Getting to The Lindis – a stunning luxury lodge in New Zealand’s South Island is just as exciting as the destination.
A 2.5-hour drive from Queenstown, it’s an adventure getting there traversing some of the country’s most dramatic scenery through the Lindis Pass. I
Surrounded by stark tussock-covered peaks and deep gorges, a short-lived gold rush to the Lindis River opened up the area in the 1860s.
Anticipation builds as we arrive at the striking front gate, press the buzzer and follow the 2km road to the lodge.
Located on 2428 hectares on Ben Avon Station and surrounded on three sides by the 49,000-hectare Ahuriri Conservation Park, you will find beech forest, wetlands and tussock grasslands.
Merino sheep and Angus cattle from neighbouring farm Longslip Station are seen as well as wild tahr goats climbing impossibly steep slopes.
Soon a sweeping whimsical roofline resembling a manta ray shape appears, but it is not until we see the lodge that’s encased in a hardwood shell from the valley below that you appreciate the eclectic design.
The lodge seems to hover gently over the undulating hills of the Huxley Range and fits in so well with the landscape that it is almost invisible from a distance.
“That’s exactly what the owners and designer wanted – a building that blends into its surrounds and doesn’t look out of place in this beautiful scenery,” says Lindis Group general manager, William Hudson.
Natural materials star throughout the lodge designed by Christopher Kelly of Wellington’s Architectural Workshop. It took two years to build at a cost of about NZ$15 million.
Complete with snow-dusted saw-edged mountains framing the horizon, the lodge has five chic suites and three new mirrored pods, away from the main lodge.
The premium luxury pods blend with the landscape and feature an ensuite, king size bed, private outdoor bathtub, outdoor sitting area, and the finest linen and toiletries.
Our sprawling contemporary suite named Ben Avon is understated with an appealing earth-toned decor, timber floors, and every comfort. The king size bed is positioned to capture vistas from the floor to ceiling windows whether it’s that rising morning mist or starry night skies. There’s a rain shower and bath with a view beside the fireplace.
The sitting area has comfy chairs and there’s a television and a mini bar with a treats box filled with nuts and Minties and jetplane lollies that awaken childhood memories.
The patio is perfect for reading and planning your day’s activities.
It doesn’t take long to fall under the spell of lodge life – it’s cocktails and canapes at 6pm beside the blue stone fireplace in the Great Hall with its lamella vaulted ceiling.
Striking circular lights give a soft glow to the lounge area where natural materials including spotted gum timber and stone have been used to create a striking interior. Eclectic artwork from New Zealand and beyond grace the walls and a striking birch plywood bench by Oleg Soroko who is nature inspired, commands attention.
Dining and Entertainment
Executive chef Cesare Stella who moved from northern Italy decades ago and had his own restaurant, The Italians in Kerikeri, spoils guests with his innovative menus featuring offerings from his much-loved vegetable garden and local produce.
Sous chef Liam Tito-Salive also helps make the fabulous breads, spreads, charcuterie and other treats.
For dinner there’s an entree of carpaccio alla parmigiana – thinly sliced beef sirloin with lemon, olive oil and Italian parmesan flakes or a Trifolati of foraged mushrooms with brandy, lemon and garlic from the garden.
For main course – it’s Te Mana lamb loin on wild chicory, with anchovy and walnuts with garden grown herbs served with Romanesco broccoli or crispy skin Aoraki alpine salmon with fresh basil, lemon and white wine, served with estate-grown fennel and wilted kale and roasted kumara- such a decision.
Sweet finale highlights include passionfruit parfait with caramelised white chocolate and spiced tuile and wild thyme honey panna cotta, tuile and tiny, tasty alpine strawberries, as well as local cheeses and handmade chutney. Dinner is paired with New Zealand wines and service is attentive and personalised.
For breakfast there’s a choice of home-made charcuterie, local cheese and seasonal fruit and if you feel like indulging go for the Big Lindis Breakfast with hand-made pork and fennel sausage, roasted mushroom and tomato, housemade bacon and eggs or the fluffy pancake with lemon and pistachios.
For lunch, Cesare’s delicious home-made pasta with fresh tomato and basil exceeds expectations and is simply “bellissimo.”
The wine list is impressive with some of New Zealand’s best drops from nearby vineyards and hand selected international wines.
Activities include fly fishing in the Ahuriri River which is ranked in the world’s top five fly-fishing locations, horse trekking, mountain hikes, electric biking, buggy tours, gliding and heli-skiing in winter. We stride out to the nearest pond where we spot trout and a busy birdlife on a perfect autumn day.
After dinner, I can’t resist one last look at those night skies where there’s zero light pollution and the Milky Way and other stars, comets, planets and galaxies take centre stage in a spectacular light show.
A little note on my pillow states “a well spent day brings happy sleep” which certainly rings true in this high-country wilderness where this lodge matches the grandeur of the landscape.
We ponder when it comes to the best vistas at The Lindis – the billions of brilliant stars that puncture the clear night skies above or the magical mist that rises from the trout-filled braided Ahuriri River below.
Both are worthy of standing ovations at New Zealand’s newest luxury boutique lodge that is nestled in the South Island’s remote Ahuriri Valley amid grand terrain that simply makes you swoon – day or night.
The Lindis is a 2.5-hour drive from Queenstown.
The tariff includes luxury accommodation, daily pre-dinner drinks and canapes, multi-course dinner, breakfast, afternoon tea, mini bar and self-guided activities.
This is an adapted version of the story that appeared in Mindfood in 2018.