In the northeast corner of New Zealand’s North Island lies Helena Bay Lodge. This luxury lodge features three kilometres of pristine coastline, four private beaches and many intimate coves.
The property offers a wide range of activities including kayaking, fishing, farm tours and bicycles. 800 acres combine a mix of forestry and open paddocks and with miles of tracks there is plenty to explore.
The inspiration for the architecture of the Lodge came from a desire to achieve timeless legitimacy in the region. For this reason styling ideas were taken from the early European buildings such as The Treaty House in Waitangi, Pompallier Mission House in Russell, Te Waimate Mission House in Kaikohe and the Stone Store in Kerikeri. Modern materials were used, but the appearance is of a building that could have been built a century ago. The base of the building is clad in Northland sedimentary schist, sourced from a nearby quarry, that formed part of the ocean floor 30 million years ago. Fragments of ancient coral, crustacean and mollusc shells have been captured within the stone. Construction of the Lodge began in 2010 and was completed in 2016.
Guests will enjoy exploring the individual rooms of the Main House decorated with its eclectic artwork and treasures, which have been collected by the owners during their travels around the globe. These captivating and fascinating pieces complement opulent interior design.
Helena Bay hosts a maximum of five individual couples accommodated in five luxury Villa Suites, which are named after New Zealand native birds.
All the Villa Suites have extensive balconies with views overlooking Helena Bay beach and beyond to the South Pacific Ocean. Leica binoculars are provided for the opportunity to view bird life, visiting whales and dolphins, and vessels tracking across the bay out to sea.
Helena Bay has brought the celebrated Michelin starred Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 of Southern Italy to New Zealand. Under the direction and the influence of Don Alfonso’s philosophy of respecting the local food culture while incorporating the age-old traditions of the Sorrento peninsula and the Amalfi Coast, fine dining will define the hospitality experience at Helena Bay.
Significant investment has been made at Helena Bay to offer guests ‘Estate to Plate’ cuisine. The menus, which change daily, are created following the Don Alfonso philosophy.
Head Chef Michele Martino was born in Southern Italy. He has trained in the culinary art of fine dining restaurants all around Italy and Europe. In 2009 he welcomed the opportunity to work with the world-renowned Iaccarino family at Don Alfonso 1890, sharing their concept of Mediterranean cuisine. After establishing himself as a trusted and respected Chef under the watchful eye of Ernesto Iaccarino, he was asked to Chef at the Don Alfonso 1890 Macau in the Grand Lisboa Hotel. After a very successful period in Macau, the Iaccarino family decided to utilise Michele’s exceptional culinary skills further and asked him to help implement and establish new ventures; first as Chef de Cuisine in Dubai and, more recently, on the romantic Island of Capri.
Ready for a new challenge, Michele has arrived on New Zealand’s beautiful shores with clear ideas: “I think Helena Bay Lodge is a unique and enchanting place where people can deeply enjoy all of life’s pleasures. The organic philosophy of Helena Bay Lodge meets the history of Mediterranean gastronomy with the Iaccarino family. For this reason I believe that guests who have the pleasure to enjoy our beautiful property will have an unforgettable experience.”
WELLNESS & SPA
Particular attention has been paid to the Gym and Spa wing which has been constructed to reflect the character of a traditional Russian Banya (bathhouse) but in a modern and functional way. Exquisitely decorated with more than a million intricate ceramic mosaic tiles imported from Italy, it has an authentic and welcoming feel. The wing contains a modern gym, massage room, changing rooms, dry sauna, steam room, and cool plunge pool.
The central courtyard of the lodge surrounds a spectacular 25-metre in-ground heated swimming pool. Exclusive to guests, the outdoor pool is ideal for gentle morning exercise or to unwind after a busy day. Afterwards, in the summer months, enjoy the opportunity to lounge on our poolside terrace soaking up the sun.
As the planet heats up environmentally and politically, it’s good to know that New Zealand exists. This uncrowded, green, peaceful and accepting country is the ultimate escape.
Food, Wine & Beer
Kiwi food was once a bland echo of a boiled British Sunday roast – but these days NZ chefs find inspiration in new-world culinary oceans, especially the South Pacific with its abundant seafood and encircling cuisines. And don’t go home without seeking out some local faves: paua (abalone), kina (sea urchin) and kumara (sweet potato). For picnic fodder, head to NZ’s fab farmers markets. Thirsty? NZ’s cool-climate wineries have been filling trophy cabinets for decades (sublime pinot noir and sauvignon blanc), and the country’s craft-beer scene is exploding. Contemporary coffee culture is also firmly entrenched.
Walk on the Wild Side
There are just 4.6 million New Zealanders, scattered across 268,021 sq km: bigger than the UK with one-fourteenth the population. Filling in the gaps are the sublime forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and fiords that have made NZ one of the best hiking (locals call it ‘tramping’) destinations on earth. Tackle one of nine epic ‘Great Walks’ – you’ve probably heard of the Heaphy and Milford Tracks – or just spend a few hours wandering along a beach, paddling a canoe or mountain biking through some easily accessible wilderness.
The Real ‘Big Easy’
Forget New Orleans… NZ can rightly claim the ‘Big Easy’ crown for the sheer ease of travel here. This isn’t a place where you encounter many on-the-road frustrations: buses and trains run on time; roads are in good nick; ATMs proliferate; pickpockets, scam merchants and bedbug-ridden hostels are few and far between; and the food is unlikely to send you running for the nearest public toilets (usually clean and stocked with the requisite paper). And there are no snakes, and only one poisonous spider – the rare katipo, sightings of which are considered lucky. This decent nation is a place where you can relax and enjoy (rather than endure) your holiday.
If you’re even remotely interested in rugby, you’ll have heard of NZ’s all-conquering All Blacks, who would never have become back-to-back world champions without their unstoppable Māori players. But this is just one example of how Māori culture impresses itself on contemporary Kiwi life: across NZ you can hear Māori language, watch Māori TV, see main-street marae (meeting houses), join in a hangi (Māori feast) or catch a cultural performance with traditional Māori song, dance and usually a blood-curdling haka (war dance). You might draw the line at contemplating ta moko, traditional Māori tattooing (often applied to the face).