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It’s possible New Zealand’s early settlers spotted the mountains that would later be named The Remarkables from the lakefront where this retreat now sits. You could wager a case of Otago Pinot that the word ‘remarkable’ will come to mind, too, when gazing out at that magnificent crown of peaks standing like steely soldiers through the glass walls at the Matakauri Owner’s Cottage. What makes the country’s favourite smart lodge truly stand out, however, is not so much the epic beauty it frames from its sun-flooded rooms, but rather the comfort, service and food to match. And the bar is very high. Freshwater aoraki salmon from lakes up in lofty Mount Cook stars alongside local mushrooms and crispy-skinned duck legs at dinner. Wash it all down with an Amisfield Chenin Blanc; should the vintage move you, the team can arrange tastings at the nearby Gibbston Valley, one of the country’s hottest boutique wine districts. Of course, there’s plenty to be done on those peaks as well. Go heli-skiing or head out on an all-day hike in warmer months for phenomenal views down to Lake Wakatipu. From the design to the setting, Matakauri is the embodiment of New Zealand’s own brand of epic luxury. By Erin Florio