Republished with permission from Niki in New Zealand

A few weeks ago, Ben and I got the chance to stay in the Ashley Mackenzie Villa at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat. To say that this mini staycation was fancy is an understatement — everything was so lush. Here’s a full review of our stay, including my thoughts on the amenities, room, and chef-prepared dinner!

Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. As always, all opinions are my own. Some of the links below, however, are affiliate links. When you purchase through links on my site, I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you!).


Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat is a 5-star lodge located on the shores of Lake Pukaki. Along with the main building, the Pukaki Homestead, all of the luxury villa accommodations focus on relaxation and connection with the natural world. There are two tiers of accommodation to choose from: the Moraine Villas and the Ashley Mackenzie Villa.

The Tuscan-style lodge offers extremely lavish onsite facilities, like an outdoor tennis court and a curling rink in the winter. Amenities in the villas include a complimentary bottle of wine from their extensive wine cellar, free wifi, and free parking. Additional amenities like dry cleaning, a private stargazing experience, and laundry facilities are also available.

The Ashley Mackenzie villa is a bit fancier than the Moraine villas and includes a workout room, a private hot tub, a massage room, and a private sauna. It’s also used as a wedding venue!

Rates for the villas start at $1,395 NZD per night. You can book your stay directly on the Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat website.


The hotel is located on Mount Cook Road (Route 80), just off of the turnoff from State Highway 8. It’s a quick 10-minute drive from the nearest town of Twizel. The villas themselves are right on the blue waters of Lake Pukaki and have uninterrupted views of Aoraki Mt Cook.

There is no public transportation to Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, so you’ll need to have your own set of wheels to get there. If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip to New Zealand, try searching Discover Cars. They search over 500 different rental car companies to find you the best deal!

Driving times from:

  • Twizel: 10 minutes
  • Queenstown: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Christchurch: 3 hours 15 minutes



Starting with the central drawing room, you can tell just how gorgeous the rest of the luxury lodge will be. All of the accommodation options at the Retreat are in the style of a European farmhouse, with floor-to-ceiling windows, high wood ceilings, Italian sandstone flooring, and traditional yet updated decor.

The drawing room includes comfortable couches, lake views, and a massive fireplace (that comes complete with marshmallows!). We were also given a huge tripod for astrophotography, some gin and whiskey, and a smart speaker for playing music. The living area opens up into the kitchen and dining area, where you’re served dinner by the chef.



In the kitchen, you’ll find anything and everything that you could need to be comfortable. There’s a Nespresso machine, a tea station, and all the basic cooking utensils and equipment. In the fridge, the Retreat leaves you a bunch of goodies, including a complimentary full breakfast spread that you can cook yourself. All the details are just so gorgeous – I wish my kitchen at home looked like this.


All of the accommodation options at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat actually include 2 bedrooms for up to 4 people. Because we were a group of 2, we only had access to one bedroom during our stay.

Our bedroom had high wooden ceilings, tons of natural light, and a huge (and super comfortable) bed. Both bedroom sin the villa open out to private patios and have superb views of the Ben Ohau Range


The elegant ensuite bathroom is my dream come true. Beautiful tile flooring, a waterfall shower, and a clawfoot bathtub — what more could you possibly need? Right outside the spacious bathroom, we were also left a set of plush robes and slippers.


Now on to my favorite part: the amenities! These are what made our experience really magical and unforgettable. Going along the rooms from the villa, we had a fitness room, a massage room, a sauna, and an outdoor hot tub. (These are all private and just for those staying in the Ashley Mackenzie villa!)

The fitness room included a stationary bike, some weights, and some yoga props. We unfortunately didn’t use the massage room, but you can schedule a masseuse to come directly with reception.

The sauna and hot tub, though, were definite highlights. There’s honestly nothing better than soaking in hot water and looking out over the view.


The chef-prepared dinner was another highlight of our stay at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat. At check-in, you choose which meal you want and the time at which you want them to deliver it.

The three-course meal was absolutely fabulous. It started off with venison tartare and freshly-baked bread and butter, which was amazing. Our mains, lamb and salmon, came with fresh vegetables and a few different sauces. To finish it off, we had a chocolate and caramel mousse for dessert.


Our time at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat was nothing short of phenomenal. I’m obsessed with the location, the view, and most importantly, the Fantail Spa and hot tub. Our diner was delicious and the fact that is is brought to your villa made me feel so fancy.

Overall, I’d give Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat a 10/10. Yes, it is expensive, but it’s more than worth it for a special occasion, celebration, or gift. And in the perfect location to explore the Mackenzie Region

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