Balanced on the shores of Lake Wakatipu looking out over the snow-capped mountain ranges of the Remarkables, Matakauri Lodge is in one of the most jaw-dropping locations in the southern hemisphere. Seven kilometres outside Queenstown, the hip adventure capital of New Zealand's South Island, the lodge has been reincarnated under the ownership of New York's Robertson family, who also own the luxury golf resorts Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers on the North Island.
What triggered my interest in Matakauri Lodge was an article I had read in a women’s magazine - the opening line said “it’s one of those rare places that exist because big-money billionaires sometimes have hobbies.” That article stuck with me and when the winter weather arrived, I booked a 3 night stay.
Upon arriving on the property, I could see what the author of that article had meant. We were greeted by staff who knew our names and whisked us off to our room without the need for paperwork or bell staff.
The phrase "a room with a view" doesn't quite cut it here. First of all, this isn't just a room, nor is it just a view. It's a cottage with a view that robs your breath. The bed was elevated up some stairs to accentuate the view (not that it needed to be accentuated any more). A mini bar stocked so we never needed to leave the room, a TV hidden behind a picture - very James Bond. So like a Bond girl, I slipped out of something and into the piece de resistance, an oversized tub with a window view of Lake Wakatipu.
The next morning over breakfast our conversation reverted to what we were going to do for the day. We had spotted a helicopter flying overhead. A staff member suggested he take us to the helipad for a scenic flight to the West Coast and perhaps a glacier on the way back.
If you are ever going to splurge on a helicopter ride, this is a great place to do it. The pilot flew us over the head waters of Lake Wakatipu and some vast inland sheep stations, over an inland pass and landed on a West Coast beach. We were then whisked away to land on a glacier beside an alpine lake where we could take photos. After our flight we arrived back to a lunch that was timed to perfection from the moment we landed back on the helipad.
Nothing seemed impossible for our 3 day stay in dream world. We never saw any staff, it was like fairies were replacing our fruit bowl each day or knowing that we were planning to head to the hot tub and leaving chocolates and champagne next to beautiful robes and slippers. It all made as feel like we could live like kings (or billionaires) forever.