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"An eclectic masterpiece overlooking one of the world's finest coastlines"

Need to know

    • Soulful, eccentric, vibrant and deeply inspiring
    • A short walk from the centre of the historic township of Russell
    • Book the whole house or stay in one of 4 unique suites
    • Check in 2pm, check out 10am.  

We love

  • Stunning views of a pristine private beach and ocean beyond
  • Friendly, down to earth Kiwi hospitality
  • Going for a stroll to visit resident chickens, donkeys and organic vegetable garden.
  • Enjoying the wine made on site by the owner

Top Secret

The private beach below is a naturists beach, so if you would like to “brown your bum” as Antonio recommends, this is for you.


Russell is a quaint, historic sailing town, except the summer weeks around Christmas and New Year when it overflows with visitors. Avoid this time if you prefer a more reclusive getaway.


The Donkey Bay Inn was originally built as a family home for its owner, northland-based Italian winemaker Antonio Pasquale. The vision was for an ecologically responsible home that merged with the landscape, drawing inspiration from nature. As his children grew up and moved away for college, Antonio opened his home as an inn, to share the vision with the world.

The Review

A home so alluring, eccentric and unexpected, Donkey Bay Inn is a contrast of wide welcoming spaces and vividly decorated little nooks. Dramatic curves and colour throughout celebrate the natural and the feminine, while the massive red and green heart timber construction imbues a sense of  ‘foreverness’ and solid legacy.  The interior design is so exquisite and expressive, a few hours at Donkey Bay Inn and you may believe you are inside the imaginative soul of the owner himself.


We arrive late on a Friday but even in the dark, little clues let us know this is going to be heavenly. The  ‘Golden Gates’ of Donkey Bay Inn open and as we park, we are greeted by a pink wall and oversized vases either side of a canary-yellow tunnel, an entrance that the owner, Antonio Pasquale said was originally created for his young daughters, so they could imagine being Alice travelling to Wonderland. Through the tunnel and lush courtyard the home is revealed: all glass, timber and drama curving around the contours of the site.  


We are welcomed by Amelia, the manager, whose warm, down to earth approach immediately sets the tone – we are in for a weekend of unpretentious luxury. Amelia leads us room to room and we take in a visual feast that is eclectic, ostentatious yet completely tasteful. A print of Princess Margaret on water skis, with the addition of a pink floral swimming cap, hangs in the lounge, where you'll also find a shimmering taxidermied peacock. A metre-high gold Jesus statue, a couch recovered in velvet in not two, but three colours. Books are everywhere — on shelves and artfully arranged piles on numerous occasional tables.


We enter our room, the Skyfall suite. A comfortable lounge, a delicious four posted bed flanked by floor to ceiling mirrors and a vast ensuite centered around the show stopper – a beautiful, oversized stone tile bath.


It's not till the morning sun creeps over the distant hills that it hits you. The ocean vista is mesmerizing from all angles, and in all rooms. Native bush, beach, ocean and sky. A sun-drenched continental breakfast is served downstairs. You’re at risk of grazing for hours, sipping coffee and chatting to Antonio and Amelia.


A walk around the grounds reveals that Donkey Bay Inn is off-grid, powered by wind & solar. The building is insulated by a dense living roof of native plants. There's a vineyard, veggie garden, olive groves and beehives on the property. Visit quaint Russel for a stroll among the shops and eateries, then return for a steamy outdoor bath as you watch night fall from your perch on top of the world.


Donkey Bay Inn

  • Address: 38 Long Beach Road, Russell, Northland, New Zealand
  • Travel info: The nearest international airport is Auckland Airport (AKL). From there it is approximately a four hour drive to Donkey Bay Inn. Alternatively you can take a helicopter directly to the landing pad on site.

Key Features

  • Helipad

  • Stunning Views

  • No Children

  • Library

  • Free Wifi

  • Beach

  • Car Parking