A few weeks ago I was feeling sprightly and ready to fly to Christchurch from Queenstown for the weekend. I was nervous, having signed up to become a marine mammal medic with Project Jonah so I could volunteer and help out with future whale strandings in New Zealand.
I hadn’t been to Kaikoura in years. In fact, I hadn’t been since the big earthquakes a few years ago altered the landscape. Kaikoura has always been one of my favorite corners of New Zealand, a wild place where the mountains meet the sea and its rich blue coastal waters are home to many sperm whales, dolphins and seals.
It’s a delightful place. If I didn’t love Wanaka so damn much, I might have to move there!
Normally I’m always late to get to the airport but this day I left early and was ready to go! An hour away from my home and over a mountain, the Crown Range and New Zealand’s highest public access road, it’s rather a pain to get there. Can you even believe what happened next?
I parked my car in the airport parking and opened the back to realize I had left my suitcase at home in Wanaka. Who does that?
My beautiful bright orange Steamline Anthropologist too! Not exactly hard to miss. What. A. Fail.
Because when you fly domestic in New Zealand, you don’t really need to get to the airport really early (usually an hour before your flight departs) I didn’t have enough time to run home to grab it. And it didn’t have my contact lenses and glasses in it, I would have just gone without it.
Luckily I have good friends who I can beg to bring my my luggage AND I always buy Air New Zealand flexi-fare flights here (you can change the time/day of travel) I was able to swap to a later flight for free. Phew.
Arriving in Kaikoura after an accidentally long day of trail, just after the sun set and as a soft fog had descended over the mountains and a drizzle began to tap tap on the roof, I was ridiculously excited to check back into the fabulous Hapuku Lodge.
I was first introduced the stunning Hapuku Lodge a few years ago on a trip to Kaikoura, getting to stay in one of their iconic luxury treehouses with friends and feasting away on incredible delicacies like local crayfish. It was a trip to remember.
I couldn’t wait to return.
Located just a few miles north of Kaikoura and one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, Hapuku Lodge is a 5 star Eco-Retreat home to their iconic treehouses 10 meters off the ground and nestled amongst native plants and a Kanuka grove overlooking the Kaikoura ranges with the sea in the distance.
To be honest, the setting couldn’t be more cozy, comfortable or just plain divine. Why would you ever leave?
Hapuku Lodge is also part of the Luxury Lodges of New Zealand, a extraordinary network of luxury lodges in exceptional locations, owned and operated by people who share a deep love and knowledge of their surroundings.
The alluring setting couldn’t be more ideal, with deer wandering on the resident farm, olive groves and a vineyard – all set up against the picturesque backdrop of the Kaikoura Ranges.
This time I opted to stay in one of the lodge rooms instead of the treehouses, which *I think* I enjoyed even more. The Hapuku Room is expansive and light-filled and so incredibly cozy.
I definitely emitted a seriously happy sigh as I walked into the room for the first time after a long day of travel.
With the fire going and the rain lightly falling outside, I sunk into the deep bath with a good book and refused to check my phone or computer for the rest of the night. I was in heaven.
I absolutely crave homey and cheerful places to stay when I’m traveling, and Hapuku ticks those boxes in spades.
With its incredible marine life offshore, Kaikoura has become a hotspot over the years for marine tourism. Here you can go whale watching with great success and even swim with dolphins and seals.
I’ve been to Kaikoura many times and participating in almost all of their activities again and again because I love it so much and being by the sea thrills me.
But this trip was different. I am still tender and a bit fragile after the end of last year between my experience with the whale stranding and the epic burnout that ensued afterwards. I’m very much aware that I’m still sitting in the recovery phase of an awful period and needing to look after myself.
This means not committing to too much and not biting off more than I could chew.
As part of my job I get to visit some of the most incredible hotels and properties around the world, and my complaint is almost always the same – I never get enough time to *actually* enjoy being in the room – instead I’m often slammed with a punishing itinerary of things to do, people to meet and stuff to photograph.
This time I was determined to really get to spend time at Hapuku, wander around and go for walks, take naps and long baths, and really get a feel for a beautiful place while looking after myself.
For those planning a trip to New Zealand and thinking, I highly recommend building in time for yourself to just relax instead of trying to see and do everything.
With its tranquil setting, beautiful cozy rooms and incredible dining in-house, Hapuku is the perfect restorative and relaxing atmosphere I can guess we all need in our lives.
One of the things I love the most about Kaikoura and Hapuku is their commitment to sustainability and caring for their environment. In 2002 Kaikoura was the first local authority in the world to become a Green Globe certified community.
With a goal to nurture the unique environment of Kaikoura and restoring it through planting native trees and re-introducing native birds, Hapuku also works hard also to be sustainable in their operations.
- They source over 75% of their ingredients and products from local farmers and purveyors
- The kitchen garden is completely organic, growing seasonal vegetables and herbs.
- They are working towards becoming a zero-waste community.
- The timber used in construction and interiors are responsibly sourced or recycled
Perhaps the heart of Hapuku is thier dining room, with the most fantastic breakfast you could dream up and dinners that will delight and surprise you. Trust me, it’s definitely the best meal you can have in Kaikoura and you’ll want to come back for more.
My time at Hapuku was exactly what I needed it, when I needed it. Here I felt like I could truly relax, melt into my surroundings and just enjoy being in a beautiful place with friendly people and be looked after.
Now, when can I come back?
Have you been to Kaikoura or heard of Hapuku? Is this the kind of place you dream of staying in too? Spill!