‘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.
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.
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.
Best deal in the world: $80 NZ per night, including a delicious organic breakfast prepared by Mark and Hanne.
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.
- 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.
Read about more unique, bizarre and spectacular places to sleep here.
Torre DeRoche is the author of two travel memoirs, Love with a Chance of Drowning (2013) and The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World (due out September 2017). She has written for The Atlantic, The Guardian Travel, The Sydney Morning Herald, Emirates, and two Lonely Planet anthologies.