New Zealand’s most welcoming, creative and thoughtful Hosts on Airbnb have been recognised as part of the platform’s Host Awards.
Celebrating the top Hosts, listings and Experiences on offer across the country, the Airbnb Host Awards aim to shine a spotlight on Hosts for the incredible work they do for guests and the benefits they bring to their wider communities.
With categories such as Best Unique Stay, Best Designed Stay and Best Regional Stay, winners range from a Area 51 Futuro House in Ohoka, a heavenly hilltop luxury getaway in Waikato to a remote backcountry cabin in Twizel, Canterbury.
It has again been the personal touches, the unexpected inclusions and the warm and welcoming experience that has seen the coveted Host of the Year title awarded, with Susan Taylor awarded the top prize for her Loft in Bay of Plenty. Susan’s Loft in Lake Okareka is part of Susan’s lakefront property, that Susan refers to as a special place that is a bit of a secret. Susan wants the Loft to feel like a home away from home and goes above and beyond to ensure guests agree.
Becs McCarthy has won the Best New Host Award for her board and batten cottage in Northland while Daniel Smith’s Heavenly Escape in Waikato that features 360 degree ocean views has picked up the Best Designed Stay award.
Local Hosts are the backbone of the Airbnb community and to be able to recognise those who go above and beyond is a real honour.
We know that Hosts put in tremendous effort to ensure their listings are unique, curated and full of thoughtful touches that allow guests to immerse themselves in a truly unique experience to remember.
More than two years since the start of the pandemic, the travel revolution continues to unfold and the benefits of tourism are spreading further afield into regional Australia and New Zealand, and empowering locals to earn a living and make ends meet. We’ve seen fundamental shifts in the way people are travelling and living that are creating tangible opportunities for communities that lay off-the-beaten track.
It’s incredibly exciting to see travellers so enthusiastic about exploring new destinations and Hosts act as passionate advocates for the regions and communities they live in. These Hosts are also helping to bring valuable tourist dollars to local businesses and support jobs.
Being a Host is not just about sharing a special place, it also allows people to showcase their local areas while having an opportunity to earn extra income to combat the rising cost of living. Becoming a Host has never been easier with Host listings able to be set up in 10 easy steps and Airbnb has also launched AirCover, which provides top-to-bottom cover each and every reservation for free for every Host.
Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand
Winning Hosts were selected based on extensive Airbnb data, guest scores and reviews, with oversight from a panel of judges that included Australia and New Zealand Airbnb Country Manager, Susan Wheeldon and New Zealand-born Host, Felicity Stevens, who is also a Global Host Advisory Board Member.
Being involved in the Host awards judging has been a real honour and the dedication and passion that these Hosts show to their guests and the experiences on offer is truly remarkable.
New Zealanders are known for their hospitality and openness and these Hosts prove that this is certainly the case. Not to mention their creativity and craftsmanship that is also on display with these beautiful Airbnb listings.
New Zealand-born Host and Global Host Advisory Board Member, Felicity Stevens
Please find the full list of award finalists at airbnb.com/hostawards22nz
2022 Airbnb Host Awards Winners
Host of the Year – recognising Hosts who have gone above and beyond to ensure guests have an amazing stay
Winner: Susan Taylor, Lake Okareka, Bay of Plenty
About the Host: “We are thrilled to be appointed as Host of the Year for Airbnb NZ this year. What we’ve learnt over our time as hosts is that it’s the small touches that make the biggest difference. We always message our guests to acknowledge their booking, and ask if they would like information on the area to be sent over. Putting a real person behind the listing our guests have booked makes it feel more personable and comforting for them ahead of their stay. We always give a warm personal welcome on arrival, and anticipate their needs with some kitchen provisions, home baking, backup toiletries, fresh flowers or seasonable fruit and vegetables from the garden.
