Re­lax­ation AT ITS FINEST

Colleith Lodge in the Coro­man­del is well worth the de­tour, writes Emma Dar­ragh

Go Travel New Zealand - - Coromandel -

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.

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