Kaimata Retreat, New Zealand

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am

Where is it? Perched high on a cliff on the Otago Peninsula of New Zealand's South Island, Kaimata Retreat is a distant escape from the modern world. Nonetheless, the city of Dunedin is only 40 minutes' drive away.

Is it back to basics? Nature provides the setting with lush green hills, pristine waters and a plethora of wild life for the soundtrack. The retreat itself is far from basic, however. Made from locally milled macrocarpa, the three-bedroom shrine to eco design has been built from scratch. The caretakers and owners, Kyle and Rachel, live in a nearby cottage with their three children, a pet dog and a blind chicken.

Tell me more: the house is set on two hectares and floor-to-ceiling windows ensure nature takes pride of place. A wraparound deck and landscaped courtyard provide plenty of outdoor space while an open stone fireplace inside keeps guests warm in winter. The interior features soothing muted tones enriched by the luxe textures of imported carpets, copper and exposed wood. Works by local artists line the walls and the well-stocked fridge is filled with regional produce such as central Otago wines and Bluff oysters. The dining area seats eight and the open-plan kitchen has all mod cons. Local chefs can be brought in for dinner parties or guests can cook for themselves.

Where do I sleep? The bedrooms are named after native birds that visit the property: Korimako, Kahu and Kotare. Each comes with underfloor heating, en-suite bathrooms stocked with bath products by New Zealand brand Living Nature and great views.

What is there to do? Everything and nothing. Grab a book and curl up by the fire, lounge on the deck in the sun, wander the hills, visit the nearby castle or take an adventure safari with Farmer Dave, who owns the neighbouring property - 400 hectares of prime farmland on the rugged coast. He also owns Papanui Beach, home to the yellow-eyed penguin - the most endangered of the species - sea lions and fur and elephant seals.

What's the bottom line? Nightly rates for the entire retreat range from NZ$550 (HK$3,250) in winter to NZ$750. Individual rooms start at NZ$190.

Kaimata Retreat is at 297 Cape Saunders Road, Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand, tel: 64 3 456 3443; www.kaimatanz.com.