Floating on cloud nine
Cloud9 is as close to heaven as you can get: a hilltop house above the sleepy village of Russell overlooking the dreamy golden sand of Long Beach in The Bay of Islands.
Some experiences in life stay with you forever: walking into Cloud9 is one of those.
I was ushered into the lounge and onto the whitewashed floorboard by my accommodation hostess Lesley Joy.
Lesley was explaining how to work the flat screen DVD, the wi-fi internet and how to 'drive' the kitchen.
To be honest I didn't hear a word she said. I was gaping at the priceless view across the Pacific Ocean and the Bay of Islands.
Lesley took me outside to the edge of the infinity pool which seemed to blend seemlessly into the ocean.
Lesley said the property was given the name Cloud9 as it feels like the nearest place to heaven.
All the bedrooms have a cedar patio or deck with unobstructed, panoramic views to the islands and the ocean.
That night I lay in my cosy king-size bed with the doors open, listening to the sound of kiwis scurrying around in the bushes among the ferns and nikau palms.
The next morning I rummaged through the kitchen supplies Lesley had left me; bacon, eggs, mushrooms, yummy MacKenzie Country fresh bread, fruit juice, fresh fruit platter, cereal, tea, coffee and just anything else I would have wanted for breakfast.
I walked down to the beach. The water was warm and welcoming.
I swam in the still Pacific Ocean before lying under the sun, then ambled back up the hill to my accommodation.
The sky cable television had all the movies and channels you could wish to watch. I never turned it on.
There was too much natural beauty to soak up.
I cracked open a lovely bottle of award-winning Spy Valley sauvignon blanc and sat out on the deck to watch the sun set.
I could hear the waves crashing, the native birds scurrying above the bush - and nothing else.
The next day I strolled slowly through the Russell township. By now I had completely unwound.
I popped into Janet's South Sea art gallery where Helena Blair's iconic Kiwi beach scenes were on display.
But I didn't want to stay away from Cloud9 too long. I bought some fresh groper from the local fish shop to take 'home' and cook.
Another night of bliss out on the deck among the palms: not a ripple across the infinity pool, the gentle waves crashing on the empty beach. For a time life stood still.
I headed off the next morning, promising to return to Cloud9 one day.
The lodge sleeps eight people in three double bedrooms and one twin room.
Two of the doubles have ensuite double shower rooms while the other double shares a bath/shower room with the twin room. All bathrooms have double basins.
This NZ$1700-a-night four-bedroom holiday haven is one of those places you must stay in before you die.
t: +64 9 403-7188
m: +64 9 274 416378
- Word of Mouth Media