Sunday, 6 November 2016

Gypsy Camping Wairarapa

Gypsy River Camping

Gypsy River Camping in the Wairarapa is so unexpected. This is a camp consisting of  hand made gypsy caravans - three of them in all -  plus a cook house, in a characteristic gypsy style semicircle grouped around a campfire. This is the perfect gypsy get-away. These charming little caravans of many colours are in the back of a field, not so far from a pleasant river, surrounded by tall willows and verdant pastures.


The gypsy camp is charming. There are three sleeping caravans plus a cookhouse and bathroom. One of the vans even has its own pot belly stove and electricity. The others are for you to enjoy the candlelight -  and the campfire light if the weather is kind. 

The kitchen has everything you could need including some delightful surprises: - Was that three tins of fresh baking ready to be devoured?? More than I might achieve in a year or three. Outside there is the barbecue all gassed up and ready to use-  and inside you will find every condiment and utensil you might possibly require to cook the perfect gypsy meal. What's more there are games for the bored, and for breakfast the fun of making toast over a retro frame on the gas stove. All your breakfast needs are supplied.





The bedroom caravan with the bunks is full of colour, not to mention luminescent stars in the deep blue internal sky.


Outside there is space to romp; space for games . What's more there is a flying fox and a giant swing to make the most of, as well as canoes if the river is playing ball. The outside bath is tucked into a private dell surrounded by bushes and flaxes. Your host will light the fire for you and show you the tricks of achieving a perfect bath. Here is a clue. Do not keep stoking the fire too close to bath time....








 Once the summer season has settled, the fairy lights come out to add an even more magical touch.

There is nothing more perfect than a bath under the stars and a campfire on a balmy night.  The gypsy camp is near to Masterton but it might as well be a million miles away.

It is a wonderful way to spend some time.This is the kind of place that needs a repeat performance.



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Friday, 28 October 2016

The Dog Box - Funky Whanganui Accommodation

The Whanganui Dog Box


A night in the Dog Box does not sound like something you would want to experience. Were you banned from the house for the night? Were you being punished? Did it involve sleeping on the couch or worse still on the front veranda? This may not be so bad if the dog box you must spend the night in is in Whanganui, and the weather is warm, and the skies are kind.


The Dog Box in Whanganui is a modern architectural creation put together by a group of students fresh out of architecture school who understood that good architecture did not have to be expensive, did not have to be predictable and did not have to be a carbon copy of its neighbours. These particular students took a number of short cuts in the interests of economy. They looked for materials on line which could be useful but which no-one seemed to want: example, trusses -  discarded by someone and now a bright blue feature of this home.


They looked for a section in Whanganui and found that they could afford zilch. Solution - give up? Not likely . Instead they found a section that nobody wanted; - too steep, too inhospitable, - too hard. They  made the section their own. The stairs were still needed. Maybe they seemed irrelevant especially  if they had already lived in Wellington ....








The House of Dogness in Whanganui  was built with love, with determination, with semi- starvation, and with great success. It is exuberant, joyous and delightful. The huge windows slip slide away to one side or the other. |The decks are part corridor, part living space. |The materials are raw and unadulterated. Concrete is undisguised. Plywood is rich and natural. Perspex - yes perspex - turns out to be an exciting building material.








The Dog Box is now a short stay rental accommodation.  With its extensive decks jutting at angles, its outstanding hang out spaces and its fabulous summer feel, all I can say is if you are heading up towards the central north island for a break, this is the place to go.




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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Mangaweka - a Heartland Stopover

Mairenui Rural Retreat







Mairenui Rural Retreat is not what you would expect to find deep in the farm country of the central North Island and not too far from the dramatic waterfalls and stunning scenery of the Rangitikei Gorge.

This is a quirky cottage, architect designed by John Comeskey in the 1970s. The style is one you will see around New Zealand and in Wellington in particular. The house twists around a sturdy brick core which rises up through the centre. The circular stairway winds its way up through the brick tower and ends in a ladder. This ladder takes you to the second bedroom tucked into a loft at the top of the house.













This house is all about odd angles, exposed timbers, hefty beams, bricks and arches. Cut outs upstairs look down onto the sitting room below.  Part sunken lounge, this sitting room is clustered around the wood burner stove which warms the entire house. This stove will be lit for you and pumping out its radiant warmth if you arrive in the colder months. Lovely!




This is a farmland property and outdoors there are beautiful old trees - a 700 year old stand of native trees in fact. Across the fields there is a visible rift which drops away to a gully and small stream below. The drive to Mairenui will take you past stunning tall waterfalls which plummet steeply to the Rangtikei river.






















Mairenui Rural Retreat is faintly reminiscent of the castles and forts of centuries gone by. The brick barrel core and the arched windows conjure up visions of the past and create a touch of  medieval drama to awaken the imagination.







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Saturday, 21 May 2016

Featherston Historic Stables

The Headmaster's Stables

In the south of the Wairarapa is Featherston - a small town, quiet except for the rumble of a train from time to time. In Featherston the cafes come and go, the shops shy away from mainstream and lean further towards the niche market. Crafts, crystals and quality cheeses can be found. 


