Otahuna Lodge, New Zealand
Nestled in glorious and expansive gardens with an ancient volcano as its impressive backdrop, Otahuna Lodge perfectly blends the elegance and grandeur of old with luxury and indulgence to impress even the most seasoned travellers. An easy drive south of Christchurch, this exclusive country estate has been lovingly restored and is now undoubtedly one of New Zealand's most opulent retreats. Originally built in 1895 for Sir Heaton Rhodes, a Victorian gentleman and highly regarded pioneer of the South Island's Canterbury region, Otahuna (derived from the Maori word meaning little hill among the hills) is an outstanding luxury lodge with wonderful views to the picturesque Southern Alps.
Otahuna's sweeping driveway weaves its way through the landscaped gardens to reveal the elegant lodge in all its glory. The magnificent entrance hall, with its beautiful kauri and rimu woodwork, showcases the first of 15 ornate fireplaces located throughout the lodge and in all but one of Otahuna's 7 suites. The lodge's 5 suites and 2 master suites, each of which retains architectural features from the 19th century, are unique and spacious havens of comfort, luxury and history. The sumptuous bathrooms only add to the glamour, and two even have fireplaces for a soak to remember! Our favourite place to rest your head has to be the splendid Verandah Suite with its exquisite private balcony - the perfect place to enjoy your morning coffee or evening sundowner. If you're lucky enough to be here in September, the verandah overlooks the fabulous daffodil field where millions of bulbs erupt into bloom to create an endless sea of yellow!
Local and seasonal are fundamental elements of the wonderful cuisine created by Otahuna's talented chefs, with an emphasis placed on the freshest ingredients sourced from the estate itself and from regional suppliers. Expect an organic array of fruit, vegetables, nuts and herbs in the daily-changing fabulous 5-course degustation dinner served each evening, either alongside your fellow guests in the grand formal dining room, or in a secluded corner of the lodge for a more intimate dining experience... in the drawing room's turret, the beautiful library or even the wine cellar. Start your day with a delicious continental and cooked breakfast in the warm, homely kitchen. This is also the place to come for an entertaining and informative hands-on cookery class with the Executive Chef, Jimmy McIntyre, before tasting your creations and taking new skills away with you (this must be pre-booked as it is an incredibly popular guest experience).
Sir Heaton Rhodes was a keen horticulturalist, and his legacy continues today. The spectacular gardens, laid out and cultivated under the direction of A E Lowe who trained at Kew Gardens, are as wonderful today as they were over 100 years ago. Otahuna's 30-acres of award-winning gardens range from the impressive daffodil field and gently sloping lawn, to the serenity of the Dutch Garden and wonderfully vibrant Potager Garden. Join the chef and select vegetables for your evening meal, wander through the expansive woodland whilst listening to native birdsong, and sit by the lake soaking up the views with a glass of local Pinot Noir from the nearby Waipara region. The lodge's location makes visiting Christchurch or Akaroa an easy day trip, and there are dozens of local activities to enjoy including hiking, biking, heli-fishing, vineyard visits, horseriding and garden visits around Otahuna itself as well as sensational gardens further afield, many of which are not open to the public.
For those who prefer a more relaxed stay, take a dip in the lodge's heated outdoor pool (only heated in the summer months, from November to March, but the heated spa pool is available all year) then head to the utterly fabulous Woodland Massage Studio for a heavenly pampering session with beautiful views of the forest through the floor to ceiling window.
Where is Otahuna Lodge?
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