Bliss Out at the Best Places to Stay in the South Island

A bed inside Maruia River Retreat.

Known for its stunning vistas and native bush, the South Island of New Zealand has a lot to offer when it comes to a relaxing escape, and features some of the best hotels and boutique accommodation options in the country.

Whether you’re looking for a cosy hidden cabin or want to splurge on a luxury villa complete with a private chef, you’ll be spoilt for choice with options to suit any budget and taste. Gaze at the stars in the middle of the Southern Hemisphere’s only Dark Sky Reserve, wake up with a yoga class looking out over Lake Wakatipu, or feed the tame donkeys from the doorstep of your yurt in the stunning Okuti Valley. It’s all here, ready to make your next journey south an unforgettable experience.

Where to stay in the South Island

Hidden Valley Lodge, West Coast

2261 Lake Brunner Road, Inchbonnie 7875

Leave your phone at home and settle into this quaint historic church, beautifully renovated and situated among native bush. Fully furnished for comfort, say goodbye to wifi and soak up all that the South Island’s stunning West Coast has to offer. Take the kayaks for a paddle on nearby Lake Poerua, explore countless bush walks and investigate the local glow worm caverns, the perfect cosy lodge to help you reset.

Cow Shed 488, Totara Flat, West Coast

4504A New Zealand State Highway 7, Totara Flat 7871

The light-filled Cowshed 488 is a beautifully executed boutique stay at a West Coast dairy farm, providing luxury quarters for up to six guests. Switch off and enjoy the peace and quiet, located directly across from the stunning Paparoa mountains just a short drive from Greymouth. Surrounded by a variety of wildlife (and plenty of cows!), the tranquil environment lends itself to a carefree and restful stay on the beautiful West Coast.

Maruia River Retreat

2314 Shenandoah Highway, SH65, Murchison

A tranquil escape nestled between Nelson and Christchurch, Maruia River Retreat features seven villas on a 500 acre estate, each fully self-contained and completely private. This is the place to nurture your body and mind, completely immersed in some of Aotearoa’s best native bush. Spend your days exploring the long-established gardens, walking trails and pristine beech forest before returning to your private balcony that looks out over the valley. If you don’t fancy the drive, there are options for chartered flights thanks to the private airstrip and hanger on site. This is truly the lap of luxury.

High Country Cabin, Pukaki Ward

Ben Ohau, Pukaki Ward

A truly unique accommodation experience in the heart of the Southern Alps, this delightfully cosy cabin is situated on ten acres of raw high country landscape. The perfect balance between luxury and active retreat, the area provides direct access to numerous outdoor activities including mountain biking, hiking and snow sports. Located just 15 minutes from Twizel, you’ll forget all about the world at large as you take in the stunning vista on the doorstep. How you spend your time here is completely up to you.

Skyscape, Tekapo

47 Ben Ohau Road, Ben Ohau 7999

If you’re after something a little different for your next trip away, Skyscape offers an incredible luxury experience built around stargazing—from your bed. Nestled slightly below ground level amongst native scrub and completely private, the glass roof enables you to lie back and see the night sky like never before in true comfort. Part of the Aoraki International Dark Sky Reserve, this area of sky is protected from light pollution by local bylaws, which means the stars you see here are some of the clearest in the world. And if that wasn’t enough, you can enjoy a natural spring water outdoor bath in the sunken courtyard, now that’s luxury.

Sherwood, Queenstown

554 Frankton Road, Queenstown 9348

The ultimate in sustainable luxury accommodation, Sherwood is the perfect destination for your next Queenstown getaway. Every aspect of the guest experience has been carefully considered, from the monogrammed NZ wool blankets to the carbon negative cork wall linings. Local artwork adorns the walls and a boutique selection of natural bathroom products keeps you feeling fresh during your stay, not to mention a fully custom mini bar stocked with high end local produce and snacks. Start your day with a yoga class, dine at the world class restaurant and take in the serene view of the surrounding mountains and Lake Wakatipu. Within walking distance to town via the stunning lakefront Queenstown Trail, everything the adventure capital has to offer is on your doorstep.

