New Zealand boasts some of the most singular scenery in the world and plenty of left-of-field accommodation options from which to enjoy the views. Here are a few of the best.
The Lighthouse, Wellington
Why a lighthouse? Well, when Bruce Stokell decided to build a painting studio for his wife, he soon realised that if it was situated high enough, you would be able to see the South Island from the site in the seaside Wellington neighbourhod of Island Bay.
And so, in 1994, The Lighthouse, “the only kind of structure with any integrity next to the sea,” came into existence. “Because it’s a lighthouse, and it’s tall and it’s in the view – there’s no grass or bush around it – [it’s like] being on the prow of a ship,” Stokell says.
Then there are the connotations that come with lighthouses, Stokell says – the romance, the isolation, cosily tucking up with a loved one while the weather rages outside.
And there’s plenty of the latter: “The sea in Island Bay in a storm is beautiful – the waves crash against the rocks, the spray goes 20 or 30 feet up in the air. It’s just beautiful to see.”
The Jailhouse, Christchurch
Built in 1874, Christchurch’s The Jailhouse has served a variety of functions: a men’s prison, women’s prison and military camp. Decommissioned in 1999, it lay unused until 2006, when it found its second life as a hostel.
Manager Nikki Hayhurst says that guests “love the uniqueness of staying in a prison”.
Many of the original features still remain, and most of the rooms started life as cells – and one can only imagine who else may have previously slept in your room.
The 80-bed hostel contains numerous accommodation options, from dorms to a family room.
Guests, Hayhurst says, also relish staying in a historic building in a city that, since the earthquakes, has fewer than before.
SiloStay, Little River, Christchurch
SiloStay is a striking addition to the landscape: metal silos, traditionally used to store grain, have been repurposed as accommodation, and now loom above the hamlet of Little River, on Banks Peninsula, just south of Christchurch.
Operations manager Lisa Ashfield says guests are routinely blown away by SiloStay.
And why not? The silos blend cutting-edge design and a commitment to the environment with the high-end accommodation you might not expect from the agricultural look of the complex – some people, Ashfield says, think it’s a shop that sells silos.
The space inside surprises guests, too. “Some people think it’s going to be claustrophobic and pokey, but it’s not,” she says. “And people are quite surprised when they see inside that it is luxurious.”
Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses, Kaikoura
Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses opened in 2003, established by the five siblings of the Wilson family just north of Kaikoura on the South Island east coast.
Originally offering just six beds in the lodge, the family soon realised that the opportunity for something far grander existed, something that would take in the multi-faceted beauty of Kaikoura – soaring snow-capped mountains and white-capped waves.
So the Tree Houses were built, putting guests closer “to the birds, to the mountains, to the ocean and the sky”.
The five Tree Houses are perched 10 metres above the ground in a grove of native kanuka trees, with views over verdant farmland and dark green hills. The owners have a distinct green focus, with a keen interest in maintaining this spot of special beauty – true luxury in one of New Zealand’s most spectacular places. What could be better?
PurePods Greystone, Waipara
The new Greystone PurePod sits on a spur in a paddock, high above the Greystone Winery. Tucked away a private oasis, guests are treated to vast views down across vineyards and up the Waipara Valley.
In this beautiful private landscape guests bid farewell to the world and are immersed in nature. The only intruders on this unforgettable break will be birds in the trees and stars in the sky above.
Found nowhere else in the world, PurePod accommodation is a first-of-its-kind glass structure made for two.
The modular build, with surround glass floor, sliding walls and roof, is styled for luxurious off-the-grid comfort.
PurePod’s can be found in four locations in the Canterbury region each with their own spectacular views and unique vibe.