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