About an hour north of Auckland, Matakana is an eclectic coastal town that attracts city slickers with its bohemian food, wine, and arts scene. With only four lodge rooms situated on a working vineyard near the entrance to the gorgeous Takatu Peninsula, Takatu Lodge offers a peaceful respite that combines beach and bush with art and wine. Two ocean-facing suites take in panoramas of Hauraki Gulf, while the upstairs suites overlook vineyards, a small ocean inlet, and the omnipresent farmland. All of them feature vaulted wood ceilings, slide-away doors, double-occupancy bathtubs, paintings by local artists, and private balconies made for enjoying an alfresco breakfast or a glass of wine as the sun goes down. Guests receive a bottle of Takatu rosé on arrival along with a New Zealand cheese board. Rooms are also stocked with yoga mats, fresh juice, locally roasted coffee, Bennetts chocolates, house-baked “biscuits” (cookies), and a take-home candle whose scent matches the one in the bathroom.
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Matakana is a favorite holiday destination for Kiwis and foreigners. Summer is busy, but the beaches are virtually deserted in the shoulder seasons when they’re still friendly to swimmers. More than 32 vineyards producing such Bordeaux-style wine varietals as malbec, merlot, and pinot gris inhabit the region; Brick Bay Wines is studded with some 50 sculptures made by emerging and established New Zealand artists. There are also several art galleries in town, including a pottery café as well as myriad artisan food producers. Whangaripo Buffalo Cheese Company makes some of the best blue cheese around, and Stubbs Village Butchery crafts unique sausages—lamb and mint perhaps? After lunch or a stroll through the Saturday farmers' market, travelers can hike, surf, snorkel, sail, horseback ride, or cycle off their meal.
Need to Know
Rooms: 4 luxury rooms. From $390. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options:A breakfast buffet is served every morning in the main lodge, and a lunch or dinner platter of local and homemade produce can be requested in advance. A number of lovely cafés and restaurants are five minutes away; the Vintry is a favorite local wine bar. The lodge works with a local taxi driver so the car-less and the wine tasters are covered. Spa and gym details:An independent masseuse offers treatments in-room. Otherwise, the vineyard-view tubs, equipped with handmade bath crystals and candles, might as well be a spa. There’s a gym about five minutes away, and bikes can be rented in town for those who wish to ride one of the area’s many trails.
Who's it best for: Wine and art lovers looking to escape the city. Our favorite rooms: All the rooms offer the same 500-thread-count sheets and waffle blankets, pitched blond-wood ceilings, and standout minibar treats. The only difference is the view, with the upstairs options earning a slight edge. Good to know: The contemporary sandstone-and-wood main lodge is a beautiful place to enjoy a meal, a book, or a bottle of wine. The best spot in the house to relax is actually outside, next to the brick fireplace draped in ivy.