Follow the road from Queenstown towards Glenorchy, a tiny town on the edge of Lord of the Rings country in southern New Zealand. The road winds north along the shore of Lake Wakatipu, its startling blue water surrounded by high peaks and rugged mountains, before disappearing into the hills as a single lane gravel track. But well before that Blanket Bay opens off the sealed road through sturdy wooden gates. It’s part of the Wyuna Station, a big working sheep, cattle and deer farm that runs up into the foothills of the ranges.
Blanket Bay is a magnificent building, designed in the traditional lodge style with cathedral ceilings, tall windows and lofty spaces. The central two-storey high Great Room opens out to the lake with the Humboldt Range and the Greenstone Valley on the opposite shore. It would be hard to find a more imposing view anywhere.
Constructed with huge jarrah beams, local schist stone and native timbers the feeling inside is of understated but solid luxury. The accommodation is in lodge rooms, sumptuous suites and freestanding chalets, all with serious lake views and splendid bathrooms. No luxury has been spared. There are several dining spaces, including the intimate wine cellar, and a spa pool, billiards room and well-equipped gym round out the ground floor
I arrived on a beautiful clear afternoon in early summer. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A strong breeze was whipping the lake into streaming whitecaps; dust swirled above the Dart River valley. But inside the lodge tranquillity reigned. We sipped well-made coffee and sampled sumptuous sweet slices, the caramel dripping through the cake and onto the plate.
There was the spa pool to laze about in, the gym to raise the prerequisite sweat in, and a fabulous dinner later on the terrace overlooking the sunset-stained lake. Things could be worse.
Blanket Bay is one of New Zealand’s prime lodges. Guests come to fly-fish, to walk the tracks of the nearby Fiordland National Park, to play golf and to relax. It attracts the rich and famous, the five star fishermen and the affluent young executives. And the only thing that equals it in this remote corner of the world is its setting – world class all the way.