At a Glance
A ten-minute drive north of seaside epicenter Kaikoura, Hapuku is a serene haven flanked by a deer farm and olive groves, and is known for its uber-cool treehouses.
- The beautiful views stretching across an olive grove, fields and towards the sea
- The cool-factor of waking up in room on stilts surrounded by trees
- Showering with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Kaikoura Bay
- The lovely staff, headed by managers Chris and chef Fiona who have run Hapuku for years and who have a real passion for the area
If Hapuku Lodge, one of New Zealand’s most renowned, feels a little like stepping into a childhood dream, that’s because it is. Growing up in Wellington, owner Tony Wilson was passionate about building treehouses with his brothers, and so this lodge grew from the idea of creating a permanent way of waking up surrounded by branches and leaves. The Swiss Family Robinson–style structures – there are five – look cool on pictures but not until you’re standing in one can you fully appreciate the whimsy.
The boxy, wooden rooms are elevated on high stilts and marvelously framed by native New Zealand trees and vegetation (for every guest who checks in, the lodge plants a native tree). Clad in wooden slats and branches, the houses blend into the vegetation to a point – remaining freestanding enough so that views around them are uninterrupted. And what views they are. The back of the room, outfitted with two rocking chairs and a wood-burning fireplace, overlook the pastures and fields of Hapuku’s deer farm, while the front of them, housing a stunning bathroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, look toward the blues of the sea. And even though the treehouses are relatively close together, the design and landscaping makes for privacy.
Interiors are bright and cheerful, with loads of tree references, including a green-painted ceiling, wooden slabs as headboards, even branch-shaped handles on the furniture. A small balcony affords great star-gazing opportunities, as does the large Jacuzzi bathtub. The floor plan is open, so the bathrooms leads seamlessly into the bedroom which culminates in the sitting corner with the fireplace. Two of the Treehouses also have a downstairs bedroom, a great choice for families.
For those traveling with a family, know that the Hapuku treehouses are surely the accommodations kids will remember the most during their New Zealand trip. And everyone will appreciate the lodge's wonderful cuisine and the fact that friendly manager Chris Sturgeon is passionate about the Kaikoura area and can happily make recommendations on what to see and do during a visit, including where to see baby seals, go sea kayaking and embark on fishing excursions.
Who Should Stay
Families and couples interested in visiting Kaikoura, home to the South Island's ocean wildlife (whale watches, swimming with dolphins, seal colonies etc).
Ideal Length of Stay
Two nights is enough time for exploring Kaikoura environs.
From Christchurch, Hapuku is a 2.5 hour drive north up the coast. From Nelson, it's a three-hour drive.
Written by Simone Girner