The finer things in life

With its rolling hills and tranquil waterways, the Hamilton & Waikato region offers the perfect setting for indulgence and luxury. The number of establishments in the region operating at the top end of the market is growing to meet demand, making the most of being easy to access but far from the madding crowd.

Te aroha mineral spa, Te Aroha, Waikato, NZ

Five-star luxury accommodation includes hidden gems tucked away around the region. A cluster of high-end lodges are grouped around the boutique-style town of Cambridge. They include the secluded Lake Karapiro Lodge and Henley Hotel, on Maungatautari Rd. Guests at each are close to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and the still waters of Lake Karapiro. On the other side of the town is Huntington Stables beside the Maungakawa Scenic Reserve, its name a nod to the thoroughbred industry that is based here.

Meanwhile, on the west coast, Raglan’s five-star Waoku Lodge was named in the US’ Travel and Leisure magazine’s list of best affordable beach resorts, one of only 40 worldwide and the only one from New Zealand. The luxury lodge overlooking Whale Bay also operates the Moana Day Spa.

There is plenty more luxury B&B-style accommodation spread around the region, including the likes of Matangi Oaks outside Hamilton and Thornton House, Cambridge. Also in Cambridge is the old-English style Church on Church Road. The charming villa was once a country church and has now been lovingly restored as bed and breakfast accommodation. Further South, Kamahi Cottage between Waitomo and Otorohanga is a five-star authentic yet luxurious farm stay cottage with stunning views over the countryside, nestled amongst countryside gardens for a private and romantic getaway.

When it comes to pampering, Waoku’s Moana Day Spa is one of several around the region. Perhaps the best known is the highly rated Waters Day Spa in Hamilton overlooking the Waikato River. Treatments are also available, along with a soak in a natural soda spa pool, at the picturesque Te Aroha Mineral Spa in Te Aroha. Adding to the mix is Lime Spa in both Hamilton and Raglan, and Le Papillon Day Spa outside Cambridge.

Local restaurants making waves in Hamilton City, along with Palate, a consistent award winner in the New Zealand Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards. Close by in the CBD are other top ranking restaurants including Chim Choo Ree, while Zinc cooks up a culinary storm in the suburbs.

To complement the fine dining and accommodation are a number of unique activities. In Hamilton, a helicopter or hot air balloon ride will create an unforgettable experience with magical views over the Waikato River, Lake Karapiro, Mt Pirongia and the rolling green countryside. Near the coastal town of Raglan, Magic Mountain Horse Treks is situated 1000 feet above sea level providing panoramic views across harbours and mountains. The sunset and sunrise treks are perfect for a special occasion as is the ride to the 55m high Bridal Veil Falls.