I could hear the waves below washing over the golden sands along Long Beach, massaging my mind and soul. This was heaven in northern sub-tropical New Zealand.
It’s a warm night; the French doors at my $1750 a night Cloud 9 luxury hideaway are wide open. The moonlight dances across the Pacific Ocean in the bay.
Lying on my cosy king sized bed I hear the cry of the flightless kiwi bird – the iconic New Zealand national symbol – as it scurries among the ferns and nikau palms.
I drift back to sleep then wake to the bright dayside view of paradise from Cloud 9, perched on a bush-clad hilltop, peering over a gorgeous beach. This Bay of Islands holiday haven in the historic township of Russell is a must-stay before you die place.
Rummaging through the fridge and kitchen cupboards I discover bacon, eggs, mushrooms, yummy fresh bread, fruit juice, fresh fruit platter, cereal, tea, coffee and just about anything else I would have wanted for breakfast. But I want for nothing here.
I stroll down the hill to the beach. The water is warm and I swim a tiny stretch of the calm flat Pacific before laying on the inviting sands under the golden sun before striding back up the steep slope to Cloud9. It already feels like home.
A swanky hilltop hideaway perched above the sleepy historic village of Russell overlooking the Bay of Islands in northern New Zealand; looking down on to dreamy golden sand Long Beach: perfect for night-time love-making under the stars.
Some experiences in life happily float fresh in the mind forever. This is one of those. The priceless view out over the balmy Pacific and the beautiful Bay of Islands is insatiably sexy and romantic.
I need to unwind more. I drift across the heated infinity pool which appears to merge into the ocean as one. Wearing only a smile I flop on to the hot weathered wooden deck, feeling my glistening wet body swiftly dry out and wonder if life gets better as I survey the majestic scenery.
Cloud9 rates among the most welcome destinations in this part of the world. All the bedrooms have a cedar patio or deck that have panoramic unobstructed views of the 144 islands, bays and ocean.
The sky cable television has all the movies and channels anyone would ever need. But there is too much natural beauty to soak up and appreciate. As the sun begins to fall I sprawl out on the deck, put my feet up and lazily gaze out into nowhere I appreciate why Cloud9 is the nearest step to heaven.
After four days and nights here, Lesley Joy from Bay of Islands Holiday Accommodation puts me into cosy new Waiwiri Cottage to enjoy my last few days in town. Lesley and Barry manage some of the best secret places about and next time I want to stay at the Rawhiti Beach house, which is something else. Russell was once known as the hell hole of the southwest Pacific because of the pirates who prowled the area. The looting and plundering has long gone and the little sleepy village is one of the best places to quietly holiday in New Zealand. It’s always warm and is the gateway to the big game fishing.
It has all the history in the Captain Cook Museum and Pompallier House and Christ Church, the oldest church in New Zealand which is pockmarked with bullet holes from the Pakeha-Maori wars of the 1830s.
I strolled along the waterfront under the beautiful pohutukawa trees, past restaurants, cafes and shops trying to visualise Russell as the first capital and first seaport of New Zealand and one of the country’s first European settlements.
I order snapper and chips from the fish shop next to the Pub Around the Corner and take then back to Waiwiri, where I swim in the pool, then soak in the hot tub, sipping a buttery Forrest chardonnay.
Whether it was Cloud9 or Waiwiri, I scooted away next morning batteries fully recharged, till next time.
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