Gourmet Getaway at the ‘Top of the South’

Two inspirational Executive Chefs, two iconic properties, two luxury experiences. One cool package. Escape BadgeFor a limited time, we are offering an indulgent escape at both Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses (Kaikoura) plus the Bay of Many Coves (Marlborough).

With just less than two hours drive between the properties (and a short boat ride to the Bay) both Lodges offer comfort, all the little luxuries you could desire, magic views, professional and friendly service and a break away to remember – and of course an epicurean experience.

Kaikoura and Picton are easily accessible by train, boat, road or air – from the main hubs of Wellington and Christchurch. We can assist with getting between the properties if you do not have a vehicle.

chch to kaikoura to wellington  seal

The local Seresin winery has partnered with us and their organic/biodynamic wines will be included during your stay. Their range of wines is extensive and in their words, their wine is of Passion, Grace and Spirit. What more needs to be said. hapuku

Hapuku Lodge specialises in local seafood, venison and organic produce fresh from their own garden In the Sounds, seafood is also a given, clams, mussels, oysters, salmon and blue cod is just the start, along with wild meats and offerings from our greenhouse. Of course any specific dietary requirements are easily catered for at both Lodges.

With all the gorgeous food on offer, you’ll want to take on some activities, and both Lodges have plenty of options available; from the iconic whale watching, seal swimming off the Kaikoura coast and the Maori Experience to the cruising, sailing, fishing, hiking, kayaking and more in the Marlborough Sounds. It is highly recommended, however, to sit back and relax, soak up the serenity of both Lodges, and indulge in some pampering and rejuvenation in the Miritu Day Spa.

resort in the winter sunKaikoura means ‘meal of crayfish’ (kai – food/meal, kōura – crayfish) so you’ll want to partake in this delicious regional treat, both at the Lodge itself and along the coast there are very cute ‘cray-caravans’


2013-05-05 14.25.45The ‘top of the south’ is vibrant in spring, warm and sunny with fresh sea air plus abundant nature and wildlife.



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Photography in the Sounds

Today, 18 budding photographers from around New Zealand capture the wildlife in the Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough. After a fun evening of food shots, night lights, torches, stars, phosphorecense, orbs and all sorts of whacky and unique imaging, it was an early rise to capture the morning light and get breakfast in before the 8am departure on Dolphin Watch Ecotours (a Picton based operator).

The cormorant colony pose for the camera

The excursion commenced with the cormorant colony right next to the Lodge – pied shags, black shags and spotted shags have all made a home for themselves here. The King shag colony is next on the list –  http://www.naturetours.co.nz/new-zealand/Birdwatchers/ – the only place in the world to view these birds is here in Marlborough.

Simon Woolf and Murry Cave will be working with the photographers throughout the day, exploring the mechanics of the camera, lenses, zooms, exposure, aperture, macro and micro and all the components of capturing the top shot. As Simon says, especially to those more amateur or those with non-professional equipment – ‘it is not about the camera itself – what is important is what is 6 inches behind the camera that matters!

shag or coromorant

The predator-free Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary is a bird-lovers paradise with blue penguins, South Island Saddleback, Kereru, Bellbirds, Yellow-crowned Parakeets (Kakariki), Bellbirds and South Island Robins encountered amongst the native trees and shrubs. It takes around 45 minutes to walk to the top for amazing views across Cook Strait and to the North Island.  The birds at Motuara island are plentiful, fearless and very vocal and if you sit still the birds often come within arms reach! There is a little pool of water where one can sit and take photos as the birds come to drink and bathe.

In the afternoon it will be cruising through the Sounds enroute back to the Lodge to check out the other wildlife – Dolphins (Dusky, Bottlenose, Hector’s, Common) or even Orca, Fur Seals,  Oyster-catchers, White-fronted terns, Australasian Gannets, Shearwaters, reef and white-faced herons, arctic skuas (seasonal), plus a variety of seabirds. Back in the bay, there is the resident dog, Merlot, ‘bluey’ the pet blue-cod plus the glow-worms and other wildlife, right on the property!

