Hugged by vines on all sides, Mt Michael Lodge rests on a hilltop dwarfed by mountain ranges to the east and west. Despite the generous size of the four guest rooms, each is a snug respite from the crisp Central Otago climate thanks to soft carpet, velvety throws, curated bookshelves and, for those staying in the Lake View room, an outdoor heated spa. The grand fireplace will draw you to the shared living area as will the warmth of owners and hosts Fiona and Alistair Marris, who provide an impressive breakfast spread and convivial conversation at the communal breakfast table every morning.

The location 

Mt Michael Lodge

About an hour’s drive through the Kawarau Gorge from Queenstown (you’ll pass the eponymous bungy jump) and a short five-minute drive to the Cromwell township. Once you turn off the highway onto Lowburn Valley Road, the driveway to the property is a quick left turn.

The rooms

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There are four guest rooms that share a living and dining area (the Marrises live on site) but there’s no pressure to make group conversation if you prefer your own space. The suites certainly invite you to settle in: the decor takes its cues from ski lodges (stone gas fireplaces, buttery leather armchairs), softened with a brocade-wallpaper feature wall and pastel bedspreads and carpets. Each has an enormous ensuite and kitchenette stocked with treats and a Nespresso machine. The largest room – the Lake View – is semi detached from the rest of the property and has an outdoor heated spa for stargazing.

Food and drink 

Mt Michael Lodge

An ample breakfast spread is served in the main house every morning. Order your hot meal the night before (eggs, omelette or buttermilk pancakes) but there is plenty to keep you full if you forget: an array of fresh fruit, yoghurt, muesli, coffee made to order and toast with lashings of homemade ruby-red plum jam. Fiona was a competitor on New Zealand Masterchef in 2014 and whips up lunches and dinners by request using fresh, local ingredients and taking guests’ preferences into consideration. One night might be roast Merino lamb with parsnips and leeks from the garden; a summer evening might feature an extensive platter of tidbits from local providers in the courtyard. The property is an active vineyard and the cellar door tasting is especially unique: take a helicopter from the lawn out front to the top of Mt Michael to taste the grapes at altitude.

For wellness travellers

Mt Michael Lodge

If you visit in warmer weather, there’s a large on-site pool, open until 10pm each evening (the sun sets as late as 9:30pm during South Island summer). Bikes are complementary – it’s an easy cruise down to Cromwell to follow the Four Barrels Walking Wine Trail to some of the region’s key wineries.

The fab factor

Mt Michael Lodge

Resident wine dog, a lakeland terrier named Cooper, will cosy up to you at any opportunity.

Best for: Couples
Number of suites: 4
From: NZD$495/night (AU$469)
Wi-fi: Free and fast
Parking: Free
Address: 5a Lowburn Valley Road, Lowburn, Cromwell


SEE ALSO: The Lindis – Hotel Review


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