By Corazon Miller
Winter, summer, rain, snow or shine – there will always be a situation when some time out is called for. Personally there is nothing better than just a short weekend trip away to leave me feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the week ahead.
Here are four hotspots within a short distance of Christchurch that will give Cantabrians in need of a break the perfect quick holiday fix. From luxury lodges to mountain retreats – there is something here for every taste.
This luxury lodge is a holiday gem in the heart of Canterbury’s Waipara wine region. It is a luxurious but quiet natural sanctuary in a 2400sqm nature park and estate setting.
Claremont Estate and Nature Park is more than just a place to stay; without even leaving its expansive boundaries there is a lot for guests to see and do. The nature park is a fascinating world; with its claim to fame as the home of the first significant find of dinosaur fossils in New Zealand.
It is rich with history, geology, palaeontology, wondrous landscapes, 65-million-year-old limestone spheres, the Bishop’s Head natural rock sculpture – to name just a few of the exotic sights.
Take a walk in the surrounds, or take part in a 4WD tour to see the precipitous Waipara Gorge, cascading waterfalls, exotic birds, plants and even the odd dinosaur fossil.
The lodge itself is one of Canterbury’s few historic stone homes, built back in 1866 out of hand-cut limestone that was quarried onsite. Its interior setting is elegantly furnished with its generous suites and rooms as well as the charming Claremont Cottage.
Claremont Estate promises a holiday getaway, away from the world, giving you a naturally ambient setting in a quiet, beautiful, country sanctuary.
Maison de la Mer
This picturesque bed and breakfast in Akaroa’s quaint harbour setting has earned great accolades thanks to its wonderful service and surrounds. Ranked number one on TripAdvisor’s website, out of all the Akaroa B&B’s, and also labelled as a Travellers’ Choice 2012 winner.
Maison de la Mer has certainly established a reputation as the place to stay in this charming village full of French history and character. The Maison de la Mer offers a peaceful elegant resting place that exudes both romance and luxury. Guests can stay in one of the four individual suites that are dressed in French Country décor with fine art, antiques, Persian carpets, crisp white linens and fresh flowers.
It is both comfort and style for visitors looking for something just that much more personable than your typical hotel.
During the day trail through the village, swim in the harbour, learn to cook at the local cooking school, take a cruise, watch the whales, swim with the dolphins and eat to your heart’s content – before coming back home to this little home away from home by the sea.
Azur Luxury Lodge
Located just out of Queenstown proper this lodge is perfect for city slickers who want a taste of nature but still want the comfort of the urban jungle on hand.
Azur, is a little luxury lodge that has earned a five-star rating on TripAdvisor’s website, due to its dedication to its customers. Azur is set overlooking the crystal waters of Lake Wakatipu, against the majestic backdrop of the Remarkables, Cecil and Walter Peaks.
It offers nine identical 75 sqm free-standing open-plan villas and a main lodge that houses the lobby, breakfast dining room and stunning guest lodge.
Its hosts offer personalised and friendly professional service from in-room spa services to a fully planned daily itinerary, leaving for a stress-free comfortable holiday.
Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge
This wilderness lodge is nestled in mountain beech forest, midway between Greymouth and Christchurch. Discover wild nature in this spectacular mountain setting and experience life on its 2,400ha nature reserve and high country merino sheep station. Walk straight from your room into a natural paradise of beech forest, tussock clearings, moss-lined streams and lakes.
On arrival the lodge gives you an activities programme, maps and information around its walk network, forest and tussock nature trails. Take advantage of the naturalist guides who will give you an insight into the high-country life and explore nature in this special place the first Maori visitors called “Te Ko Awa a Aniwaniwa – Valley of the Mother of the Rainbows.”
You can also explore further afield in Arthur’s Pass National Park, Craigieburn Forest Park and Torlesse Conservation Park or join a canoe trip on one of the nearby lakes and see the natural wild life.
This coming spring, take advantage of the Wilderness Lodge discovery weeks, being held in September and October. Join a tour group at Christchurch Airport and finish in Queenstown with three nights at the Arthur’s Pass and Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodges. In small personalised groups you will discover Tawaki penguins, easy kayaking, spectacular Southern Alps mountains, alpine flowers, wilderness seacoast & rainforest walking, great food and lovely accommodation.