A Secret Hideaway in New Zealand

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Unique, Bizarre & Spectacular Places To Sleep is a series covering a range of accommodations around the world – from luxury villas, to pest-infested slums. Read stories, reviews, tips, and occasional warnings …

 

Let’s kick this series off with one of my best kept secrets:

Kuaka Cottage in Karamea, New Zealand

I found this accommodation by chance. An lonely flyer was tacked to the wall of a small nearby café, and I was captivated by one feature: the wood-fire bath. Curious, my partner and I jumped in the car and drove 12 km south of the township down a dirt road, to discover a serene paradise surrounded by the subtropical Kahurangi National Park. Lucky for us, the cottage was available.

The cottage

Handcrafted from limestone by owners Mark and Hanne, this is not just a place to sleep, it’s an inspiring work of art. Decorated with terracotta tones, sheepskin rugs and wooden furniture, the cottage is earthy and rustic. With no electricity, it’s lit by either the sun, or the warm glow of candles and the crackling pot-belly fireplace.

Candles and the potbelly fireplace light the unpowered cabin.

Features

 

 

 

With no electricity, this isn’t a place for those dependant on TV and internet. Then again, for the gadget-addicted, it could be a therapeutic escape.

The cottage isn’t ‘well appointed,’ but that’s the charm of this eco friendly experience. It has a queen-size futon, a table with two chairs, a fireplace, an outdoor decking, and a beautifully designed composting outhouse toilet and hot shower facility.

Then, there’s the thrilling wood-fire bath. To bathe, you light the logs in the oven beneath the bath, wait for the water to heat, nude-up, jump in, and then watch the stars passing overhead. The temperature gets hot (!) so you have to keep adding cold water to avoid hard-boiling yourself.

Cost

Best deal in the world: $80 NZ per night, including a delicious organic breakfast prepared by Mark and Hanne.

Location

This cottage is tucked away in the north-west corner of New Zealand near a quiet town off the main south island tourist circuit – Karamea. In the town, you’ll find only a few shops, a couple of artists studios and one small supermarket. Since it rains six days out of seven here, the environment is lush and overgrown, and the location is so remote, it feels like a lost Pacific island.

Located in the rainy top corner of the south island, Karamea is far, far away from the rest of the world.

Local activities

  • Drive into Karamea town and buy the most honestly named burger you’ll ever eat: Somethin’ Dead in Bread from the main town café. It’s a delicious slice of dead cow smothered in chutney and stuffed inside rustic bread.
  • Do a flax weaving workshop with Hanne.
  • Spot glow worms at night.
  • Go to the Oparara Basin, 45 mins north of Karamea, and see caves, limestone arches and beautiful mossy rainforests.
  • Explore the Heaphy Track – one of New Zealand’s most beautiful multi-day treks. The Heaphy takes five days to hike, but you can explore the first few hours of the trek to see the nikau palms spilling out over the wild Tasman Sea.
  • Head down to the beach and collect green-lipped mussels at low tide. Make a fire on the beach and cook them up with garlic, butter, lemon and tomato broth.

Cook some mussels on the beach

Read about more unique, bizarre and spectacular places to sleep here.

 

Leave a Comment

  • Kim March 16, 2011, 3:30 am

    Wow, what a beautiful, amazing place. I’d like to spend a few days holed up in that little house and a few more days in the wood-fired bath!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 16, 2011, 3:58 am

      If you’re in NZ, it’s an absolute must!

      Reply
  • The Rhythm Method March 16, 2011, 6:17 am

    How divine. Sounds like a great combination between self-sufficiency and indulgence. You had me at wood fired bath.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 16, 2011, 6:28 am

      Exactly.

      Reply
  • laura March 16, 2011, 9:08 am

    oh wow those pics are amazing!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 16, 2011, 9:56 am

      Thanks!

      Reply
  • Debbie Beardsley March 16, 2011, 9:23 pm

    This looks like a perfect getaway especially for someone who really needs to get away from all those gadgets! The wood burning bath would be heaven!

    Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 16, 2011, 11:45 pm

      The bath is a little slice of heaven, mixed with a little slice of burning hell. Thrilling.

      Reply
  • Marian Schembari March 16, 2011, 10:48 pm

    Oh. Wow. I want to go to there. What a beautiful little cottage! I love those warm orangey colors. Great post!!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 16, 2011, 10:52 pm

      Thanks Marian. Yep, it’s a cozy little hidey hole.

      Reply
  • Carol J. Garvin March 16, 2011, 11:21 pm

    It sounds and looks like paradise! My closest experience would be years ago when we were able to park our small motorhome right up against a rocky beach on the northern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Granted, we had conveniences in the motorhome, but it was the kind of place you chose to spend most of your time outdoors, savouring the wild beauty.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 16, 2011, 11:47 pm

      LOVE backing a van up to a rocky beach. New Zealand is great for that too, especially in the north island. There is nothing more tranquil than being lulled to sleep by the sound of waves.

      Reply
  • Monica March 18, 2011, 5:42 am

    This place looks gorgeous. An idyllic little hideaway. I’ll keep it in mind for my future trip to NZ!

    Reply
  • Joy Lormer December 6, 2013, 7:37 pm

    We are off to Manapouri and I wanted to read up on Hope Arm Hut-so funny! I am a “mouse phobic” too. Had to buy your book just to have another laugh. Oh, and you didn’t mention the dreaded sand flies at Karamea!

    Reply