Cardrona Hotel

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Cardrona Valley Road, Cardrona, Wānaka

Rumoured to be the most photographed building in the country, Cardrona Hotel pops up on all sorts of social media – but there’s no real replacement to actually going there in person. Nestled between Queenstown and Wanaka on the highway leading to the Crown Range, it’s likely both towns would like to call the place their own, but Cardrona Hotel is very much happy to be its own place with its own history. Rustic and rich in history, Cardrona Hotel has a total of 48 beds available to guests.

Fossickers Hut, Marlborough

488 Wakamarina Road, Wakamarina 7178

Situated near the historic gold mining settlement of Canvastown, Fossickers Hut was designed to reflect the pioneer style of the area. You’ll be tucked away in native bush with delightful birdsong and glow worms for company. An outdoor, fire heated bath is the perfect spot to gaze up at the night sky, and you can also  try your luck gold panning in the Wakamarina River, you never know what you might dig up!

Black Estate

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614 Omihi Road, Waipara, Christchurch & Canterbury

Wine lovers will revel in the stunning accommodation of Black Estate’s organic vineyard, located on the ground floor of an architecturally designed building amongst the beautiful North Canterbury landscape. With seemingly endless views taking in everything from the vines to the majestic Southern Alps, you can relax in true comfort. Located on the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail, mountain bikes are provided for use during your stay to explore the surrounding area.

Okuti Gardens, Little River

216 Okuti Valley Road, Okuti Valley 7591

Self catered accommodation never looked so good, and Okuti Garden has turned camping into an eco-friendly activity of true relaxation. Stay in a yurt, farmhouse or even a house truck, all at an affordable price that doesn’t sacrifice on comfort. There are plenty of family games and activities on offer to keep everyone entertained, and it’s an easy drive from the city for a break from the daily grind.


State Highway 75, 4243 Christchurch Akaroa Road, Little River, Christchurch & Canterbury

Colonies of grain silos are a common sight on the Canterbury Plains, but at the gateway to Banks Peninsula they have taken on a new life as self-contained accommodation. The tall, silver corrugated iron structures are unmissable as State Highway 75 passes through the Little River township.

SiloStay is a cluster of eight grain silos, each skirted in a spiral staircase and remodelled to include exterior balconies and windows. Inside, everything, including the kitchen sink, has been custom designed for the novel curved walls of the impressive three storey structures.

The Tack Rooms

365 Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

In these uncertain times, The Tack Rooms in Christchurch is the ideal place to find a cocoon to make your own. A place where you can have the space and comforts of home, and enjoy the quality of curated finishes whilst feeling secure knowing that your stay is contactless with a keypad entry. The Tack Rooms is also practising ‘room distancing’, whereby each suite is blocked out for a minimum of 27 hours between all guest arrivals and check-outs.

The Tack Rooms are one of the city’s most innovative and unique accommodation options that doubles as an equally spectacular event space.

French Bay House

113 Rue Jolie, Akaroa, Christchurch & Canterbury

This sprawling, idyllic guest house is a seaside escape heaped in local history and genuine hospitality.

A flourishing garden flanks French Bay House, one of the settlement’s original homesteads, while a wisteria-covered, sun-soaked porch swing seat completes the halcyon picture.

Inside, four king-sized bedrooms with ensuites are named after local landmarks and are comfortably furnished giving each room its own unique feel. Think cosy throws, intricate artworks and luxe linen, while bathrooms are resplendent in tiles and stocked with organic toiletries.

Budget go a bit further? Try these accommodation experiences

If your budget extends a bit further, we recommend trying out some of these high end accommodation experiences:

Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses, Kaikoura

Aro Ha, Queenstown

Annandale, Pigeon Bay Canterbury

Pure Pods, Banks Peninsula

Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch

Blanket Bay, Glenorchy

Split Apple Lodge, Kaiteriteri

Eichardts, Queenstown

Hulbert House, Queenstown