On the topic of cinematic reputations, New Zealand will forever be known as the home of hobbits, elves, and the rest of J. R. R. Tolkien’s characters, since Hollywood producer and director Peter Jackson filmed much of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies in the Land of the Long White Cloud. In the 54 years since Eon Productions began financing James Bond films, none have been set or filmed in New Zealand, but that didn’t stop Robb Report VIPs from living like Ian Fleming’s famous secret agent on the final day of a 10-day adventure there last November.
That last day of their trip began with a private helicopter tour of Auckland arranged by Inflite Charters, a leading private flight-services company in New Zealand (the company, which was founded in 2012, handled all the private flights during the trip), which was followed by a high-speed tour of New Zealand’s northern fjords aboard high-speed amphibious vehicles built by Sealegs. (The New Zealand–based company has built almost 1,000 hybrid watercraft in the last 10 years, the largest of which is almost 30 feet long and powered by a 300 hp outboard motor.) High-speed and exclusive forms of travel aside, the rest of the trip also aligned with the 007 lifestyle, since the itinerary was arranged by concierges at the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, and Matakauri Lodge—three world-class properties built by Julian Robertson, whose first visit to New Zealand in 1978 lasted an entire year. Inspired by those life-changing 365 days, Robertson returned to the country decades later to build the three properties, which are located on the far north, south, and west of the island nation and offer guests the very best that New Zealand can provide.
The trip itself began at Matakauri Lodge, located outside of Queenstown on the South Island. A 90-minute helicopter tour over the region’s diverse and dramatic landscapes—including verdant rain forests, alpine lakes, and views of Tukuko Glacier and Mitre Peak, one of New Zealand’s most famous (and photographed) mountains—provided evidence why the region is known as the adventure capital of the world. A river safari through Mount Aspiring National Park completed the first day of the trip, while rounds of golf and shopping, as well as bungee-jumping opportunities, delivered plenty of highlights and surges of adrenaline during the second day.
The next stop on Robertson’s Tiger Tour (which shares a name with the philanthropist’s Tiger Foundation, a charitable enterprise that provides financial support for numerous New York City nonprofit organizations) brought Robb Report VIPs to the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, a boutique resort set on 6,000 acres of rolling pastures with 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. Following a day of private winery tours and tastings, guests spent their remaining two days at the resort testing their mettle on Cape Kidnappers’ famed Tom Doak–designed golf course, getting up close and personal with endangered North Island brown kiwi birds, and exploring the rugged and hard-to-access Hawke’s Bay coastline on all-terrain vehicles.
At Kauri Cliffs, almost 170 miles north of Auckland, guests were again tested by a world-class golf course, this time a championship course that offers views of the Pacific Ocean on 15 holes, six of them along the resort’s namesake cliffs. They also enjoyed horseback excursions along the beach; a private tour of Waipoua Forest, which is home to the country’s largest and oldest kauri tree (believed to be at least 2,000 years old); and an afternoon spent exploring the bays and coves of New Zealand’s northern coast aboard a luxury sailing yacht.
After 10 adventure-packed days spent at three of New Zealand’s most amazing properties, Robb Report VIPs returned home feeling a little more like famous secret agents with a taste for the finer things in life. With a plethora of memories from one of the world’s most enchanting places, all travelers agreed that the unbelievable getaway was definitely worth the journey—and one that they would make again.