It doesn’t come better than this!
Just north of Kaikoura, as you almost hit the sea, you’ll find Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses. Of course they’re not ACTUALLY tree houses, but at three levels high they are certainly tree top height.
They’re not cobbled together with bits of decking and corrugated iron with a rope swing to get down either. These luxurious chalets are built to drink in the all-day sun from when it rises on the ocean just outside your windows until it sets behind the mountains.
I entered our room and had one of those moments when the poker face doesn’t work. I “wowed” the minute Tui showed us in. A giant superking bed is the first thing you see in the middle of the room draped in a fur rug and begging to be rolled naked on. To the left a spa bathtub under the window and shower with a wall of glass overlooking the olive grove is all part of the studio room. I like it. You wouldn’t want to be staying here with your mum, but if need be, you can pull the curtain to separate your ablutions from an audience.
To the right of the master bed is an eco fancy fireplace and 2 leather recliners for a cup of tea with views over the farm to the mountains. Unfortunately it wasn’t chilly enough to light the fire, although I did contemplate opening the doors!
Chris Sturgeon and his wife Fiona Read are the manager and executive chef respectively and they’ve placed a huge emphasis on the food and that typical nothing-is-a-problem attitude lodges of this calibre are so great at. Fiona was a finalist in series 1 & 2 of Master Chef NZ, hence the major foodie focus. She may have been voted out before the final, but the experience changed her life. They gave up their corporate jobs and moved here to follow the dream. In their own home, just down the road, they’re also planning to open a cooking school and here at the lodge, they bring in international guest chefs and really make a meal out of it. (Boom!)
Hapuku is also an eco lodge owned by the Kiwi/American Tony Wilson whose father was the NZ government architect from 1949-1959 and has left his mark on New Zealand with buildings like the Wellington Public Library and the Auckland railway station. There’s now 5 generations of architects in the Wilson family with a love of great design.
Eco lodge here means more than recycling the plastic.
They do huge amounts of reporting to ensure their green globe status is maintained.
But the best thing I liked was the native tree nursery and every guest who stays gets sent a certificate within a month of their visit telling them that a tree has been planted out on the land. A photo and the gps coordinates are attached.
My tree is a karaka. Next time I go down I’m going to give a water and maybe I’ll even hang a bauble on it.