Luxury accommodation: Hawke's Bay's Black Barn Poplars 3, Havelock North
Maggie Wicks was spoilt for space and views at Black Barn's Poplars 3 in Hawke's Bay.
Location: Down a quiet country road a few minutes out of Havelock North.
Style: Modern farmhouse meets utter luxury.
Perfect for: Small groups who want privacy, views and luxurious kitchens and social spaces.
Price: From $950 per night for two double bedrooms, $1150 per night for three double bedrooms. Minimum stay 2 nights.
First impressions: Welcome home! Black Barn's Poplars 3 villa is at the end of a long winding driveway off a quiet road about 10 minutes out of Havelock North. We recommend arriving before nightfall or you might miss the discreet entranceway (as we did).
The villa is spectacular to pull up to – a manicured circular driveway and huge doorway welcome you in. The ceilings are soaring, and a beautiful Chris Charteris sculpture in the entranceway convinced me that I was absolutely meant to live here. Step through to the lounge, and the space opens up to the most beautiful view of Te Mata Peak, framed perfectly in the villa's huge front window, with a Paul Dibble sculpture outside on the lawn.
Bathroom: Bedrooms all have a private ensuite, with showers, underfloor heating, local products and shared toiletries rather than single-use plastics. The ensuite attached to the largest bedroom has a bathtub, and there is also a shared half bathroom off the side of the lounge.
Food and drink: Poplars 3 is a self-catering holiday accommodation, with a dream kitchen, dining room, and separate breakfast nook. Guests bring their own provisions (unless the luxury catering package is ordered), but breakfast supplies for your first morning are provided – although we found there was more than enough for two generous morning meals. There were local eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, fruit, coffee and a fresh seeded loaf, and in the fridge we found local bacon and sausages, as well as honey, butter and jam.
There is also a bar that offers Black Barn wines to purchase – at regular, not restaurant, prices - and craft beer options in the fridge.
Facilities: The house is perfect for people who want to get out and explore, or simply stay here all weekend.
The kitchen is enormous, with a central prep station, 8-ring gas burner, beautiful dishes and glassware, New Zealand cookbooks, oils and spices, and an open plan so you can chat to guests in the dining room or lounge as you cook, slice and pour. In the garage you'll find bikes to borrow, as well as pool towels and a full laundry.
Outside, there is a heated pool surrounded by lounge chairs, barbecue and social area, an outdoor fireplace and sweeping lawns to enjoy – and those incredible views of Te Mata.
There is also a communal tennis court at the end of the driveway.
Other than the temptations of the fabulous restaurants, bars and vineyards of Hawke's Bay, there's really no reason to leave.
In the neighbourhood: Nothing at all – and yet nothing is far away. Black Barn is beautifully remote with your closest neighbour being the next holiday villa along the long driveway. But Havelock North is only a 12 minutes' drive, and Napier is just a few more minutes up the road.
Family friendly: There are games aplenty - croquet, Trivial Pursuit – and blankets to snuggle up in for movies at the end of the day. Double beds can be set up as twins, porta cots and high chairs are available for a charge, and babysitters can be provided.
Accessibility: Poplars 3 is not, but Black Barn has other more accessible options.
Sustainability: Recycling bins are provided and environmentally friendly cleaning products are provided.