Isolation vacation: Benedict Cumberbatch’s luxe lockdown at New Zealand lodge

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Summerlee Lodge, Hawke’s Bay (summerlee.co.nz)
Summerlee Lodge, Hawke’s Bay (summerlee.co.nz)

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has revealed details of his swanky lockdown experience in New Zealand, where he was “stranded” after flying out to film The Power of the Dog in January 2020 .

The Sherlock star was able to isolate with his wife, three children and parents at a NZ$1,800-a-night (£890) luxury lodge in the country’s Hawke’s Bay.

“I loved [lockdown]. I was with my wife and children and my mum and dad had come over to have a three-week experience with us and see their boy riding a horse and steering some cattle,” he told the US’s OK! Magazine.

Cumberbatch had a window in which to fly home before New Zealand’s borders closed (a closure that would go on for two years), but chose to stay and complete filming, spending the lockdown in isolation with his family.

Of the complications caused by the onset of the pandemic, Cumberbatch said: “[My parents] stayed for five months! We were so lucky. Far away from home, but we found a new one.”

“It was … out of consideration for how best to get the film completed for Jane Campion that he has stayed in accommodation that production helped to find and finance,” his press representative told reporters at the time.

The Cumberbatch clan reportedly stayed at the Summerlee Luxury Retreat in Black Barn Vineyards, Hawke’s Bay - an ocean-view pad worth £1,700 a night.

The idyllic pool at Cumberbatch’s hideaway (summerlee.co.nz)
The idyllic pool at Cumberbatch’s hideaway (summerlee.co.nz)

Filming on The Power of the Dog had started in Otago, on the country’s South Island, when the pandemic hit - but the actor was able to move his family to the mega-pad in the North Island wine region before local lockdown rules kicked in.

The eight-bedroom lodge is set in 10 acres of apple-green countryside, with sea views, a swimming pool, hot tub, tennis court and pool house.

It also has its own orchard and is a 15- to 30-minute walk from three boutique vineyards, as well being 30 minutes’ drive from white sandy beaches.

According to local media, it rents for around NZ$1,800 a night, meaning the Cumberbatches could have been paying more than NZ$55,000 per month (£27,500) for their lockdown stay.

Hawke’s Bay locals spotted the actor out and about, with one telling reporters at the time: “Sometimes I forget that I work at a bougie winery, but today I was cruising by the winery restaurant on my tractor and saw Benedict Cumberbatch sitting there.”

New Zealand saw its first cases of Covid-19 in February 2020 and closed all borders and ports the following month.

The country then went into a strict two-month lockdown from 26 March to 27 May.

Nearly two years after those first cases, it has still not reopened to international travellers outside of a few exempt, fully-vaccinated residents, mostly those coming from certain Australian states.

In late December the country made the decision to delay its phased reopening to international travellers until the end of February, due to the Omicron variant.

“Covid-19 keeps throwing new curve balls and we have to respond in a way that continues to protect lives and livelihoods without putting in place restrictions and lockdowns unless absolutely necessary,” said Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins.

Many New Zealand nationals living abroad have not been able to return to see family for nearly two years.

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