“Our key is to think like a guest. Thinking ahead about what would be helpful to enrich your guests’ stay, a spare toothbrush, lovely home baking to snack on, letting them know that it is OK to contact you if they need assistance – just being really personable and accessible. I love engaging with overseas guests and showing them a bit of New Zealand/kiwi life. Some guests want more interaction than others and that is totally okay! It’s all about catering to each guest’s specific needs.”
Judge Susan Wheeldon: “Susan goes above and beyond for her guests and has thought of every single detail, anticipating what guests will need to feel at home and even bakes homemade treats, ready for guests’ arrival. Susan is also very passionate about her local area and goes to great lengths to ensure guests have a thorough guide to explore everything her beautiful region has to offer.”
Best New Host – recognising new Hosts who have gone above and beyond to ensure guests have an amazing stay
Winner: Becs McCarthy, North West Auckland
About the Host: The Stables Cottage pride themselves on being a “home away from home” with a keen eye on the smaller details that leave their guests feeling well looked after and cared for.
“We welcome our guests with fresh cut flowers in all rooms from our picking garden, a selection of homemade baking, a beautiful breakfast basket with locally sourced breads, homemade cereals, free range eggs, yoghurt, local milk, and of course fresh seasonal fruits. These are just a few of the small touches that we believe really elevate our listing to a thoughtful, homely experience for our guests.
“The key ingredients that went into our Airbnb to create a memorable experience for guests include a peaceful rural outlook in a gorgeous rustic board & batten cottage, that is light and airy and of course beautiful, filled with really thoughtful details. We’ve really tried to think of everything we can to make our stay homely and warm, with details such as robes, beautiful bed linen, comfortable beds, a tasteful open living plan, lovely outdoor furniture to accentuate the outdoor living space… These are just a handful of the details that provide a true country experience to make a wonderful escape.”
Judge Susan Wheeldon: “Becs is a Host who knows how important the extra effort is in making a guest feel welcome and special. The personalised experience sees guests remembering their stay long after they have left.”
Best Designed Stay – recognising Hosts who design their homes in a way that reflects their inner personalities and passions
Winner: Heavenly Escape, Wyuna Bay, Waikato
About the listing: Nestled within the beauty of New Zealand’s native bush, every element of Heavenly Escape has been designed to embrace both luxury and nature.
“The devil is definitely in the details. Whether it’s the design elements or when hosting guests, we have made sure that every detail has a wow factor. We worked with award winning Queenstown architects Kerr Richie and our own interior design company, IP interiors, to achieve that goal”
“With 360 degree views, ‘Wow! The View!’ is normally the first reaction we get from our guests. The 3.3m floor to ceiling living room windows embrace the beautiful coastline and guests can also enjoy the changing tides outside from the open-view master bathroom.
“We welcome our guests by providing fresh flowers in all rooms, fill up the bar with wine and drinks, slippers and mats by the beds, bedside Italian mineral water, seasonal fruits and more.”
“We strongly believe in the beauty of living sustainably, therefore have designed Heavenly Escape with that mantra in mind. The house produces enough solar power for its daily usage, charging an EV and we have also installed a Tesla power wall for power outages. The house is also fully insulated and positioned to capture most of the sunlight during winter months and less sunlight during the summer months to reduce energy usage to warm up or cool down the house.”
Judge Felicity Stevens: “The hosts have designed a beautiful home that takes full advantage of its location and the needs of a family or group on holiday. They have also gone to great lengths to set up a substantial solar system to power the home and guests electric cars if needed. Fantastic to see this incorporated into the design. They are also incredible, helpful and generous hosts who provide their guests with great information on activities in the local area and set up a well designed home to ensure their guests leave having created incredible memories and wanting to return.”
Best Unique Stay – recognising Hosts who have a unique and amazingly distinctive home
WINNER: Area 51 Futuro House, Ohoka, Canterbury
About the listing: “Our Area 51 Futuro House is an original Futuro house from 1974. It is one of only 60 in the world, and the only one restored to the original design that you can stay in. The attention to detail makes our guests feel like they are truly in a 1960s space age world.
