It may be nestled into the slope of a verdant hillside, but The Lindis is no hobbit house. New Zealand’s sophisticated new retreat is a gorgeous example of wild luxury, with a swooping, curved roofline that blends seamlessly into the majestic terrain of the South Island’s remote Ahuriri Valley.
A scenic two-and-a-half-hour drive from the bustling outdoor adventure mecca of Queenstown, The Lindis is perched on the 6,000-acre Ben Avon Station, adjoining conservation parks on three sides, and surrounded by snow-peaked mountains, beech forests, wetlands, and tussock grasslands. The lodge’s innovative design isn’t just an attempt to evoke a sense of a luxurious upgrade to Frodo’s hobbit house: It’s intended to heighten visitors’ relationship to the vastness of their surroundings.
“Just as the valley outside reminds us of our vulnerability, the soaring hardwood grid shell enfolds us inside its protective cloak as we gather around the glowing hearth,” says Christopher Kelly, principal of Wellington’s Architecture Workshop, which designed the lodge. “Here we can re-discover our primordial selves and our connectedness with land, water, and sky.” With just five sprawling, contemporary suites—along with three individual glass pod accommodations for sky-watchers coming in 2019—The Lindis offers both off-the-beaten-path privacy and personalized attention.
Unsurprisingly, the activities at The Lindis are pretty epic. There’s fly-fishing on the Ahuriri River (ranked one of the world’s best) and high-country horse trekking. A nearby gliding school offers silent soaring above the Southern Alps, with trips as far as Milford Sound or Mt. Cook if the weather’s right. You can also zip away on an e-bike, embark on a gnarly off-road buggy adventure, or select an outing from the house “walk menu,” offering a selection of guided and self-navigated jaunts, including the Canyon Creek Heli Walk which lifts off from The Lindis and returns by 4WD vehicle.
Back at The Lindis, the diversions are all Kiwi all the time: Chefs harvest from an on-site garden to create a local menu that also showcases venison, beef, and Mt. Cook alpine salmon. The wine cellar comes with an impressive collection of top New Zealand wines. After dinner, head outside to check out a sky full of stars. This remote area is world-renowned for its lack of light pollution, so the night will be so dark and clear, you’ll probably feel like you’ve made it all the way back to Middle Earth.