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Inside the South Island's new glamping village

Inside the South Island’s new glamping village

Just the two of us. A hot tub.

Some bubbles. A thousand or so lambs.

And the Kaikoura Ranges. 

This has got to be ground-zero of zen; there is nothing to do here but relax.

 

We’re near the rural town of Cheviot, between Christchurch and Kaikoura, up in the lush rolling coastal hills. Here, in the corner of a farm, is a little glamping village – and the setting is a celebration of everything New Zealand.

Even the hills are alive with the sound of music, and our particular choir is the thousand or so lambs camped out in the nearby paddock.

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You may have seen the viral Youtube video, goats yelling like humans.

I hear you, it sounds like the lowest form of entertainment there is, but it’s seriously funny. And our flock of sheep is giving those goats a serious run for their money.

 

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In the middle of it all is us, soaking away in a big cedar hot tub, giggling at the sheep.

As if the mountains are envious of the attention, they start to glow pink in the last light of the day, highlighting a thick layer of fresh snow.

We both stop speaking; it’s the kind of moment where nature’s grandeur does the talking.

Tawanui Farm Glamping has just opened, a labour of significant love by the Loughnan family; they built it all in their spare time over the past two years. After a recent drought, the family decided to diversify and opened up their large sheep and deer farm to glamping.

And they’ve nailed it.

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Unlike most other glamorous camping setups across the country, this retreat can cater for up to eight people in a single group.

The camp has two lotus belle tents and a main hut with a kitchen and shower – all in a rustic minimalist style.

Then there’s the pes de resistance – a large hot tub out the front, overlooking the farm and mountains. 

While the village fits up to eight, it will only rent to one group at a time, so if it’s just a couple, you’ll have the place to yourself.

Barring the sheep. Yes, I know, terrible pun.

I get on a roll, and it becomes pretty in-tents. 

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With limited reception, no power (apart from a USB for charging your phone) – it’s the perfect place to unwind without the modern world getting in the way.

If you do want some adventure, the family also run a jet boating company up the nearby Hurunui River.

They can even bring a barbecue, and cook some of the best local produce on the side of the river during your trip. Or you can do a farm tour on their new six-seater bike; we watched as the dogs rounded up sheep with laser-like precision.

 

The most entertaining activity was the one we least expected: llama trekking. I assumed this would mean riding a llama, but after a quick Google discovered this is pretty much impossible.

How Auckland of me to think that.

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Instead, llama trekking involves strapping a satchel on your new-found furry friend, with lunch inside, and walking your llama on a farm safari. That sounds a little tedious, but actually getting to know your animal while wandering the hills was full of laughs, and anything but boring.

Keith Payne, the llama keeper, has more than 50 on a nearby farm and is the country’s top expert. I resisted an overwhelming urge to name mine the Dalai llama.

I told you, I’m a serious pun-ter.

Three days glamping, getting back to nature, was a much-needed reset from our ever-connected world.

I remember the days when you sat down with Windows 95, waited for that glorious screeching from the dial-up modem to stop, which meant the Internet was about to magically arrive. A new world was here.

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Now, 20 years later, the real world is a much-needed break from the digital one.

And it’s places like Tawanui Farm that help you appreciate just how beautiful that real world is. 

More information:

Getting there:

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Tawanui Farm is just over an hour’s drive from Christchurch or 15 minutes away from Cheviot. 

Staying there:

Prices start at $240 per couple, plus an additional $40 per adult.

 

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See: canopycamping.

co.nz/tawanuifarm

The author was a guest of Canopy Camping

.

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