In the evening, the photographers will review their day’s work and share their experiences over a glass or two of Reserve Marlborough  wine, before indulging in a 7 course degustation dinner prepared by Executive Chef Hannes and his team. If you are passionate about food and wine – this is a thoroughly creative, extravagant and delicious gourmet experience – and some wicked images will be captured via canon, nikon, olympus, leica, and even the good old ‘smart’ phone!

We have two Photography retreats each year, in 2014 the first one is scheduled for 28th and 29th June. the second will be around  September – watch this space!

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Eleven thousand native plants.  Ten years ago, the Bay of Many Coves opened it’s doors and along with the outstanding architecture and cedar structures blending in with the natural habitat of the Sounds, there were plantings of thousands of native trees and bushes throughout the property. On top of that, the 52 hectares of the resort’s grounds is a haven for native foliage and shrubs, from Beech trees to Rimus, ferns to flax, hebes to horoeka, ponga to pepper-plants and plenty of kanuka and manuka.

In spring 2010, we again undertook a major facelift with eradicating non-natives and extending the plantings to ensure the native birds had a welcome habitat.  Now we have gone one step further,  introducing plant identification signage so our domestic and international gusts can learn and appreciate the diversity and natural flora of the region.

And the projects are on-going, such as titivating our Nikau ‘grove’ which is a special place to sit and contemplate, or even get married in as one special couple did recently.

There is not always a lot of colour in the natives, but the many different greens have their own beauty. Yet there are some welcome hues of the sprigs of white and purple hebe, the red

kakabeak, the yellow kowhai, the white flowers of the kanuka and of course the southern rata, or New Zealand Christmas tree, close relative of the Pohutakawa,  blooms vivid red clusters.

The lancewood is an amazing specimen, with spikey young shoots and yet the mature lancewood boasts a bushy leaf. Legend has it that this ‘horoeka,’ as it is named in Maori, evolved as a response to Moa browsing, that once the trees grew above Moa height, there was no longer the need for the ‘shark-tooth’ like leaf. Known as ‘heteroblasty’ – with distinct juvenile and adult form – the other scientific theories relate to growth re climate or energy for growing height vs branches, eitherway the Moa story is brilliant!

Kawakawa is plentiful and the guests enjoy ‘Kawakawa fire tea’ – the leaves of the pepper plant with some ginger – a spicy and refreshing breakfast tea.   It is extremely versatile, in that you may find the Maori waving it at a Tangi, or boiling it up for pain relief or bruising.

More plantings are planned for July, further afield than within the resort confines, with  a citrus grove and a native tree grove planned, the latter to include rimu, rewa rewa, totara, miro, tanekaha, tawa, pigeonwood, mahoewao, mahoe, kotukutuku, rohutu southern rata, wineberry, hinau,  silver black and mountain beech plus cabbage trees, ……

Endless projects, endless beauty, pure nature.

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Marlborough Sounds Winter Escape

Pop across the Tasman for a sojourn in the Sounds, not too far and yet worlds away.

In just a few hours you’ll be in the ‘coolest little capital’ in the world, Wellington. A compact little city buzzing with chic eateries, drinking establishments, all in a charming harbour setting.

You get yourself to Wellington we take care of everything else  – from the moment you retrieve your bag from the carousel, we’ve got a driver waiting  to transfer you to the Bolton Hotel for an overnight stay  (optional) – get a little city injection before your three nights in the tranquility of the  Sounds.

The “Kaitaki Plus Lounge” on the Interislander ferry taking you from the North Island to the South, is where you spend the next morning, on a comfy couch with a cooked breakfast, hot and cold drinks, reading material, free wifi and of course wine or beer for elevenses, all while the views of the Wellington Harbour,  wind farms and the Cook Strait wash past. Once you enter the narrow Tory Channel you feel like you can reach out and touch the sides of the valleys and mountains of the Queen Charlotte Sound. If you don’t see a couple of playful dolphins on this cruise, you are likely to on your Watertaxi transfer out to the Resort, just 30 minutes by fast boat and you’ll be in your apartment sipping Taittinger Champagne on your private balcony overlooking Arthur’s Bay by 2pm.

