At the top of New Zealand's South Island, just 15 minutes north of Nelson, is the perfect all-season escape. Natalie Gruzlewski headed down a dirt road through the hills of Whangamoa Reserve in the Teal Valley to Retiro Farm Lodge and we think she could still be there. She fell in love with the resident llamas and alpacas and their adorable offspring llamacas. Apart from being gentle and appealing, llamas grow very useful wool and are excellent lawn mowers. The family dog Flavia will no doubt win you over too and she loves to follow you around if you allow her.
Retiro is Spanish for "retreat" and is named after a beautiful park in the centre of Madrid. The New Zealand version is a mix of bed and breakfast, lodge and retreat spread over 20 hectares. It has a vineyard and olive and almond groves.
The accommodation is set in gardens with a pool and courtyards and hidden picnic spots are sprinkled throughout the farm.
Guests have the choice of staying in The Barn or the main house. Accommodation in the main house has a queen bed, ensuite, bath and opens onto a patio and pool.
The Barn is separate and has been converted to accommodate two to three people. A private balcony gives views of the vineyard and almond grove.
All guests have use of the main lounge and at the end of the conservatory is a kitchen, so guests can prepare their own meals if they wish. One of the owners is a chef and is always happy to organise meals.
Cable Bay is just 10 minutes north and home to potters, weavers and furniture makes.
Nelson is a short drive to the west and has a golden sandy coastline, forest-clad hills and snowy alpine ranges. It has excellent restaurants serving the area's renowned seafood and New Zealand's top boutique wines. It's also a place where craftspeople are inspired so there is some great shopping to be done.
Retiro Farm Lodge in Nelson, two hours ferry ride and drive from Wellington.
Retiro Farm Lodge costs around $222 for accommodation in the barn or the main house. Full breakfast and drinks on arrival are included. The best time to stay is between November and May.
Air New Zealand has flights to Wellington.
One-way fares from:
- Brisbane and Melbourne
- Sydney $316
- Adelaide $419
- Perth $602
Sales and validity dates apply.
Prices correct at April 2, 2009.
For more information
Air New Zealand
Retiro Park Lodge
152 Teal Valley Road
Ph: +64 3 545 0118
Visas: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.
Electricity: 230V/50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.
Time zone: GMT +12.
Currency: The New Zealand dollar.
International dialling code: +64.
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