Travelers discovering New Zealand’s spectacular and unspoiled natural beauty return often and word of mouth has made a visit a must on every discerning tourist’s bucket list. But to truly capture the essence of this nation of islands one must stay at one of its premier hotels. Here are five that are luxury destinations in themselves.

The famed guest list at Huka Lodge (http://www.hukalodge.co.nz/) runs from James Michener, to Bill Gates, to Billy Crystal. The 25-rooms (all suites and cottages) are situated on a 17-acre property on the Waikato River that is bordered by the pristine natural beauty of Wairakei Park Reserve. The grounds include tennis and croquet courts, secluded enclaves, and swimming and spa pools. The lodge, a must among luxury destinations, also offers an extensive wine cellar and a celebrated gourmet kitchen. The Ultimate two-night package for two runs from a low season $7,500 to a high season $10,000.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers (http://www.capekidnappers.com/) sits on over 6,000 acres of pasture land with a 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean. The property’s rustic cottage accommodations give the appearance of a classic sheep station, but with a golf course vista. Each suite includes the latest amenities from wireless internet to heated towel racks. On-site activities and nearby offerings include hiking, a gannet safari, a farm tour, wine tours, fly fishing, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, and river kayaking. Gourmet cuisine and large wine cellar make this a star among luxury destinations. Rates run from $550 for an off peak single suite to $10,500 for the Owner’s Cottage, a 4-bedroom suite.

Kauri Cliffs (http://www.kauricliffs.com/) sits on approximately 5,900 acres with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The property is nestled amidst sand dunes, kauri forests, and a golf course that clings to cliffs that plunge into the ocean. On-site activities and nearby offerings include: tennis, mountain biking, a full-service luxury spa and fitness center, three secluded private beaches, clay pigeon shooting, and tours to natural and historical sites. Gourmet offerings, including a well stocked wine cellar, complement the experience. Eleven guest cottages, each with two suites, provide the ultimate in luxury destination hotel amenities and technological accoutrements. The Ultimate New Zealand package featuring 9-suite-nights-for-two runs from an off peak $5,750 to a high season $10,700.

Lake Okareka (http://www.lebua.com/en/lake-okareka-lodge/) is a three-suite, nine-guest lodge nestled in a setting of lush vegetation on a secluded lakeside peninsula with private sandy beaches. The secure, gated estate provides 24-hour butler service, personal chefs, suite rooms with the latest in amenities and technology, a private float-plane jetty and boathouse, and a helipad. The 7,000 square foot lodge includes a wine cellar, Jacuzzi, a massage room and a fitness studio. On-site activities and nearby offerings include: fishing, kayaking, sailing, water skiing, and lakeside wetlands nature walks via a track and boardwalk along the lake’s edge. Prices range from an off peak $1,840 to a seasonal high $5,279 for a single night for two guests.

Blanket Bay Lodge (http://www.blanketbay.com/) sits among snow capped peaks at the shore of Lake Wakatipu and offers fly-fishing, hiking, heli-skiing, jet-boating, horse riding, kayaking and sightseeing flights over the World Heritage Fiordland National Park. For an experience quite different from the milder climate choices above, Blanket Bay offers an alpine escape. The twelve optional accommodations include five lodge rooms, three lodge suites, and four chalet suites and feature such amenities as wireless internet and Bose ipod docking stations. Gourmet cuisine and extensive wine cellar choices round out the offerings at this luxury destination. Prices range from an off peak $650, to a seasonal high $2,425 per person, per room.