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Best Places to Spend Christmas

Best Places to Spend Christmas: Kaikoura, New Zealand

Chris Pritchard/Alamy

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Why Go: The Kaikoura peninsula may not have reindeer, but it is teeming with sperm whales, fur seals, dusky dolphins, pilot whales, and albatross in Kaikoura Bay. Since it’ll be summertime when you visit, you can encounter almost all of them by boat or kayak, then catch some yuletide rays on the beach.

Where to Stay: Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses is the ne plus ultra of New Zealand’s eco-tourism accommodations: a complex of cedar-covered buildings and six treehouses with views of both the bay and the imperial Kaikoura mountain range. Luxe high design reigns inside and out.

Holiday Dinner: The hotel's decadent winter menu features starters of porcini and truffle ravioli and lamb backstrap on crispy fried spinach. For main dishes, try the wild venison loin with blueberries and port reduction, or the pan-fried Kaikoura blue cod with basil and chervil mayo.

—Lee Magill

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