Drinking in the beauty of the high country, Mike Yardley visits two locations
THE GOLDEN HEARTLAND OF Selwyn positively glows around Lake Coleridge. For an indelible encounter with high country farming, I headed for Middle Rock Station for a riveting farm tour experience. Bordered by the braided Rakaia River, the property farms more than 7000 Corriedale sheep producing fine wool for the apparel trade and export lamb for international meat markets. There's also farm stay accommodation available in The Shearers' Quarters, if you want to stay over.
Owners, Bruce and Lyn Nell, have farmed Middle Rock since 1973. Recently they have been joined by their daughter, Charlotte and her husband, Vince.
Middle Rock has scooped a variety of awards in recognition of their regenerative practises and love of the land.
Charlotte is an effervescent tour guide and raconteur, who will have you enthralled as you delve into this majestic kingdom of Middle Rock.
After helping Bruce, Charlotte and her children traffic-manage the relocation of a flock of a sheep, I was intrigued by the sight of the natural landmark that inspired the station's name.
Middle Rock is a “glacial floater,” a monstrous living-room-sized rock that protrudes southwards out of the top of hill on the station.
Ten minutes west of Middle Rock brings you to the evocative village of Lake Coleridge, edging the eastern fringes of the vast body of water. Home to the government's first's hydroelectric power station, the Coleridge Power Station was completed in 1914 and built mainly to supply power to Christchurch.
Over 100 years on, the station generates about 4 per cent of New Zealand's hydro power. You can size up the power station from all perspectives on the walking trails edging the lake.
A sublime stroll to take is the Hart Arboretum Tree Trail.
The arboretum was created by Harry Hart, superintendent at the power station from 1923 to 1953.
Over a number of decades he planted the area with many of the world's conifers. His stirring legacy graces the village today with plentiful shade and pitch-perfect picnic spots under his prized specimens.
In 1915 a ‘show home' was built near the power station as an example of an allelectric home. The Electric Cottage is privately owned today, but can still be seen on a walk around the village. It's been immaculately restored and is truly chocolate-box gorgeous.
Just prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, my family enjoyed a memorable stay at Terrace Downs to celebrate my father's 70th birthday.
Wreaking havoc on many major hotel operations, the pandemic triggered the
closure of the revered high country resort, so it's very uplifting to see Terrace Downs re-opened, revitalised and humming again, under its new owners, CPG Hotels.
Perched on the edge of the striking Rakaia River and at the foot of Mount Hutt, the wide open vistas of rugged ridges, rolling hills and undulating tussockmopped terrain all combine to accentuate the irrepressible setting for Terrace Downs.
Gilded by the slumping sun to the west, that's when the entire scene rockets into the pinch-yourself realm.
It's as dreamy as reality gets. Situated on 222ha of classic high country, peace and seclusion come naturally at this resort.
With deluxe one to three bedroom villa accommodation, award-winning cuisine and an impressive selection of resortoperated leisure and adventure activities, headlined by the 18-hole championship golf course, Terrace Downs is unquestionably a destination unto itself.
My self-contained villa with private
balcony was perfectly poised overlooking the stupendous alpine scenery, from where I drunk in the elemental brilliance of the landscape and the ever-changing light.
Comforts and indulgence are laid on thick from the raised spa bath to the spacious living room and cloudcomfortable beds. If your measure for great accommodation is the sense of a home away from home, Terrace Downs hits it out of the park.
You'll find yourself being seduced by those sparkling alpine views as you dine at The Clubhouse restaurant, which is open for in-house guests and visitors alike, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and all-day snacks.
You can dine fireside or out on the deck, if the weather is wooing you outdoors. You've got ample option for evening dining but I highly recommend their two or three course set menu. Spoil yourself with a spot of affordable high country luxury. www. cpghotels.com