Relaxation AT ITS FINEST
Colleith Lodge in the Coromandel is well worth the detour, writes Emma Darragh
Friends insisted we include Colleith Lodge in The Coromandel at the end of our two week vacation. “It’s worth the detour,” they said, “you will not regret it.”
Wayne Tourell and Helen Bissett greet us with welcoming smiles at their front door. Behind them, a spectacular view is framed by floor-to-ceiling windows.
How to describe the vista before us? It is a child’s painting, filling the page with every natural wonder at once. A sparkling harbour merges into a mountain. In the foreground, a neat grid of canals with extravagant houses border the waterways. Beyond the land, a golden strip of sandy beach with perfect waves roll repeatedly onto shore. Out in the blue beyond lies a litany of tiny islands. We are captivated.
Wayne and Helen bought Colleith Lodge in 2016. It is evident they love their new roles and share their vast knowledge of New Zealand with guests. Helen assures us she is finding out so much about the world from her guests, but I feel the opposite is true, too. Together, her and Wayne share stories from earlier chapters of their lives. Helen is a retired adventure travel entrepreneur and CEO. Wayne is a retired film director who produced adventure, cultural and travel films, documentaries and TV shows. “We’ve been lucky enough in our industry to have seen many places and things,” they tell us.
Our bedroom is one of three adjacent guest rooms at Colleith Lodge, each with their own private pool-side patio. Thoughtful extras such as the fresh vase of flowers on the nightstand, the power-point tower and the in-room Nespresso machine ensure everything we want and need is at hand. The ensuite bathroom is spacious and well appointed with sumptuous robes and thick, fluffy towels. We are fortunate to receive the room with the spa-bath in the ensuite; which perfectly completes our Friday.
The next morning I wake from an amazing sleep and we take a refreshing dip in the pool before breakfast prepared by them both. Organic rhubarb and fresh fruit from the garden provide a deliciously tangy contrast to the full cooked feast set down before us. Helen and Wayne join us for a chat over coffee. Wayne has us laughing within minutes - he is a natural storyteller with a terrific sense of humour.
We could quite happily stay at Colleith Lodge all day. However, my partner is keen to discover Driving Creek Railway, so we set off on the journey to Coromandel Town. Driving around the Coromandel is as much a highlight as our
destination. I am grateful to be the passenger, able to witness the dramatic bush, winding hills and ocean views. Driving Creek Railway and Potteries is New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway and is every bit as fascinating as Helen and Wayne suggested when they recommended it. The railway trip, sculpture garden and pottery exhibits fit perfectly with the relaxed pace we’ve adopted since arriving on The Coromandel.
We return to Colleith Lodge in time for cocktail hour. Helen and Wayne have laid out a divine selection of canapes, scented with fresh herbs and tasty treats from their garden. New Zealand beer and wine are gladly received and we find ourselves seated before that spectacular view, once again captivating our attention. A plump kereru (New Zealand wood pigeon) flies past, as we relax and soak up the magic of the Colleith Lodge experience.
After far too many canapes (our favourite being the smoked venison and homemade relish on a thick-cut potato chip) we don’t have a lot of room to sample the local cuisine available a short walk away at Tairua’s restaurants.
Helen and Wayne walk with us to the car on Sunday morning, guiding a stroll around their garden on the way. Their trees are plentiful and established, offering cool shade and a variety of subtropical and native plantings alongside an abundant orchard featuring more varieties of fruit trees and vines than I have ever seen before.
“There’s kiwifruit, pomegranate, loquat, avocado, nectarine, grape, feijoa…” Helen points them out as we wander. The vegetable and
herb garden is equally bountiful. Tucked away in a shaded corner are beehives, recently positioned by a local beekeeper. Glossy feathered tui flit from tree to tree. The tranquility is resounding and I am truly loathe to leave.
There is much to rave about when it comes to Colleith Lodge. Magnificent views, beautiful surrounds, fabulous food, heavenly bed. Helen and Wayne have created an atmosphere of exceptional hospitality in an environment of serene beauty. Colleith Lodge is the one place in New Zealand where we felt we could completely unwind.
We leave - sadly - though somehow transformed. We are relaxed and content and our hosts have felt like friends. It is hard to say goodbye.
The view from the pool will take your breath away.