In my years working as a superyacht journalist I have been privy to visiting some unforgettable yachts and destinations around the world. Thoughtful details, the highest levels of service and beautiful design are all hallmarks of this special industry, and it is a pleasure to see and experience this first hand. One recent memorable experience was a visit to one of New Zealand’s best-loved luxury lodges: Otahuna Lodge
Otahuna Lodge - exterior
For those lucky owners of superyachts, visiting a new or favourite country also means access to a host of onshore offerings and here in New Zealand this includes an incredible network of luxury lodges. A lodge is the perfect choice to start or finish off a trip, or to enjoy as a stopover while a yacht is in transit between destinations within the country.
Located on New Zealand’s South Island, not far from Christchurch, Otahuna was originally built by in 1895 for Sir Heaton Rhodes, a Victorian gentleman who moved to New Zealand. Otahuna means ‘little hill among the hills’, and the Lodge sits in a pristine and peaceful setting between the Banks Peninsula, with the majestic nearby hills overlooking its position. Perfectly cultivated grounds stretch into the distance towards the Southern Alps, broken up by a lake surrounded by – at the time of my visit – millions of daffodils, with the Lodge home to one of the largest fields of daffodils in New Zealand.
Millions of daffodils welcome visitors to Otahuna Lodge
After leaving the hands of the Rhodes family, Otahuna had a rich history including a spell as a hippy commune and a monastery before being purchased by its current owners, Miles Refo and Hall Cannon, in 2006. After falling in love with the house during a visit, the duo bought and lovingly restored the house to its original glory, adding their own expert touches along the way. Today those who visit Otahuna Lodge are greeting by a private yet character-full retreat that is one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in Australasia. It manages to feel very English, whilst also quintessentially Kiwi.
Otahuna Lodge - Entrance Hall
Just one of the many pieces of beautiful art at Otahuna Lodge
The Lodge is also home to a beautiful collection of some of New Zealand’s best art, curated by Refo and Cannon, paired with antiques and fine furnishings to create a beautifully memorable setting. Stand out features include a hard-carved kauri staircase that leads up to guest accommodation. Seven suites are on offer including the Rhodes Suite, the master bedroom of the Lodge’s original owners. Each suite has its own personality and charm and reflect the character and style of the Lodge as a whole. During my stay I was welcomed into the Clark Suite, named for Rhodes’ wife Jessie Clark.
Otahuna Lodge - Rhodes Suite (above) and Polo Suite (below)
Generous hosting is at the heart of Otahuna, with a warm welcome and beautifully prepared food and beverages. Detailed canapes and cocktails welcome guests in the evening, followed by a five course degustation meal prepared using the best of the Lodge’s kitchen garden and other local produce. Dinner was served to me in the cosy setting of the library, under the flicker of firelight, which was a memorable experience indeed.
Otahuna Lodge - the impressive wine cellar
Guests are welcomed to visit the impressive kitchen gardens during their stay, or simply to wander Otahuna’s extensive grounds. Other amenities on offer include an outdoor pool, a sculpture trail, tennis court, and many other activities abound in the surrounding region meaning that there is plenty to do during a stay.
Otahuna Lodge - sweeping views across the sculpted grounds
An ideal luxury hideaway, Otahuna would make the perfect start or end point to a superyacht cruise or charter. Close to Lyttleton port, the Lodge is easily accessed from the water, or by air with Christchurch airport allowing arrivals by plane or helicopter.