Spray Point Station
Marlborough, New Zealand
Matt and I have spent the last few nights down at the cob cottage by the river, and it's such a cool place that it deserves a post of its own. Jenny and Roland, in addition to running sheep and cattle, run a farmstay/retreat business (www.offthemapp.co.nz) that includes options for accomodation, meals, horseback riding, tramping, hunting, drives up through the various valleys, etc. Spray Point Station is also now involved in Carbon Farming, a New Zealand program under which commercial producers of a carbon footprint must equalize their carbon output- in this case, by protecting a valley full of native bush and planting more native trees on other sections of the property. Read more about it on the website, it's really interesting and a pretty awesome environmental move on New Zealand's part.
One of the options for accomodation at Spray Point is the Cob Cottage, which was built in the 1900s as quarters for musterers and drovers bringing sheep down the valley to the station at Molesworth. Roland and Jenny came to this property (the station here was originally established in 1914) seven years ago and have since restored the cottage and furnished it in an attractive combination of rustic and luxurious. In between guests, Jenny offered it up to us for the past three nights, and got to enjoy the most comfortable bed in the world and rings of lantern-light on the ceiling. The cottage is best described with pictures:
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
Note the stuffed possum on the branch above the doorway!
If you enlarge this photo, in the corner by the ceiling you'll see a mud swallow's nest from the birds that lived in the cottage before it was refurbished.
The planks making the counter were once part of the Lyttleton Pier near Christchurch. When they were pulled out, one of the farms up the road bought them and used them to build a holding yard. Several years back, the holding yard was replaced with steel fencing, and Roland saw these planks while visiting there. Some 60 or so years after they were part of a pier, here they are!
These are a very Kiwi touch, a firebath. Most firebaths we've seen have an actual firebox under them, and you rake the coals out before getting in. Roland's take on it is pure genius- just slide a propane grill under the tub, then you can turn the flames to whatever level is needed, and don't have to worry about stoking a fire.
The setting is breathtaking. Matt and I had a lovely firebath here several nights ago, at sunset. The air was FREEZING, but the baths felt amazing the evening light on these hills takes your breath away.
Oh, and there's an outdoor shower (with hot water!) on a platform built right above the river!
There's no nicer chore in the world than washing dishes in this outdoor wooden sink, with the evening light coming down the valley.
Another cool touch: a towel rack made from an old single tree.
In short, if you're ever looking for a high country destination for a getaway, I highly recommend this one. The meals that Jenny serves up are amazing (but not good for vegetarians- we've eaten red meat every single night that we've been here), the family is incredibly welcoming, and there is so much to see, do, and appreciate about this place. If you're not in the market for a getaway, but are traveling the way we are, connect with Roland and Jenny and do a work exchange like we are- they are constantly in need of helpers, with such a huge property and so many pots on the fire. We are learning so much here, and after more than a week, I am still in awe of the views and scenery.