Quirky accommodation for your next trip away

By Danielle Wright

From an 1870s kauri shearing shed to a 100-year-old post office, Danielle Wright discovers quaint and quirky accommodation options for your next getaway.

The Boutique Barn is a vintage-inspired place to escape. Photo / Jason Dorday
The Boutique Barn is a vintage-inspired place to escape. Photo / Jason Dorday

It's not unusual to want to plan another trip away at this time of the year. With so many incredible holiday options available to us in New Zealand, why not retreat from the world and enjoy our spectacular natural environment? Here's our round-up to get you dreaming:

Boutique Barn, Puhoi
Situated in Puhoi.

If you long for the simple life, this 1870s kauri shearing shed offers rustic, vintage-inspired accommodation. Simple, yet with all the mod cons.

"The décor is very vintage," says owner Morrae Stephen. "There are old shearing wheels inside and even a horse-shoe brazier. I'm a really big opshopper and it's amazing to be able to share my collection with people, particularly my vintage china and old floral rugs."

The property was opened to the public on New Year's Eve 2012 and has been heavily booked ever since, including being used as a wedding venue. The stables have just been turned into a dancing room for functions.

"Guests often tell us they have the best intentions of going to Puhoi village or the markets and shops," says Morrae. "But, once they're here, it's so tranquil they don't want to leave."

Right now, the sweet peas are flowering in front of the barn with foxgloves out the back. There's also a vegetable garden that guests are welcome to pick from for fresh salads to eat under the oak tree on vintage rustic French-style chairs.

At night, a rusty half drum with hearts cut out is lit up and there's also plenty of fairy lights for a romantic ambience.

"We have 25-acres so guests can go on long walks and we encourage people to bring their dogs. It's a romantic bolt-hole," says Morrae. "It really is quite pretty and great for Aucklanders who just want to escape somewhere in a short time."

Post Office, Lake Taupo
Situated in Tokaanu, Lake Taupo.

The building was built a hundred years ago as the postmaster's residence with the front room the post and telegraph office. It's been the setting for many a reunion because it's situated in a good meeting place between the top and bottom of the North Island.

"We've tried to give the post office history more integrity with a folder containing information on the post office history as well as screen-printed images and artwork relating to stamps and post," says owner Margaret Scott.

"It's a typically immaculately built government building," says Margaret. "There are kauri window frames, as well as matai and totara timber throughout."

Some of the rooms are themed - there's a music room, a fishing room and a ski room, as well as a hot tub from a thermal bore.

"Guests find it interesting that we've used concrete cattle troughs for the tubs," says Margaret. "We put the bore down ourselves."

Barr Cottage, Huia
Little Huia Rd.

The Auckland Council looks after many quirky and historic baches around the region, which can be booked up to six months in advance. Each has a distinct personality - from Trelise Cooper's old family bach in Scandrett to the solar-powered Keddle House tucked into the hillside overlooking remote Anawhata beach on Auckland's wild West Coast.

Barr Cottage is a character cottage in Huia, set just across the road from Little Huia's tidal beach and providing easy access to breathtaking Whatipu beach, as well as the Waitakere ranges.

The cottage was built 70-odd years ago with materials from the original Barr cottage of the 1880s, which once stood alongside.

It's a bit of an artist's favourite, having been featured in The Man Who Lost His Head, starring British actor Martin Clunes, as well as being the part of the Auckland Council's Artist in Residence programme currently hosting award-winning sound designer Tim Prebble.

Modern Log Cabin, Coromandel
Situated in the Coromandel, overlooking Otama Beach and the Mercury Islands.

For the ultimate modern bach experience, you can't beat the beautiful Otama beach home of award-winning architect Ken Crosson. You don't have to take our word for it - this bach won Home of the Year in 2003 and Home of the Decade in 2005.

The building is designed as a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Kiwi bach.

The interior is minimal but comfortable and is totally natural and very sustainable. It's a modern day log cabin.

"Because of the privacy, you experience life another way," says Ken. "A lot of the day happens outside - even bathing or showering and cooking."