“I’ve used Airbnb for many years. I always knew I wanted to host guests at this property, because of the amazing experience I’ve personally had using Airbnb. People love to experience something truly unique and that is exactly what we offer. Our stay is so different to anything most guests have experienced before which is what makes us stand out.”
Judge Susan Wheeldon: “OMG! is a category on Airbnb that showcases some incredibly unique and innovative properties and this is certainly up there with one of the best we’ve seen. The attention to detail and consideration of the entire guest experience is so evident and really makes for a memorable stay.”
Best Nature Stay – recognising Hosts who showcase the best of Australia’s stunning natural landscape
Winner: Skylark Cabin, Twizel, Canterbury
About the listing: Skylark Cabin’s hosts believe that the guest’s experience is paramount in their Ben Ohau stay, surrounded by soaring mountain ranges and the rugged, ethereal beauty of the expansive valley.
“Skylark Cabin is an architecturally inspired and thoughtfully designed cabin that we named after the birds that nest on our property. We equipped it with all the amenities needed for a luxurious getaway, but it also comes with that sense of simplicity that gives guests the space to feel blissfully connected with nature, away from the fast pace of daily life.”
“Whether its star gazing through the skylight above the bed, soaking in the outdoor bath or going out for a day of nature-fuelled activities easily accessible from our base, every aspect of Skylark cabin has been considered to give our guests an unforgettable experience.”
“We also placed nature and sustainability efforts at the design forefront. We provide natural linen, all appliances and lighting are energy efficient, provide recycled products throughout the home, repurpose grey water from the bath to water the garden, draw water from a nearby well, use firewood from renewable plantations, promote local products and encourage the use of local walking and cycling tracks”
Judge Felicity Stevens: “This cabin has it all. Set in a breathtaking expansive valley and designed to make the most of the setting. The cabin has been thoughtfully set up to offer guests an incredible luxurious experience where no detail has been overlooked. From a well stocked kitchen to thoughtful inclusions such as e bikes, reading nooks, star gazing opportunities and helpful and considerate hosts. A very special place to visit.”
Most Magical Experience – recognising Experience Hosts who, through their expertise and passion, have the ability to immerse guests in a whole new world
WINNER: New Zealand Nature Highlights, Palmerston North
About the Experience: This Magical Experience in Palmerston North was sparked by an idea during lockdown in 2020. Arthur was talking to a friend who worked in Dubai, who found it difficult to travel home to California. Instead she connected with friends and family by signing up to a number of online experiences. Arthur then signed up to a number of online experiences himself and thoroughly enjoyed them, connecting with a host live who was more than 4,000 miles away.
The experience triggered an idea, where Arthur said to his wife that it would be cool to curate a farm tour experience and share it with people around the world who were in lockdown due to the pandemic. Arthur pursued this idea as a ‘side gig’, which eventually led him to become an Airbnb Experience Host.
“The live-streaming experience is both entertaining and educational. Different content is curated to ensure different demographics get the most out of the farm tour. For example, I share how I care for the farm animals, the impact of climate change on farming practices, and my life as an immigrant on a lifestyle farm in Country New Zealand. The farm tours are hosted in English or Mandarin, enabling me to reach out to a wider audience base in Asia.
Additionally, the farm tours are hosted when the weather is great, when it is raining, and even when it’s pitch black! It can be challenging, but it’s about offering a unique experience to guests, and to showcase the best of New Zealand to the world!”
Judge Felicity Stevens: “While this experience is about farm life in New Zealand the guests are left feeling like they have met an incredibly kind, passionate, patient farmer who shows incredible care for his animals, and the environment. Arthur sounds like the perfect ambassador for New Zealand farming life. Guests warm to him and love his stories about his life on the farm. Guests also leave feeling like they have learnt more about farming and animals and the environment.”