred on an enormous double-sided stone fireplace. There's a library, a snooker table, a bar area and a sun room. Upstairs, the four guest rooms are reminiscent of something you might find in a stone and timber mountain chalet, and include comfortable beds with soft duvets, matching hand-crafted writing desks and bedside tables, New Zealand art and balconies with views of pine-tree-covered mountains and the Motueka River. En-suite bathrooms have deep free-standing baths with separate rainforest showers. Power generation, water collection and waste management are handled onsite using a variety of eco-friendly techniques.
What is there to write home about? During the fly-fishing season, from October to April, this part of the South Island is alive with brown trout. The sun shines for more hours here than anywhere else in the country and the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. The lodge can arrange a private fishing guide for beginners and experienced anglers.
We'd go if we didn't have kids With four rooms and plenty of space, the layout of the lodge is perfect for families. Many of the activities, such as hiking, fishing and kayaking, are well suited to older children.
Don't tell us, the food isn't bad either Meals are prepared fresh, from locally sourced produce and vegetables from the lodge's garden, and served in the chandeliered dining room. You can have poached eggs for breakfast from the lodge's chickens, with bacon and freshly baked bread. The cellar has top quality wines, including labels from boutique wineries in the Nelson region.
Would we go back? The fishing is so good that keen anglers will want to return. And if fishing is not your bag, there'll be plenty of things to do that you didn't manage the first time. With three national parks - Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi- nearby, the lodge can be used as a base from which to hike, kayak and nature cruise. There's a landing pad here and among the helicopter tours offered there's one of the filming sites for The Lord of the Rings. Entire days can be spent visiting galleries and workshops of the many artists in the area.
What's the bottom line? Rates start from NZ$290 (HK$1,700) per person, per night, twin share (May 1 until August 31) and NZ$525 in the high season (September 1 to April 30). That includes breakfast, canapes and a three-course dinner. Guided fishing for two people costs NZ$745 a day.