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Before heading for Auckland, I spent a few days in the region called Bay of Islands, in the northern part of New Zealand. This region is known for its beaches, beautiful bays, as well as its rich history, as this is where you will find the earliest Maori and British settlements. The Bay of Islands has the warmest temperatures and some of the best weather in New Zealand. The region is very popular during the summer months in the southern hemisphere, December to early March. A few highlights in this region:

  • The Waitangi Treaty Grounds. If you visit only one historical site in New Zealand, this is the one to see. Waitangi is where the treaty was signed between the Maori chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. The treaty grounds are part of a large 1000+ acre estate that include a museum, the home of British representative of the crown, a fully carved Maori meeting house, the  largest Maori ceremonial war canoes, and the naval flagstaff which marks the spot where the treaty was signed. Don’t miss visiting the Museum, which gives you a good overview of New Zealand’s history, and what the Waitangi treaty has meant through the years, as well as a performance by Maori singers and dancers within the Meeting House, best preserved in the country.  
  • Waipoua Forest. Located on the west coast near the town of Waimamaku, this stretch of native forest is home to New Zealand’s massive Kauri Trees, which originally covered most of the country. Don’t miss visiting Tane Mahuta, the name of the tallest Kauri tree, about 150 feet tall and more than 1,000 years old – a beloved national landmark.
  • Russell. This historic town was the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand. Take time to wander around the town and see New Zealand’s oldest church and first stone buildings.
  • Bay of Islands. This beautiful area features over 150 islands and countless harbors. If you have time, arrange for a sailing trip to explore hidden coves and great vistas.

Where to stay? In the far north, the #1 place to stay is The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, one of three Robertson Lodges in New Zealand. The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is a destination unto itself, set on a beautiful 6,000 acre estate. The lodge is a Signature preferred property and a member of Luxury Lodges of New Zealand.The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is best known for its outstanding golf course, considered one of the 50 top courses in the world. You don’t have to be a golfer to stay here, but – half of the guests on property play golf at some point of their stay. The main lodge is designed like an elegant plantation home, complete with verandas, fireplaces, various living and dining areas, as well as the reception. Service and dining are excellent, and delivered by a team of professionals. Here are my notes, which I wanted to share with you:

The setting: Kauri Cliffs is world of its own and very special. Green rolling hills leading to the sea. Beautiful stretches of virgin forest with its own waterfall, as well as a giant kauri tree hidden in the wilderness. High above the ocean, the famous golf course, as far as the eye can see. Three beaches on property, including Pink Beach – my favorite.

Accommodations: The resort offers 22 spacious one-bedroom suites, as well as a two-bedroom family cottage. This November 2019, the property will open its new, 4,000 square feet,  four-bedroom residences, each with 4.5 bathrooms, pool, and plenty of space, as well as a dedicated team to look after guests. The suites are enormous, with large dressing areas and bathrooms, and a comfortable bedroom with fireplace and sitting area. Every accommodation has a terrace, with views of the estate and the ocean in the distance. Décor is classic, comfortable, stylish, welcoming.

Facilities: Besides the main Lodge, the property has an infinity swimming pool, a large spa, tennis courts, and of course, the Par 72 championship golf course.

Activities: You need a week to see and do everything on property. During their stay, guests can enjoy horseback riding, kayaking, sea walks, quad biking, fishing, surfing, a tour of the farm, swimming in the ocean. For those in a hurry or who do not want to walk, the lodge has its own helicopter, to whisk you from A to B in a matter of minutes.

Insider advice:

  • Make Kauri Cliffs your first or last stop in New Zealand. The lodge can also pick up guests at Auckland airport for the hour-long transfer to the resort.
  • The nearest airport is Kerikeri (KKE) about 30 minutes’ drive.
  • The lodge can arrange a picnic lunch at the beach, which is very special
  • Have dinner in one of three private dining rooms at the main lodge for an intimate, memorable experience.
  • Don’t miss the weekly barbeque on Pink Beach on Friday nights 
  • The property is closed from the last week of June to first week of August
  • Book way ahead as this is one of the most sought-after lodges in New Zealand – especially during high season (December to March).
  • The property is perfect for every traveler- couples, singles, families,honeymooners, friends traveling together. The property is vast and there is plenty of room to ensure everyone feels at home and can have a great stay.
  • Spend at least one day on property to enjoy all that Kauri Cliffs has to offer. 

Courtesy of IGNACIO MAZA / Signet