Welcome to Grasmere Lodge

Grasmere Lodge — where luxury and natural splendour come together in the heart of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, to form what one international guest described as “a whole other world of peacefulness & serenity.”  Grasmere Lodge is tucked away in the heart of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, an approximately 90 minutes drive from Christchurch city in the glorious South Island of New Zealand.

Built in 1858, the original limestone homestead, now the core of the lodge, introduces you to the style of personal pampering that earned the Harper’s Hideaway Report Grand Award in 1998.

At the same time this traditional New Zealand high country station (ranch), set amid towering 7000 ft peaks, provides a wide range of outdoor activities for those seeking a more adventurous interlude.

Grasmere Lodge also offers a richness of traditional New Zealand hospitality. Owner, Tom Butler, and his staff epitomise New Zealand friendliness and generosity of spirit. Together they take great delight in sharing the magic of Grasmere with their guests.

Every exclusive New Zealand lodge is unique; each offers something entirely different in both setting and accommodation style.  It is futile to say that one is better than the other – that would be comparing apples with pears – but it is fair to say that Grasmere Lodge does have an indefinable quality that isn’t replicated anywhere else in New Zealand.

By virtue of its dramatic location near Arthurs Pass, its ever-changing climate and its unashamed emphasis on quality and quiet comfort, Grasmere will always be an unparalleled experience.

It is a proud member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, the Lodge Association of New Zealand, and Select Hotels and Resorts.

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CNN Says New Zealand is the Place to be

New Zealand has been named the second best place to be by in 2011 by the global broadcasting network CNN.

CNN, which consulted Lonely Planet US editor Robert Reid, guidebook creator Pauline Frommer and travel firm executive Martin Rapp, said the Rugby World Cup was adding excitement to an already popular destination.

“Wellington, which brands itself as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, will host some of the activities and hopes to attract fans who want to explore other parts of the country,” CNN reported.

It quoted Reid as saying Wellington was “a great kind of springboard” and that he was planning a visit and determined to learn the haka.

CNN said the film industry was thriving in New Zealand, referring to Sir Peter Jackson’s latest work on The Hobbit and his success with The Lord of the Rings.

The network said Rapp also recommended New Zealand for its “most fantastically luxurious lodges”, including The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay, Huka Lodge near Taupo and Otahuna Lodge in Canterbury.

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Otahuna Lodge Re-Opens

Otahuna Lodge has re-opened its doors and extends a very warm welcome to its first guests four months after the 7.1-magnitude earthquake in Canterbury, New Zealand.

The earthquake restoration programme of 115-year-old Otahuna is thus far the most advanced undertaken to any heritage building in the wider Canterbury region.  A daily average of more than 40 tradesmen, engineers and architects have been working onsite since September, focusing on roof repairs, seismic strengthening and the re-creation – in both brick and lightweight construction – of Otahuna’s eleven Victorian stepped chimneys.

“Our goal in rebuilding the chimneys in such a fashion was of course to recreate the original architectural whimsy of their respective profiles,” says Managing Director Hall Cannon, “while also recording the effects of such a major event on the building’s celebrated history.  Our vision for Otahuna has always been for the property to shine as an example of how careful architectural conservation can enrich a contemporary environment.” 

All of Otahuna’s 15 wood-burning fireplaces, including 8 in the Lodge’s suites, have been restored to their previous condition. 

“The team is thrilled to be resuming normal operations and looking after our guests as before,” says Cannon.  “We would like to thank our guests too, many of whom have postponed their holiday in order to be able to include a stay at Otahuna after our 10th January re-opening.”

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New Zealand Hotels on Travel & Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels for 2010

Travel & Leisure has released their 2010 list of the world’s top 500 best hotels, including five in New Zealand:

  • Westin Auckland Lighter Quay (Auckland)
  • The George (Christchurch)
  • The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs (Matauri Bay) – in the top 25!
  • Huka Lodge (Taupo)
  • Farm at Cape Kidnappers (Te Awanga) – in the top 25!

Click here to see the full list.

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New Zealand’s South Island

 

I had the chance to visit New Zealand on an 8 night escorted tour of the South Island (round trip out of Christchurch).   

Some of New Zealand’s stunning countryside

My adventure started on a Tuesday as I boarded my 4 1/2 hour non-stop flight from Nashville to Los Angeles. I then had a 5 hour layover in Los Angeles before catching a red-eye flight on Qantas. The Qantas flight took approximately 12 hours to get us to Auckland, New Zealand. In the process we crossed the International Date Line and completely skipped a day, landing in Auckland at 8:10 AM on Thursday. After clearing immigrations and customs we had a 4 hour layover in Auckland before boarding our JetStar flight to Christchurch. That was a reasonably short flight (less than an hour and a half) arriving at 2 PM. We were greeted at the airport by our tour manager and tour driver. Once we loaded all of our luggage onboard the motor coach they took us to the center of Christchurch where we had about an hour and a half to explore, shop, and sightsee. It was then time to check into our hotel and start our adventure!   

