From the whale-hosting shores of Kaikoura to the alpine serenity of Lake Tekapo, Canterbury provides the ideal landscape for travellers looking to relax. We’ve put together a list of the best spa and wellness hotels in this laid-back region of New Zealand’s South Island.
Breathe in the fresh air from your private balcony overlooking the geothermal landscape of Hanmer Springs. All suites feature open-plan sleeping and living areas, super-king beds, gas fires and marble bathrooms with double spa baths. With the view arguably even better at night, don’t miss the option of an outdoor hot tub for a front row seat of the starry sky.
A 10-minute drive south of Ashburton leads to this secluded retreat, run by Nicky and Simon on their 32-acre (13ha) plot. Overnight packages see guests stay at the Oakview Suite while enjoying a choice of spa treatments including facials, electrolysis and massage. Home-cooked meals including breakfast and dinner platters are served in your suite, while a wood-fired hot tub is among the optional extras.
Opened in 1913, this Category I-listed building south of the Avon River brings the Italian Renaissance to New Zealand’s second city. In the shadows of Christchurch Cathedral, accommodation comprises one- to three-bedroom self-contained suites, all of which offer kitchen facilities with fridge, oven and dishwasher. You’ll also have access to a well-equipped gym, jacuzzi, sauna and heated lap pool.
The yoga mats provided in its spacious rooms hint at the tranquil vibe at Sudima. Other neat touches include an Amazon Echo Dot in each room, complimentary streamed movies and a babysitting service for kids. You’ll wake up each morning to a cooked breakfast at the hotel’s Vices and Virtues restaurant, where the locally sourced menu, including sustainable line-caught fish, persuades many to return for dinner.
Sleep among the canopy of kanuka groves overlooking the Pacific Ocean in one of five treehouses at the base of the Kaikoura Mountains. Located on a deer farm and only 10 minutes from Kaikoura’s whale-watching and dolphin-spotting excursions, nature takes centre stage. Food is another passion, as chefs cook vegetables, venison and crayfish that are all grown, reared and caught within metres of where they are served.
The underfloor bathroom heating is a welcome feature during the winter ski season at Mantra Lake Tekapo, as is the outdoor stone fireplace near the BBQ and pool. Each of the 28 apartments comes with a private balcony and magnificent alpine view. There’s also a sizeable kitchenette, though guests preferring to dine out can tuck into a three-course set menu at the nearby Rakinui Restaurant, including Canterbury rack of lamb.
Built in 1895 for Victorian gent Sir Heaton Rhodes, this regal estate offers you a choice of seven luxury suites. Formerly the master bedroom, the highlight is the Rhodes Suite, with its stained-glass windows, grand fireplace and private balcony overlooking the Canterbury plains. The wine cellar is a sommelier’s dream, set into a hillside in what used to be the game house, ensuring ideal temperatures and humidity.
Photograph the clouds caressing the tip of Aoraki (Mount Cook) from these two villas on the water’s edge of Lake Pukaki. The views can also be enjoyed from the outdoor hot tub, part of a private spa that also includes a sauna, workout room and massage room. Holistic therapies can also be experienced al fresco, and the retreat even puts on mind-bending stargazing events from its wine-cellar observatory.
Sat on the southernmost shore of Lake Pukaki, these six lodge guest rooms come with floor-to-ceiling windows, taking full advantage of the breathtaking Southern Alps. An on-site chef serves up a cooked breakfast delivered to your lodge every morning. If the view of Aoraki brings out the adventurer in you, bike hire is free, and access to the Alps 2 Ocean trail is within easy reach.