Worth getting out of bed for
Whether you’re into keeping fit or just chilling out, there are plenty of activities here to suit your mood. The twin jewels in Kauri Cliffs' crown are golf and the spa, both of which are state of the art. The vast, rolling par 72 championship golf course offers five sets of tees to suit all levels, with 18 holes boasting views of the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside plunging cliffs by the sea (so watch where you hit that ball). The inland holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland, making the most of the magnificent setting. There’s also a world-class practice range, putting and chipping greens, locker rooms and a golf shop, with Callaway clubs for rent. Two tennis courts await if you prefer larger targets or clay pigeon shooting for moving ones.
If you’d rather be pampered, the tranquil, modern spa is nestled at the edge of a Totara forest, overlooking a verdant fern glen and winding stream. Each sleekly designed treatment room has its own shower and changing area, with floor-to-ceiling views outdoors and a private al fresco space where guests can enjoy garden-inspired therapies (by the fire if it's chilly). Treatments include massage, reflexology, facials, pedicures and manicures, with a tea, massage essence, elixir and diffusion oil prepared specially for you. New Zealand’s mud, minerals, crystals, stones and shells all feature in the well-being rituals which can be enjoyed alone or a deux if you book in for a couple’s massage. There’s also a sauna, Jacuzzi spa pool, heated indoor lap pool (surrounded by pretty foliage) and fitness centre on hand. If you want more privacy, you can order spa treatments in your suite for 20 per cent extra.
Further afield, you can partake in aquatic activities including sailing around the Bay of Islands, world-famous game fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming with dolphins.
For landlubbers, staff can arrange riding, sand dune surfing, romantic picnics and scenic walks around the hotel’s grounds and working farm, varying from 10 minute strolls to longer, 2-hour treks, taking in a nearby waterfall, a 700-year-old Kauri tree and secluded surf and pink shell beaches. You can even hunt for possums or wild boar if you feel an Asterix moment coming on. Guided tours of the regions natural and cultural highlights include trips to the North Island's famous Ninety Mile Beach, Tane Mahuta (a famous aged Kauri tree), Doubtless Bay, the Puketi Kauri Forest, Rainbow Falls, Haruru Falls, historic Russell and the Waitangi Treaty House, for fans of Maori history. Helicopter flights will also help you make the most of the lodge’s stunning seaside setting.
Right on the waterfront at pretty nearby Pahia, Kava (+64 9 402 6199), at 78–94 Marsden Road, is worth a visit for its tasty Pacific Rim dishes with European and Asian influences. Overlooking Motumaire Island, it also has a handy adjoining deli for picking up freshly baked treats, great coffee or a picnic. TSample top local wines at award-winning Marsden Estate (+64 9 407 9398; www.marsdenestate.co.nz), at Wiroa Road in Kerikeri. Relax afterwards over lunch in the vineyard restaurant, where estate-grown wines are matched with everything from Thai curry to chargrilled lamb.