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“Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.” - Indra Devi
My recently concluded trip to New Zealand had a purpose behind it. One of them being I had heard so much about the lodges here. Especially for our new brand a travel duet I thought it would be great to experience them first hand and share my experience with honeymooners choosing New Zealand as their preferred destination. Firstly, the concept of a lodge can be misleading in India since here a lodge is not considered an upmarket accommodation while in New Zealand a lodge is mostly locally owned and operated, in an exclusive location most of the time, small and intimate in nature with an organic and eco approach. These locals hosts are well travelled individuals who are extremely hospitable and leave no stones unturned to make you feel at home. Here are some of the lodges I experienced and reasons why you should choose them over other regular box rooms which most definitely lack character when compared to these lodges.
Queenstown Country Lodge, Queenstown - As soon I landed in Queenstown I was greeted with a smile by John at the airport. John and Amanda would be your host in Queenstown Country Lodge and they started work three years ago and finally launched in November last year. This cozy little lodge is midway between Queenstown and Arrowtown. John is a great cricket fan / player and quite an impressive bowler despite being in his 60′s hence all you cricket fans do watch out for your ribs if you get a chance to play with him.
Amanda on the other hand is a fantastic cook. I was lucky to have a chance to have lunch with them since I had heard Amanda creates magic with her hands when it comes to food. The quality of food was so impressive with most of the ingredients being local produce from the backyard. Wine is an integral part of New Zealand cuisine with the Pinots and Sauvignon Blanc which compliment the food so well, ask John and he will surely suggest you one which might suit your palatte.
They have three rooms in total and each of them have been done very cozily. My personal favourite of the three rooms is the Kawarau which overlooks towards the Cardrona and Crown Range. The lodge is located next to lake Hayes which has a lovely walking and cycling track. A great alternate option when in Queenstown away from the buzz at the shore of Lake Wakatipu.
Price range : Approx 400 NZD per night includes stay with bed and breakfast. ( A dinner with Amanda is definitely a must. )
Azur, Queenstown - Azur is a top notch property if privacy is paramount to your trip. Tucked away on a hilltop in a quite suburb of Queenstown called Sunshine bay yet it is just a 5 minute drive into the town center. With only 9 villas, each of them 75 sq mtrs with the same view opening to the lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. When in Azur time comes to a halt, rules don’t matter anymore, life dances on your tunes. Forget those runs to catch up to 10.30 am breakfast, in Azur you are the king. Eat, drink and play as you please.
Price range : Approx 1400 NZD per night includes stay with bed and breakfast. airport transfers and pre dinner drinks and canapés ( A cracker or a small, thin piece of bread or toast spread with cheese, meat, or relish and served as an appetizer. )
Bird’s Ferry Lodge, Westport - This is a hidden gem. Definitely not at the super luxury end of the lodges but the hosts Alison and Andre are very welcoming and have done this place tastefully and creatively. The level of detailing makes this lodge stand out and reflects how passionate they are about their home. The highlight of the lodge is the two bedroom Man’s Ferry Cottage which has exclusive two outdoor bath tubs overlooking the bushes into the horizon. Soaking in these bath tubs in the evening, overlooking the drama in the sky while the sun sets is one of the calmest experiences of life.
The cottage has its own private half an hour walk into the bushes and the lodge is set in a beautiful 33 acre area. Alison grows her own produce and its amazing to cherish the flavors of fruits and vegetables untouched by pesticides or chemicals. This place is a steal for the price you pay.
Price range : Honeymoon package costs approx 1000 NZD for 2 nights which includes stay, breakfast hampers with one dinner at the cottage and 45 minutes holistic massage for two.
The Resurgence - Moving further north from Westport to Nelson, I decided to stay my last few nights in South Island with Clara and Peter who own The Resurgence – a luxury eco lodge. The lodge is set in 50 acres and offers a tranquil native setting without any road noise or neighbouring building. Clara is a fantastic cook and a dinner made by her is a must. We had a fine 3 course dinner with complementing wine. Peter is a such a fun guy who is always moving around to ensure his guests are comfortable and makes them feel totally at home. Activity options around this lodges are plenty. The lodge is closest accommodation to the starting point of Abel Tasman park which itself is a must when visiting New Zealand. Taking a cruise into the national park and doing a walk / kayak is the best way to explore Abel Tasman.
Alternately, one can do a scenic flight over the national park for the fantastic coastal views it offers. I decided to go a step ahead and go to Motueka airport to fly a stunt plane for some hardcore adrenaline fun. I must confess its one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life, to fly a stunt plane from 1940′s. Nelson is just 45 minutes away from this lodge and its perfect for a day or evening hangout from here. Would highly recommend their bush lodge which has a separate tub hut with views into the greens outside.
Price range : 675 NZD for for B & B per night. Add 200 NZD for dinner.
One thing is evident why self drive is so important while touring a country like New Zealand. This infrastructure is fantastic, the landscape ever so changing and these lovely lodges hidden in the most beautiful spots of the country. Most lodges check in at 4 pm and check out at 10 am. If you appreciate good food, nature, tranquil and great company then this is the most beautiful way to experience New Zealand. Staying a minimum of two nights is almost mandatory to make the most out of your stay and enjoy the slow life or fast. Choice is yours.