The Top 5 Resort Hotels in Australia and New Zealand in 2020

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Owner's Cottage stone terrace, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Photo: Courtesy of The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

Traveling to the antipodes may not be easy, but the best resorts in Australia and New Zealand — always bucolic, sometimes wild — are worth the long-haul flight. These remote properties, surrounded by dramatic beauty, position travelers to enjoy awe-inspiring adventure, both on land and in the water. Add in outstanding food and wine programs, and it’s no wonder this part of the world is a bucket-list destination for most travelers.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

Related: The World's Best Awards 2020

Founded as a simple fishing outpost in the 1920s, Huka Lodge (No. 4) on New Zealand’s volcanic North Island endures today as a favorite of travelers the world over. “One of the original lodges, and remains wonderful,” a six-time visitor mused. Set on 17 acres of manicured grounds on the banks of the Waikato River and less than five minutes from Huka Falls, the hotel is a spectacular spot from which to take up any number of outdoor activities, especially fly-fishing, with around 23 nearby streams for keen anglers. The Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa (No. 5) on the shores of the scene-stealing Lake Wakatipu is unbeatable for its central location — with views of the aptly named Remarkables mountain range — yet it’s only a 15-minute drive from the center of Queenstown. As one reader summed up, “beautiful views and easy to get to other places.”

The No. 2 and No. 3 spots go to Australian resorts, both of which incorporate environmentalism and learning into the guest experience. Located on 7,000 acres in Australia’s Great Dividing Range, third-place Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley immerses guests in a deeply luxurious bush setting (all 40 villas come with their own private heated pools). While on-site, guests can roll up their sleeves to participate in conservation activities, such as tree planting and wildlife surveying. The No. 2 spot goes to Lizard Island Resort, located on the northernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef, just seventeen miles off the coast of Queensland. Here, travelers can divide their days between soaking up rays on the beach, snorkeling the inner and outer reefs on guided tours, and visiting the property’s research station.

Taking the crown for the second year in a row: the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, a boutique Kiwi getaway with the dramatic backdrop of Hawke’s Bay’s hills and cliffsides. Read on to see the full list of T+L readers’ picks for the best resorts in Australia and New Zealand.

1.The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers Owner's Cottage open plan living area, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Courtesy of The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Score: 94.67

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Positioned on a 6,000-acre sheep and cattle farm on New Zealand’s North Island, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, a world-class golf course (ranked 22nd in the world) and its own vineyard, this resort continually impresses T+L readers. “The setting is stunning, the rooms are luxuriously comfortable, the service is highly personal since there are so few guests at any given time,” one visitor wrote. Another traveler, who enjoyed the six-course tasting menu during each night of their stay, echoed that sentiment: “Talking to the chef, the wine specialists, and the employees was great as we learned a lot about New Zealand and the people.”

2. Lizard Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Lizard Island resort exterior, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Courtesy of Lizard Island

Score: 94.59

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3. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains, Australia

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, WolganVilla pool, Blue Mountains, Australia
Courtesy of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

Score: 92.44

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4. Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand

Huka Lodge, Owner's Cottage interior, Taupo, New Zealand
Courtesy of The Huka Retreats

Score: 92.20

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5. Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa, New Zealand

Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa, hotel lobby, Queenstown, New Zealand
Courtesy of Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

Score: 79.05

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See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.

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