Walk­ing in the shoes of a bil­lion­aire, Nick Wal­ton has New Zealand’s new­est lux­ury lodge all to him­self

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

Take a walk in the shoes of a bil­lion­aire at New Zealand’s new­est lux­ury lodge

elena Bay isn’t like New Zealand’s other lux­ury lodges, those stately, homely places, weath­ered by time and for­tune, that cater to af­flu­ent trav­ellers look­ing to fly-fish, hunt, feast on lo­cal pro­duce or sim­ply drink in the coun­try’s stun­ning land­scapes. It’s more con­tem­po­rary, more re­served, more elu­sive. So elu­sive, in fact, that I drive right past the en­trance as I wind down nar­row Rus­sell Road, a tiny by­way that clutches the flanks of steep hills as it tum­bles into the re­mote and im­pos­si­bly beau­ti­ful bays of North­land’s east coast.

Dou­bling back, I dis­cover sub­tle gates and man­i­cured lawns that look rather out of place, and I’m vet­ted by CCTV be­fore mak­ing my way through thick for­est to the shore­line of one of the re­gion’s iso­lated slices of par­adise, the lodge’s name­sake. “I think they like to keep things pretty sub­tle, oth­er­wise we’d have coachloads of peo­ple at the gates and peo­ple try­ing to get in, and we can’t have that,” says a young staff mem­ber as I ques­tion the cal­i­bre of my GPS. “We like things nice and pri­vate around here.”

Pri­vate’s right. At a cost of US$35 mil­lion, the lux­ury lodge caters to just 10 guests at a time, or one, should they book the whole es­tate. It’s the New Zealand re­treat of a Rus­sian steel bil­lion­aire who likes to keep a SE­CRET HIDE­AWAY The He­lena Bay lodge sits on three kilo­me­tres of pris­tine coast­line with pri­vate beaches and walk­ing trails

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