Once you’ve recovered from the breathtaking views and peace of it all, get out and jump on a paddle board (with wetsuit if equilibrium is an issue) or for a potentially dryer experience, sit in one of our sea-kayaks and check out the local marine life including fur seals and little blue penguins. Even more stable still, a row in the restored clinker dinghy to explore the nearby rock-face where spotted shags (or cormorants) have set up residence.

Try your luck with Captain Mark on an inner-sounds  fishing charter  – fresh blue cod for supper! Our Chefs will take pleasure in pan frying, sashimi’ing, batter-ing and marinating your proud catch.

When you’ve finished on the water, take to the hills, our 52 hectares of native bush is deserving of exploration. A hike up to the look-out for spectacular views at nearly 400meters above sea-level, take on a section of the nearby Queen Charlotte Track or a stroll to the waterfall, where the drop is impressive . The hardy can sneak back in the dark to check out the glow-worm display here too.

You will need to make time in this busy schedule for lazing on the loungers by the pool in the winter sunshine, soaking in the hot tub under the sky-full of stars, devouring a gourmet lunch platter (complimentary if you mention this blog) in the privacy of your apartment with wicked water-views, and surrendering to a pampering session in the Miritu Day Spa where Richelle will rejuvenate you. There’ll be time to join in a Sauvignon Blanc tasting, special reserve wines from our special region, pre-dinner with your hosts.

This is all once you’ve wallowed in the delights of breakfast, home-made carrot, ginger and apple juice or a detoxifying  beetroot blast, fresh-ground allpress ‘fair’ coffee beans, a range of Tleaf teas in eighteen different flavours from licorice to Moroccan mint and that’s just the refreshments. On the plate you can choose from dim sums or croissants, eggs benedict or black pudding, field mushrooms, Rosti and free-range eggs or delectable crunchy home-made granola with seasonal fruits.

A degustation dinner is highly recommended, imagine tamarind, witloof and spanner crab or oysters and pearls with citrus and tapioca, washed down with a 2009 Seresin  Chardonnay  – elegant and organic; or Lamb Rack – New Zealand finest lamb from Twin Rivers – where THEY choose to list their high quality product on OUR menu and not the other way around!

After three blissful sleeps and bird-song mornings, it will be time for a scenic flight across the Cook Strait on Sounds Air, seeing the coastline in its web of bays, inlets and coves from the air is a spectacle to behold …. A quick 15 minutes or so and you’re back at the airport in Wellington.



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Hiking & Mountain Biking Track Re-opens

With 52 hectares of native bush surrounding the Bay of Many Coves Resort, there is a good choice of hiking trails, a vista around every corner with some steep trails but extremely rewarding outlooks.  It was a hot day but the fantails flitted about as we puffed our way up, the dog running back every few steps to see if we were still coming. The native ferns and grasses lined the track as green sentinels.  Manuka trees offered shade in most parts and yet gave way to views of the inner and outer Queen Charlotte Sound as we weaved our way up. The cicadas were almost deafening, but it was a joyous din, the hum of summer.

We were checking out the new ‘old’ trail just re-opened for budding bikers accessing from the nearby Queen Charlotte Track or for hikers who want to take on a ‘loop’ from the Resort to the lookout and back. For hikers like us, a saunter up to the Lookout at 1950meters from the resort ‘s location in Arthurs bay, is a revitalizing activity.  At around  350meters above sea-level it offers a mesmerising view back to Waikawa Marina and the seaside township of Picton. The blues of the Sound below are vibrant today and the Interislander ferries are maneuvering  in the narrow gap of the Tory Channel recently arriving in from the Cook Strait.

The cacophony of cicadas was momentarily interrupted by a helicopter arriving with guests for the resort, a disturbance so brief that that you couldn’t deny these lucky flyers the beauty of witnessing the labyrinth of bays, coves and inlets of the Sounds from the air.

With the Bay of Many Coves being four and a half kilometers from the Queen Charlotte Walkway itself, this is a retreat, an off the beaten track haven to arrive to. We imagine if we were more intrepid folk, we would relish the idea of mountain biking the mostly revamped track, with a reasonable incline it would still ensure a challenging and invigorating ride.

For now we make our way down, stopping to admire the panorama of the entrance to the Sounds, Motuara Island is visible. The walk is extremely  worthwhile and we are rewarded with a cold beer back at base.

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