We’ve cast aside dreary resolutions involving various forms of deprivation and replaced them instead with ambitions for adventure in faraway lands. Scooping our prize this week is a sky-high, eco-dedicated resort perched betwixt mountain and sea in the New Zealand town of Kaikoura…
Style Architectural meets arboreal
Setting Deer-dotted pastures and peaks
Why this week? It might feel like a hundred years of winter outside but down in the southern hemisphere, summer is in full swing. Speaking of swinging, we all secretly wish we lived in tree houses and could swing round to each other’s houses between the trees like monkeys (don’t we?). And this we can do for 25 per cent less at heady Hapuku until the end of February.
Our favourite bits The lodge is set on a knockout 600-hectare estate, between the towering Kaikoura Seaward Mountains and surf-lashed Mangamaunu Bay. The dining room is open plan and has a relaxed alpine feel, with simple wood furniture, timber floors and a double-sided fireplace. We love the cool canopy experience you’ll get in the modern, wood-clad Tree House rooms – these romantic, private rooms are high in the canopy, with wraparound windows that ensure neck-swivelling views of mountains, sea and roaming deer. The lodge uses solar power, sources its food from local farmers, rangers and fishermen with sustainable practices, and has an ongoing campaign to restore the natural habitat (1,400 new native trees have been planted on the grounds to date).
Mr & Mrs Smith say: ‘Our room is called Kotare, after a native bird, which kind of makes sense considering it’s a bit like a nest: it’s one of the five treetop rooms. It’s luxurious, with an inviting king-size bed in the centre, and ridiculously impressive views. Wander to one end and there is a fireplace with two comfy chairs and full vistas of snowcapped mountains; a meander to the far side leads you to the ensuite, which looks out to the sea. There is something very sexy about the bathroom area. Mr Smith is so enamoured of the heated slate floor, he lays his clothes on it so they’re nice and toasty when he puts them on. The double spa has cushioned headrests, but for the voyeur (not mentioning any names, Mr Smith), the shower is completely encased in glass and looks over a privately owned field to the ocean. “Only the sheep can see you,” a staff member assures us, “and they’ve seen it all before.”
‘Jaws removed from the floor, Mr Smith and I take off to explore the area. After a few sea-life encounters, we head back to the lodge for dinner. The food is quite simply exceptional. None of that gourmet guff where you’re given a massive plate and need a magnifying glass to find the part you eat. The fresh creations are elegantly presented and the portions are man-sized. We choose the eye fillet for two and there is so much left over that the chef offers to make it up as sandwiches with lashings of mustard the next day. Now that’s service…’