The problem with hotels calling themselves ‘green’ is that most of them aren’t. Running an ‘eco’ hotel involves a lot more than putting in solar panels or saving water by not washing guests’ towels. Which is why, when you come across hoteliers who are passionate about sustainability, and have created their dream home, it is, quite literally, a breath of fresh air.
The English owners of the Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge worked in business strategy and IT. After a spell in France, Clare de Carteret-Bisson and Peter Adams “tried retirement but got bored” so moved to New Zealand to “look for a plot of land”. It took five years to find a Maori artists’ studio in 50 acres of gardens in the South Island, on the edge of the Kahurangi National Park. Within months, they had gutted the house and started to build bush lodges.
Fourteen years on, they have not just created a luxury eco-retreat but Peter has also established trees native to the valley and bush habitats to encourage birds and endemic species. There are six chalets and four lodge rooms. Each chalet comes with a state of the art kitchen, including a breakfast from Clare’s home-made muesli to fresh eggs and cheese from a local farm. Pure spring water emerges from the taps. The Hobbit is among the books on the shelves and I later discover that one slept in my bed, when the actors including Sir Ian McClellan – who “had to get up at 3am to fit his prosthetics” – stayed there. On the deck there is barbeque equipment, while a hot tub and pool sit next to the main lodge.
Sail-like awnings shield each lodge from the sun. Should you want to phone home or watch TV, wifi is accessed via an orbiting geo-satellite located 22,000 miles over the Indian Ocean.
Dinner at 7pm, following canapés on the veranda, is cooked by Clare’s nephew Sam. Those who want to can dine with other guests on a communal table. Wines, of course, are local. Dress is informal.
Peter has marked out ‘bush tracks’ to follow on foot or by mountain bike. The nearby Abel Tasman National Park and coastal path is one of the most beautiful in New Zealand. The source of the Riwaka River, or ‘resurgence’, is a place revered by the local Maori as sacred. An underground river emerges from beneath Takaka Hill filling a pool darkened by overhanging ferns, before tumbling down the valley.
There is a plaque: “It is by the rivers, that we know who we are.” At the lodge, you have plenty of space to think about it.
Cost: DB&B £334 (two nights minimum stay). The Lodge is closed 16 April-14 October
574 Riwaka Valley Road, RD3 Motueka, Nelson Region, 7198, New Zealand +64 3 528 4664