Ken says the best way to escape from the pressure of modern life when you arrive is to pop some champagne and take your shoes off.

"When we come here we get to experience life in a slow way. There's no television and the music is the sound of the waves on the beach and the birds in the trees," says Ken. "All our daily rituals are somewhat changed, we'll eat when we're hungry and take our watch off - there's no structure to the day."

1950s Classic Bach, Waiheke Island
Situated in Blackpool, Waiheke Island.

"For some people, our place is too quaint and they want all the mod cons, but, it has its charms and is a true Kiwi bach," says owner Michele Hunter, who collects vintage china and fabrics from around the world to furnish the bach.

"Baches were traditionally furnished by off-casts and old family pieces that people didn't quite want to get rid of," explains Michele. "Mine has an eclectic style - old stuff from the 50s and 70s, as well as modern Ikea pieces and contemporary art."

Handy with a sewing machine, Michele brought back tea towels from England, where she lived for 25 years, and made them into cushions. There's also a little collection of photographs from her time in Italy. She's also kept a collection of vintage children's books and toys, including a set of NZ Encyclopedias so the kids have no excuse to use Google on holiday.

"Real estate agents tell me Blackpool is the Grey Lynn of Waiheke," says Michele. "It's five minutes to the village and seven minutes to Little Oneroa with its oven-fired pizza, fish and chip shop and kids' playground. There are also lovely walks around Blackpool."

As a volunteer for the community-run Waiheke cinema, she managed to get hold of some old cinema seats, which are now on her front porch. She has also developed a community curbside garden after hearing of the council not wanting to mow them anymore. It's filled with parsley, pumpkin, silverbeet and spinach for people to pick on the way past.

Jailhouse, near Rotorua
Situated in the Whirinaki Forest Park, near Rotorua.

"The building was originally built in the early 1900s and was once the Old Te Whaiti Jail - a holding cell when native milling happened in the area," says owner Vanessa Macdonald. "My husband Scott's grandfather bought it when it closed and shifted it to its current location."

It was then built on and extended for his wife and three children, who lived in it for 15 years. Vanessa and Scott gave it a new lease of life and now it's used as accommodation, mainly for mountain bikers, trampers and fishermen using the Whirinaki Forest facilities.

"They call the forest 'dinosaur country'," says Vanessa. "It's famous for its very old native bush and there are numerous tramping tracks nearby. We provide a shuttle service for mountain bikers to the 35km Moerangi mountain bike trail."

The accommodation is set on a 3000-acre sheep, beef and deer farm less than an hour's drive from Rotorua. There's also private access to the river to fish for both rainbow and brown trout.

"Guests are surprised at how beautiful it is here," says Vanessa. "The jailhouse is up on a hill and overlooks the river on one side and a farm on the other. It's pretty stunning - a nice little cottage in the middle of nowhere."

Canopy Camping at Kawakawa Station, Wairarapa
Cape Palliser Rd, RD 3, Featherston.

Get back to basics on a 4000-acre sheep station in the Wairarapa, where you'll find a private encampment catering for groups of up to nine people from late September to April and for five people for a cosy winter get-away from May to late September.

Instead of over-loading the car with camping gear, you'll arrive to find a luxury canvas tent all set up and filled with everything you need. The interior is beautifully curated with a designer's touch - from the crate box storage shelves and a manuka twig as a toilet roll holder to fabric bunting and vintage blankets.

"One woman said opening the tent was like opening a big present, which we really liked," says Liz Henderson, co-founder of Canopy Camping. "What's been really interesting is how much our guests love having no mobile reception or contact with the outside world. The scenery is also spectacular - it feels like high country but you're right next to the coast."

"Everything here takes time, that's the experience - there's no need to hurry anything," says Liz. "I like the fact there's no light switches to turn on and everything is lit by lanterns or candle light. It takes 40 minutes to heat up the outside bath so just relax and enjoy your wine under the stars, and wait."

- Herald on Sunday

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