Otahuna Lodge, famously the largest private historic residence in New Zealand, is a grand Victorian mansion (1895) just outside Christchurch, which has been beautifully renovated into a boutique hotel/private luxury lodge, offering an exclusive, luxury retreat to those keen to experience the beautiful scenery and adventure opportunities of Tai Tapu, South Island.
Otahuna Lodge is set within 30 acres of extraordinary private parkland and historic landscaped gardens, boasting wonderful views across a varied landscape of rolling pastureland, imposing rocky outcrops, and the Southern Alps.
The lodge promises wonderful cuisine, a refined service, and enchanting accommodation. For a large family or group of friends, I would highly recommend taking over the entire lodge exclusively, as it lends itself perfectly as an exlusive house party setting on a special holiday.
Otahuna lodge epitomises the quintessential country retreat of a Victorian gentleman. The exterior is magical - a vision of Queen Anne architecture, built from New Zealand Timber with irregular shapes that give it real character and traditional English style.
The elaborate details of the interiors are a reflection of the refined traditions of this period, and classic features include hand-carved woodwork throughout the lodge, wood-burning fireplaces in the bedrooms, outdoor terraces and balconies, wide picture windows overlooking the manicured lawns, stunning antique furniture and ornaments, and an impressive collection of New Zealand artwork.
The lodge features 5 comfortable suites, each with gorgeous views. The two Master Suites feature outdoor terraces, wood-burning fires, spacious living areas where private candlelit dinners can be arranged, inglenook seating, double-sized showers and spa tubs. I love the Verandah Suite, which opens out onto a palatial arched verandah where you can enjoy a quiet drink and watch the sunset over the Canterbury Plains.
As a member of Relais & Chateaux, Otahuna Lodge places great importance on its culinary offering, which is truly exceptional, particularly thanks to its vast kitchen gardens, potager and orchard, which proffer a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Guests will enjoy drinks and canapes at sunset, followed by an acclaimed 5-course tasting menu (changes daily) in the sophisticated banquet room, enjoying plenty of seasonal estate-grown produce and exquisite premium wines. The original dining room wallpaper is amazing and the ambience created by the roaring fire and sparkling candelabras is magical.
A daily afternoon tea is offered, as are special picnic lunches on the lawn, and guests can take private cooking lessons, or get involved in mushroom foraging or other experiences on the estate.
For a romantic private dinner, there are a number of intimate spaces where special meals can be set up, such as the wine cellar, library, drawing room and turret.
The lodge grounds are so worth exploring at leisure – take a gorgeous walks through woodland and along winding paths that take in the ornamental lakes, beautiful Oak, Cedar, Wattle and Poplar trees, the famous Daffodil meadow, fragrant flower-filled Dutch Garden, and the croquet lawn. Private garden tours are offered and its fascinating to learn about Otahuna Lodge’s history, such as the fabulous garden parties and polo matches that were hosted here in the early days.
Guests can relax at the lodge, enjoy the swimming pool and jacuzzi, and indulge in massage therapies.
In the surrounding area, take a privately guided tour of the Banks Peninsula, visit volcanic harbours, explore the colonial fishing village of Akaroa, take a cruise to spot Hector’s dolphins, hike along the Pacific Ocean, or in the mountains, beech forests and waterfalls of Arthur’s Pass National Park.
A helicopter charter over the Southern Alps is a breathtaking experience. Or for wine lovers, explore the boutique vineyards of Waipara wine district, just an hour from the lodge.
Every time I explore a new destination, whether it’s on an adventure holiday in Peru or a luxury beach escape in the Indian Ocean, I return home full of excitement to share the amazing sights I have seen. Through my own experiences I have developed a love of helping others experience the great wonders of the world; truly getting under the skin of the extraordinary destinations that are at your fingertips. Getting the details right, from which hotel is perfectly located for exploring away from the crowds, to which local guide is most knowledgeable on history or culture or art, is of paramount importance to me. I am constantly seeking out new and exciting experiences and exploring off the beaten track to ensure my clients are receiving the best and most honest first-hand advice.
Take a look at my travel diaries for food for thought on your next trip...