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Remarkable Lodge

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Be forewarned. When you drive up to the luxurious Matakauri Lodge south of Queenstown, New Zealand, drive a car with a low-roof. Why? Because the Matakauri is so private and exclusive, that you have to drive through the forest to get to their front door. In moments, you'll forget the Aspen-like busy-ness of Queenstown (Aspen and Queenstown are sister cities) and arrive in a peaceful oasis. The Lodge is set on nine acres of native bush, partially landscaped with rolling lawns, a meandering stream and surrounded by a pine forest, overlooking the spectacular Lake Wakatipu, creating an atmosphere of supreme privacy and enjoyment.

Don't look for a big sign or reception area. There isn't one. When we drove up, we thought we might have accidentally stumbled into someone's private compound — and that's exactly what the folks at the Matakauri want you to feel like. We tip-toed through the front door, only to be greeted by our host, a delightful German woman, named Wiebke (VEEB-keh). She offered us a drink (Bob had a single-malt Scotch; I sipped a local Zinfandel), and showed us around the lodge.

The Matakauri Lodge is just four years old (2000), and was built with a main house for the family who lived there, and four cottages, each with two suites that are a few yards and miles of privacy away. General manager Tomas Kastberg told us that while other lodges in the area are more formal, with white gloved butlers and such, the Matakauri was designed to reflect the New Zealander lifestyle — more relaxed, simple and elegant. Think of a simple but very elegant Zen Buddhist structure, add the Kiwis' zesty love for the outdoors, and you begin to get the picture.

Our suite in one of the cottages could have been a large apartment in many metropolitan areas. The sitting room was built from local stone and wood, elegantly decorated with furniture of simple lines and sumptuous fabrics and garnished with a gas-started wood-burning stove. A minibar was stocked with teas, coffees, cookies, and other goodies, all included in the price of the room (except for the alcohol, which was extra). Commanding the entire room was the stunning view of Lake Wakatipu, with 270 degree views. Across the lake, the mountains fill your eyes with stunning beauty, and not one iota of human presence. Having come from the San Francisco Bay Area, it was ocular refreshment.

I can't tell you which room was the piece de resistance — the bedroom or the bath, so I'll have to say "both." The wall in the bedroom at the foot of the bed isn't a wall at all, but louvered accordion shutters, that we closed when we were napped. Otherwise, we threw them open and looked out through the living room into the amazing view. Now that is my idea of luxury, a bed with a view!

The bathroom was the best designed I've ever seen. The shower contained two shower heads, so that Bob and I could shower together without fighting over the water. Plus he could lift the shower head to reach over his 6'3" height, and I could lower mine to my comfort as well. The tub is not to be missed. It's large enough for the two of us plus a large dog, quite comfortably. Jets give your tired feet and back a delightful massage. As an extra touch of comfort, the tub is heated from underneath, so no matter how long you sit in the tub (and I was there a very long time), the water never gets cold. If that isn't enough, the tub overlooks the same view as the living room. Needless to say, I acquired a rather permanent pruny quality to my skin over the three days we visited.

The staff wants you to feel as though you are visiting a friend's home, a place where your soul is replenished, where abundant natural beauty brings you back in harmony with yourself and nature. The Lodge's heart and soul are about balance — wonderful nature, fun-loving people, a place of relaxation and rejuvenation. How do they do it?

It starts even before you arrive. If you notify the Matakauri of your likes and dislikes, they will have everything waiting for you. But even if you didn't plan ahead, they make it appear as though you had. We had been traveling so much that we didn't quite get around to telling them that I am allergic to wheat and mushrooms. No problem . . . the cook was able to make some adjustments on the fly.

But we really put them to the test when we asked if my step-son and his girlfriend, who had been living in Queenstown, might be able to join us for dinner. This was trickier because the Lodge only hosts 16 people when it is full, and there were only eight guests when we were there. The chef usually only cooks for the number of guests, but he was cheerfully able to accommodate our last minute request.

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Cymber Quinn, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent – Read Jetsetters Magazine at To book travel visit at and for Beach Resorts visit Beach Booker at

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Cymber Quinn, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at Leave your email next to the logo for FREE e travel newsletter.

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