Global award delights couple

By Lin Ferguson

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WINNER: The Rocks Tongariro Suites near Ohakune are eco-friendly, including bins for food scraps in guests' rooms.PHOTO/SUPPLIED
WINNER: The Rocks Tongariro Suites near Ohakune are eco-friendly, including bins for food scraps in guests' rooms.PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Ten years ago while driving home to Auckland via National Park, Carel and Elspeth Sietse stopped, mesmerised by the glorious sight of the sun setting over Mt Ruapehu.

They were so smitten they decided then and there to buy a lifestyle block of farmland at Horopito.

"We saw a 'land for sale' notice on a gate and knew we had to buy it. We wanted to live with that view every day."

Their vision for the paddock beside a stand of native bush was to build an eco-friendly luxury lodge. But their plans had to stay on the back burner until their teenage children had completed their education, which meant staying and working in Auckland, Carel said.

Two years ago their vision was finally realised and The Rocks, Tongariro Suites was open for business and boomed from the outset.

Carel said they had been fully booked since they opened and were now taking bookings for 2017.

The couple from Holland had moved to New Zealand 35 years ago, he said.

"We looked at a map and decided to get as far away from Holland and Europe as possible.

"When we arrived in New Zealand, such a beautiful country, we were in awe - especially as we first lived at Mt Cook. I was a cleaner and Elspeth was a housemaid."

Carel said they feel that they are just caretakers of their land.

"We want to leave it behind in the best possible condition."

Their purpose-built luxury lodge, with four large luxury rooms as well the couple's home, is not only the highest rated accommodation in the Ruapehu district it is a global award winner.

Last week they were awarded the 2016 Green Leaders Trip Adviser Platinum award, a major global award.

"We are, of course, very, very proud."

And the lodge has also been touted locally as the top five-star accommodation in the Ruapehu district.

Every room has a spectacular view of Mt Ruapehu.

"So this is a very special place, looking out on to a very beautiful mountain."

Being completely sustainable means at the lodge they collect all their own water, which is extensively filtered, they are 100 per cent solar powered and even export electricity to the grid because they produce so much, he said.

Recycling is prime and every guest room has a recycle compost bin for food scraps, he said.

They have even installed their own sewerage system.

"It has been hard work, but we had our vision and it makes us very happy that everyone who has stayed here loves it and they send us messages to tell us."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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