By far our favorite lodge was Glen Aros in Hawkes Bay. The country estate was built in 1914 and is located in a breathtakingly beautiful setting with all of the luxuries: billiards room, pool, hot tub, impressive gardens, a wonderful hostess, and a personal chef (with Michelin star connections).
While this property is a bit farther out than others (drive 10k past the nearest lodge to get there), the only neighbors you'll hear in the evenings are sheep on the green hills around the estate. I took a 30 minute power walk both days we were there and had to stop to admire the roses, Golden Finches flying in and out of the fruit trees, and beautiful, fragrant herbs.
Nigel (the chef) estimates that the Rosemary bush above has been in the garden for perhaps 100 years. He doesn't clip from this one but just lets it grow. We were in New Zealand in the early Summer this year and all of the roses were beautifully in bloom! I definitely stopped to smell the them...
I'm kicking myself for not taking photos of the lovely food served but the chef was highly talented. He baked his own bread, made the type of sauces and herbal vinaigrettes that make you close your eyes and savor, and prepared jellies and jams using fruit from the property for toast in the mornings. On of my favorite dishes used fresh peas and a mint vinaigrette. I should have begged for a cooking class but alas... someday.
Food was sourced from Glen Aros' own garden and yes - that's rhubarb in the photo. One morning we had rhubarb compost with fresh croissants! Certainly worth a stay if you ever plan on wine tasting in the Hawkes Bay area.