Morning view from Lake Ohau Lodge

 

Our first night in Christchurch was at Bealey’s Hotel followed by one night at the Ohau Lodge at Lake Ohau, one night onboard the Milford Wander in Milford Sound, three nights in Queenstown at the Aspen on Queenstown, one night at the Rainforest Retreat in Franz Joseph, and a final night back in Christchurch at Bealey’s Hotel. All of the accommodations were more than comfortable with twin or double beds and private facilities in each room, with a variety of amenities (some but not all of the hotels offered hair dryers, televisions, phones, clock/radios, and wi-fi access). The one exception was the Milford Wander, which was quad accommodations. But let’s be honest, when you are in New Zealand you’ll barely be in your hotel room, so don’t waste your money on higher end accommodations. The hotels used on our tour were perfect for this trip.   

All of our transportation was onboard the motor coach which was very comfortable and included a charging station (for MP3 players, digital cameras, iPods, etc.), and an onboard bathroom. We drove through some amazing countryside, and had plenty of opportunities to stop, take pictures, stretch our legs,sightsee, eat, and shop for souvenirs.      

New Zealand is an absolutely awe-inspiring, beautiful country, with stunning scenery everywhere. It is also the adventure capitol of the world, offering just about every form of death-defying adventure imaginable, including Bungy Jumping, Canyon Swinging (for those that think Bungy Jumping is too tame), sky diving, heli-biking, heli-skiing, and Zorbing. Looking for local culture? You don’t have to look far. The native culture in New Zealand are the Maoris. We were able to attend the Kiwi Haka show in Queenstown at the Skyline Restaurant, but you can find Maori culture on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.   

The deep turquoise water from glacier run-off

 

 Some of our group took the opportunity to Bungy Jump off Kawarau Bridge (43 meters), where AJ Hackett started the phenomenon over 20 years ago (due to knee issues I passed on that opportunity). Bungy Jumping is actually very safe. They have never had a fatality or injury in all the years they’ve operated at Kawarau Bridge. Once we reached Queenstown the sightseeing and adventure really kicked in … some folks did a 134 meter Bungy Jump in Queenstown, went Canyon Swinging, horseback riding, jet boating, white water rafting, visited sites where Lord of the Rings was filmed (totally breathtaking!), and some of us even braved tandem sky-diving (ok, that’s one that I actually did!).    

The amazing beauty of Milford Sound make it worth the trek to get there.

 

And when the day was over, Queenstown has 45 different bars / clubs and an abundance of restaurants to keep the nightlife hopping. We maybe visited 1% of them (The Buffalo Club, Winnie’s, Minus 5 Ice Bar, and an Irish Pub among them). If you want an incredible view with your dinner, take the gondola up to the Skyline Restaurant, overlooking Queenstown, and enjoy a wonderful all-you-can-eat buffet dinner with your view. And after dinner, don’t miss the Kiwi Haka show!     

Overall, visiting New Zealand is an unbelievable, life changing experience. Any vacation can give you a break from your daily routine, but it takes a special kind of vacation to give you back your life. In New Zealand you can rediscover the things you love about yourself and the planet you live on, with fresh scenery, clean air and amazing adventures. In this southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find breathing space, a change of pace and experiences that will recharge your batteries. And because the US dollar goes so far in New Zealand, your vacation won’t be spoiled by the nagging feeling that you’re spending too much.  

The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo is the most photographed church in New Zealand, because of the awe-inspiring scenery that servces as the back drop.

 

New Zealand is like a set of living postcards. The South Island has fiords, glaciers, sky-scraping mountains, alpine lakes, braided rivers, rainforest and vast quilts of verdant farmland. The North Island is blessed with volcanoes (extinct, dormant and active), crater lakes, geothermal areas, beautiful harbours, fabulous beaches and sub-tropical forests. Finding beautiful places that are just as nature intended them to be is incredibly easy. Even in Auckland, the country’s largest city, you can reach wild places in just 30 minutes by sea or road.    

In New Zealand you’ll have both the time and the opportunity to tick some of those “things I want to do before I die” items off of your Bucket List. Have you always wanted to shoot rapids in a raft or skydive over snow-capped mountains? Would you like to float through caves or walk on glaciers? Or do you simply crave the pleasure of relaxing in a geothermal hot spring or watching the sunrise over a serene lake, without another person in sight? Their population is just 4.5 million and yet they have a land area greater than the state of Colorado, so crowds and lines are hard to find. If you dream it, New Zealand has it. 

Are you ready to get your life back? Give us a call at (888) 221-1209 for help planning your New Zealand get-away.   

Sunset over Queenstown

 

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