New Zealand’s Most Unusual Places To Stay
New Zealand boasts some of the most incredible scenery in the world and plenty of intriguing accommodation options from which to enjoy the views. Take your pick from a treehouse, a lighthouse, a silo and a jailhouse to experience Kiwi hospitality, and the beauty of Aotearoa.
Up in the Air – Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses, Kaikoura
Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses put guests closer to the birds, mountains, ocean and sky, without skimping on luxury. The five Tree Houses are perched 10 metres above the ground in a grove of native kanuka trees, with views over verdant farmland and dark green hills. The owners have a distinct green focus, with a keen interest in maintaining this spot of spectacular country.
State Highway 1 at Station Road RD1, Kaikoura (+64 3 319 6559)
Travel tip: Kaikoura is two-and-a half hours north of Christchurch and is the best spot in the country for whale-watching, both from the air and on the water. Additionally, there are excellent spots for surfing, hiking and skiing in the area, which makes it an great year-round destination.
Over the Water – The Lighthouse, Wellington
When Bruce Stokell decided to build a painting studio for his wife, he soon realized that if it was situated high enough, you would be able to see the South Island. And so, in 1994, TheLighthouse, “the only kind of structure with any integrity next to the sea,” came into existence. It’s like being on the prow of a ship while the weather rages outside. “The sea in Island Bay in a storm is beautiful – the waves crash against the rocks, the spray goes 20 or 30 feet up in the air. It’s just beautiful to see,” Stokell says.
326 The Esplanade, Island Bay, Wellington (+64 4 472 4177)
Travel tip: Island Bay is 15 minutes from downtown Wellington, so your stay here can easily coincide with all the highlights of the capital, including Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, Weta Studios and Te Papa Museum.
Against the Grain – SiloStay, Little River
SiloStay is a striking addition to the landscape: metal silos, traditionally used to store grain, have been repurposed as accommodation, and now loom above the hamlet of Little River, on Banks Peninsula, just south of Christchurch. The silos blend cutting-edge design and a commitment to the environment with the high-end accommodation you might not expect from the agricultural look of the complex.
Christchurch Akaroa Rd, Little River (+64 3 325 1977)
Travel tip: SiloStay is located in Little River, halfway between Christchurch and the township of Akaroa. The latter is a lovely little spot, full of French influence, and offers a great base for exploring the Banks Peninsula. Numerous operators offer cruises to meet and swim with Hector’s dolphins, the world’s rarest marine dolphin.
Charming Incarceration – The Jailhouse, Christchurch
Built in 1874, Christchurch’s The Jailhouse has served as men’s prison, women’s prison and military camp. Decommissioned in 1999, it lay unused until 2006, when it found its second life as a hostel. Many of the original features still remain, and most of the rooms started life as cells – and one can only imagine who else may have previously slept in your room. The 80-bed hostel contains numerous accommodation options, from dorms to a family room.
338 Lincoln Rd, Addington, Christchurch (+64 3 982 7777)
Travel tip: Addington is a central Christchurch suburb, so The Jailhouse is a good option for travellers who want to check out the city’s revival – the Cardboard Cathedral, the redevelopment of the CBD, the riverside precinct. Further afield, the beach town of Sumner is charming, and the bars and cafés of Lyttelton are well worth a trip.