The Headmaster's House in Featherston is a grand old house, two storied and dignified, as befits a headmaster who would in those days have been a recognized pillar of the community. This house was built in the 1880s and would certainly have been a very grand family home at that time. Today it has a category II heritage listing in place.


Behind the Headmaster's House stands a building which was once the stable for the grand house in front. This old stable has been subject to much loving care and is now converted into charming cottage accommodation. The cottage is ivy clad and appealing. It is compact yet not crowded. Its loft-bedroom sits under a steep gable roof and the bedroom is all the more attractive with its complex folded ceiling lines. 


Downstairs the bright Mexican- inspired colours make the decor warm and inviting. Small ball-lights decorate the steep stairs. An eye catching original painting picks up the colours of the settees and the rug. There is no kitchen but breakfast provisions are there for you, and so too, is an excellent bottle of local sparkling wine. Much appreciated!

Wrapped around one side of the cottage is a sheltered porch, a chimenea, and mountains of wood ready to use. This is a cottage with lots of charm and heaps of personality in its quirky ornaments and eclectic style, - even  a horse shoe found from the original stable decorates one wall. A good place to spend a night.


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Monday, 2 May 2016

The Spaceship - Nelson

     Beam Me Up

Pippy McCurdy
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Ever thought about spending a night in a spaceship? This you can do if you choose to go to Nelson, because on a high hill overlooking the harbour entrance, aliens have landed! Well to be more factual this is actually a Futuro House produced in New Zealand in the 1970s - but it is surely as close to sleeping in a spaceship as anyone who hasn't been abducted by aliens is ever likely to get.



Futuro Houses were  designed by the Finnish architect Matti Suuronen and sold around the world for a short time. Of 96 altogether, twelve were fabricated under license in New Zealand. Only a handful remain.

The Futuro in Nelson is a gleaming white saucer but in the dusky light of  evening it glows a warm gold amongst the flowers and bushes of a charming hillside garden.

 Entry into the Futuro is by fold out porthole steps. The oval windows stare out unblinking but inside the cabin is comfortable and warm. Furniture remains almost unchanged from its original assembly, it would seem. Circular shaped furniture is of course not that easy to come by -  meaning that any change in style would necessitate custom made selections. Hence 70s style predominates.




The Nelson Futuro has great views. It has a generous garden and plenty of outdoor spaces. Slightly above is a second building - this time a small cottage with a sheltered deck overgrown with climbers laden with flowers and colour. With a barbecue handily situated on the deck this cottage is the ideal spot perched just high enough to look out over the Futuro and capture the harbour views below.




Staying in a spaceship is an experience not to be missed and has to be recommended. The Nelson Futuro only seems to be available occasionally. I would say make the most of the chance if you find it free on one of these occasions.




Friday, 1 April 2016

Auckland House Boat

 Afloat in Beach Haven


Pippy McCurdy

http://www.unusualstays.com/
http://italyoffthebeatentrack.blogspot.co.nz/2016/01/italy-off-beaten-track.html

The sprawling city of Auckland provides so many types of accommodation; so many places to stay...but not so much in the way of unusual accommodation. However it is there, if you look for it. On the North Shore there is a unique option tucked away - visible never from the street, only from the water. This special offering is The Houseboat at Beach Haven.


The Houseboat is tied up to its new jetty close to the shore, afloat on about four hours of the tide each day, otherwise resting comfortably on the water's edge. It becomes a fascinating moment as the hull kicks into life and floats up on the incoming tide.


The cabin and sleeping facilities are pleasantly comfortable on the boat. However it is up on the top deck relaxing and watching the sun set, the moon rise, or day break that is the most rewarding place to be. The steps down to the jetty are secure enough, but they are a work in progress.



 One suspects there is more to come for the Houseboat yet.


Saturday, 6 February 2016

Upper Hutt Accommodation - The Akatarawa Tree Hut

The Tree Hut


Pippy McCurdy

http://www.unusualstays.com/
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The fabulous thing about Air BnB is that you never know what you are going to get.
The Tree Hut in the Akatarawas  is exactly as it's photos suggest - a wonderful little tree hut, perched happily halfway up a tall tree. As solid as a rock it could not feel safer. The leaves rustle outside in a typical Wellington breeze, but your perch will not cause you even a moment's concern. Like an old sailing ship an occasional gentle creak reminds you that this is not quite on land - in fact it is probably better.


The Tree Hut is lofty enough to provide an expansive view out over the homestead rooftop to the Akatarawas beyond. A short walk down a track and across some farmland leads to the river and a truly inviting looking swimming hole. If only the sun was shining just a little warmer ....


Inside the hut is a cosy space large enough for a double bed, and room to move around. The deck outside is the ideal place to roost and a veranda provides shelter should the weather gods frown. Other facilities are in the nearby farmhouse. An outdoor firebath looked tempting - but not tempitng enough to compensate for being in full view of the house.


This is Airbnb so as is often the case, the family was there to interact with , and what a bonus -  there was a sitting-room concert taking place with an international musician as a guest of honour. Mark White is one of only a few players of the Chapman Stick in the world. This was one of the great Stumble-Upon moments.