Completely isolated at the northern tip of the South Island in the Golden Bay area, Westhaven Retreat is more than just accommodation, it is an experience in itself. The Lodge occupies a completely wild environment in the heart of Whanganui Inlet, sea inlet forming a large bay on the west coast of the South Island. The sojourn I spent there in 2016 gives me a tenacious memory and a nasty desire to return.
The adventure of the lodge began in 2003, when the Stompe family, of Austrian origin, decided to settle on this peninsula with spectacular landscapes and isolated from the world. The project is to build upscale accommodation that respects the environment while using the land for sheep farming. After 10 years of construction, the property opens its doors, and the result is simply enchanting. The building is constructed almost exclusively from noble and local materials: Otago shale, New Zealand Rimu wood and Tasmanian oak, but also recycled materials such as teak, giving the place a very natural and soothing atmosphere.
In terms of equipment, the lodge is not outdone with an indoor pool and a full spa including jacuzzi, sauna and massage room. Each of the twelve rooms offers an aerial view of Whanganui Bay and its hills covered with primary forest.
But it's outside that the charm of the place takes its full extent, in the exotic atmosphere of the West Coast. On more than 300 hectares, the property has several trails, one of which descends to the small beach of Turtle Beach, sheltered from any human presence. On the heights, spectacular rock formations overlook the region and emerge from the grass clipped by sheep. In the far north of the property, vertiginous cliffs drop steeply into the clear waters of the bay, which fills and empties with the tides. If paradise exists, it's possible that it looks like that.
Only downside, this idyllic setting deserves, its isolated character and the winding unpaved road leading to the property can intimidate some travelers. However, for lovers of the end of the world and unique landscapes, the reward is at the end of the road. Do not forget to specify that the activities offered on site are numerous (quad biking, kayaking, fishing, walking) and that the food is exquisite, which will undoubtedly contribute to the crush you will have for this unique place.
In Feb to March this year, we had a wonderful month touring in NZ and all with the help of Romain at OUAT. It did all feel a bit like a leap of faith, but...
Jane Chaplin, UK
Thanks for your arrangements for our trip to New Zealand, Carolyn. What a fabulous place and great people! The b&bs were terrific, particularly Carol...
John Larson, USA
Carolyn, I thought we should tell you how much we enjoyed the trip. NZ was great - the people, the food, the scenery. We liked all the places you booked for...
Glynis Williams, USA