New Zealand’s South Island has long been an Aussie holiday favourite.
But with dozens of new direct international flights, more and more feature films featuring its dramatic landscapes, and, of course, its increasing popularity on Instagram, recent years have seen the rest of the world catching on.
Alongside hotels, Airbnbs and campgrounds, there are quirky and unique places to stay. Here are six of our favourites, ranging from a glamping shed in the middle of a sheep farm to a tiny, isolated house made entirely of glass.
One of the best-known facts about New Zealand is that it has more sheep than it does people (though the truth is, it has even more cows).
When it comes to quintessential Kiwi stays, Shortlands Shed, on a sheep station, is up there among the best.
Stay in either of its two sheds, Manuka Views and Nobbler Creek. Both are self-catering, so bring your own food to enjoy in front of the fire before heading outside to see sunset from the wood-fired cedar hot tub.
A night at Shortlands Shed starts at $290, but it costs more in high season (summer).
Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses
Live out your Swiss Family Robinson childhood dreams at Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses in the coastal town of Kaikoura, on a sprawling deer farm with snow-capped mountains on one side and a magnificent coastline on the other.
After a swim and sauna next to the lodge’s communal lounge, head back to your tree house for a shower or spa bath taking in the view from its floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Cap off the day with a three-course gourmet dinner, which – like breakfast – is included. Lodge room prices start at $1080 a night, while a night in a tree house will set you back $1188. Rates vary depending on the season.
It took the creators of PurePods eight years to finalise their cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind design.
Because, while designing the tiny house itself wasn’t hard, coming up with ways to make it sustainable while still visually appealing was. Today there are six PurePods, dotted around the South Island in jaw-droppingly beautiful and remote locations.
The PurePods experience starts with emailed instructions about how to get to the house, as well as information on what to bring and what to expect. Spend your time admiring your surroundings through the windows and glass roof, appreciating your company and hopefully – fingers crossed – unwinding.
A night in a PurePods is $590 with a dinner and breakfast package add-on of $149.
Hulbert House Boutique Lodging
When it comes to Queenstown accommodation, visitors are spoilt for choice. For an experience that’s different from the rest, book in at historic lodge Hulbert House.
The restored Victorian villa is perched at the top of a steep street, providing sweeping views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the dramatic mountains beyond.
Cocktails and canapés are offered in the glamorous Palm Lounge from 5-7pm daily and most days either of its owners, Jay and Jade, can be found onsite. The house has six rooms – all are wallpapered, carpeted and enveloped in cosy colonial elegance.
Grand rooms start at $1080 a night; premium rooms are $1140 a night.
Mount Michael Lodge
Central Otago is the sleepier, lesser-known region next to popular Otago, which is home to Queenstown and Wanaka. In Central Otago, Mount Michael Lodge showcases the best of the region: Wine, relaxation and chilled-out adventure.
The four-room, single-floor dwelling is set against a lake and in the middle of a vineyard – so everywhere you look seems to be straight from a postcard.
Soaking in your room’s outdoor spa, swim in the shared pool or curl up with a book in the beautiful high-ceilinged lounge.
Rates start at $500 a night; $700 for the Lakeview Retreat room.
Olivers Central Otago
Also in Central Otago is Olivers Lodge and Stables. Once a family home, the historic building has been renewed by owners Andrea and David Ritchie, who converted it into 11 gorgeous rooms across stables and lodge areas.
After a busy day of cycling the nearby Otago Rail Trail, exploring the tiny town of Clyde or wine-tasting at the surrounding vineyards, head back to Olivers for dinner at its restaurant, followed by a warm bath in your room’s standalone tub. In the morning, wake for a made-to-order and buffet breakfast.
Rates start at $255 a night. A deluxe family suite will set you back $575.