KIWI: Waipoua Lodge, Northland

Welcome to Waipoua Lodge. This grand old dame of a building is a Qualmark rated 5 star guest lodge. Ian and Fran Farrant are the owners and hosts of this wonderful old kauri homestead built in the height of the pioneer period (1900-1914) that’s nestled on a ridge overlooking the vast Waipoua Forest.

AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2012

 

 

On my first day at Waipoua Lodge I was introduced to Holly and Bessy who were in a small enclosure in a corner of the garden. They were two prized native kunekune pedigree pigs and it was feeding time. The minute Ian, my host, came to the gate they were angling to beat each other to the bucket of scraps from the kitchen.

 

Being part of the family has allowed Ian to develop a party trick which they both do for guests . . . it’s to sit on their bums upright as Ian offers them a tasty carrot. Holly it turns out won the best domestic piglet at Royal Easter Show when she was six weeks old but Bessy, her true sister was not such a good specimen. They now each weigh about 70kgs.

 

Welcome to Waipoua Lodge. This grand old dame of a building is a Qualmark rated 5 star guest lodge. Ian and Fran Farrant are the owners and hosts of this wonderful old kauri homestead built in the height of the pioneer period (1900-1914) that’s nestled on a ridge overlooking the vast Waipoua Forest.

 

Waipoua Forest has been home for thousands of years to the oldest and largest known kauri trees in the world. When visiting you’ll discover the ancient kauri trees Tane Mahuta (2,000 years old . . . Tane Mahuta was growing almost at the birth of Jesus Christ) and Te Matua Ngahere (3,000 years old . . . Te Matua Ngahere was growing at the time of bronze age man) plus many other wonderful attractions of the undiscovered natural beauty of the Kauri Coast.

 

Nearby Trounson Kauri Park is a 450-hectare forest reserve restoration project.  It seeks to restore the former richness of native biodiversity this forest once boasted, allowing people to enjoy a glimpse of what pristine kauri forests were once like.

 

In 1890 when the kauri timber industry threatened to wipe out all significant areas of Northland kauri forest, 3.34 hectares were set aside by the government to create a Scenery Preservation Club and an early settler, James Trounson, added a further 22 hectares. Trounson then offered a further 364 hectares and the area was officially opened as Trounson Kauri Park in 1921.

 

A must do treat for many visitors to this remote region is to experience some Maori culture and history and there is no better way that to take a Footprints Waipoua Twilight Tour. On this trip you’ll be walking under the same stars that guided Kupe from legendary Hawaiiki to New Zealand.

 

During the evening you’ll gain an affinity for the early Maori who lived here and the deep spiritual respect they hold for the giants still growing.  This is a great opportunity to learn of the rich bird life and other fauna that inhabits the forest and witness the transitions of life and the day turning into the night. Your Maori guides relate stories and legends of the forest, of its gods and other spiritual inhabitants.

 

Your guides greet the giant trees with spine-tingling waiata (sacred chants). You will also learn how Maori used plants for medicinal purposes. As night falls, the shyest creatures of the forest awaken and begin to go about their work. You may encounter insects like weta, nocturnal birds, eels, freshwater lobsters, or the magnificent but slightly chilling giant carnivorous ‘kauri’ snail.

 

After experiencing the forest by twilight I was quiet happy to relax and experience the hospitality of Ian and Fran in the soothing their relaxing lounge that displays a mixture of yesteryear including artifacts from the kauri logging era. It wasn’t until the following morning that I also realized that they also had four acres of garden and a tranquil bush walk surrounded by pasture and forest.

I also met other members of the Farrant family: two Westhighland white terriers called Hamish and Bonnie, a short haired Birman cat named Mr. McFuggly, a number of Chinese silkie and Sussex brown chooks as well as two unnamed goldfish – apparently there are very fortunate because another six have goon missing. Finally there is a wrought iron goat called Happy Birthday, as it was given to Ian as a present.

 

There are four luxury guest suites located in the historic outbuildings. The Tack Room is a two bedroomed suite that can accommodate up to four people. The Woolshed is a one bedroomed suite accommodating two persons – plus mezzanine floor for two children (suitable for eight years and over). The Calf Pen is a one bedroomed suite accommodating two people. Finally there are  the Stables – a one bedroomed suite accommodating two people. All bedrooms contain a king sized double bed which can be converted into two king single beds

 

If you have a love of food, cooking and entertaining then dining at Waipoua Lodge will be an experience to remember. Fran handles everything in the kitchen and also offers guest one-on-one cooking classes if you are so inclined – it’s what Ian and Fran call ‘a stop and stay experience’ – and after tasting Fran’s home cooked dinner that night I wanted to stop and stay longer.

 

The lodge is the perfect destination for visitors wanting to experience the region, celebrate a special occasion, enjoy a honeymooners retreat or to take the whole family. The best recommendation is when you have hosts like Ian and Fran who focus on the attention to detail and ensure that all guests have a truly memorable stay.

 

 

 

Know Before You Go Info:

 

Waipoua Lodge

Has just been awarded TripAdvisor 2013 Traveller's Choice Award in three categories: Luxury, Service & Small Hotel. The lodge has a growing number of honeymooners booking 2 & 3 night packages – a makes for the perfect romantic retreat. Located 1.5km south of the Waipoua Forest on State Highway 12?or 45km north of Dargaville on State Highway 12

T: +64 9 439 0422, W: www.waipoualodge.co.nz

 

The Kauri Coast is definitely gaining in momentum and loyal following with it’s new website now up and running. Go there and see what you’re missing: www.kauricoast.com

 
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