Relais & Châteaux, Canterbury, New Zealand
Part of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux portfolio, Otahuna Lodge is New Zealand’s largest private historic residence. Built in 1895 for parliamentarian Sir Heaton Rhodes, the rambling property is in Tai Tapu, about 30 minutes from Christchurch’s CBD. Otahuna (which translates to “little hills among the hills” in Māori) is owned and run today by an expat American couple who have poured their hearts, souls and millions into every detail of the property, restoring original silk wallpaper, retaining beautiful original wood carving and stylishly and sensitively redecorating almost everything else. The property houses seven large and luxurious suites along with fifteen working fireplaces (some of them in the bedrooms), 30 acres of grounds that include sprawling lawns and gardens that are among the country’s most significant, lovingly restored and expanded, and has views of the Banks Peninsula and the Canterbury Plains.
Settle in with a good book in the lodge’s library | Otahuna Lodge
Dining: More than 120 different kinds of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms grow in the historic gardens, meaning that guests can expect varied, seasonal and fresh fare when it comes to breakfast and dinner. At dinnertime, the fare is among New Zealand’s finest offering and consists of a five-course chef’s degustation menu that changes daily, paired with wines showcasing the Canterbury region.
The lodge also runs a cooking class during winter alongside executive chef Jimmy McIntyre, which is limited to ten guests. This year’s series will focus on mastering recipes for entertaining and is priced from NZ$225 per lesson, including a 90-minute demonstration, four-course meal with wine, recipes from all dishes prepared during the lesson and a tour of the potager garden and orchard.
What to do: New Zealand offers a plethora of outdoor activities and Otahuna Lodge is a great base from which to experience many of them. Guests can explore the seaside town of Akaroa, take a train through Arthur’s Pass, tour the estate’s expansive and meticulous gardens, golf in one of the 23 golf courses in the region, take a heli-tour exclusively developed for lodge guests (and departing and landing on the lodge’s grounds), hike or bike using the lodge’s complimentary bicycles or go horse riding along the Waimakariri River. An hour north of the lodge, guests can explore the Waipara wine region. However you might spend the day, guests are invited to join other guests for drinks in the lounge each evening where stories are exchanged.
Rates: Suites start at NZ$1,200 (about A$1,125) per night twin share, excluding taxes.