A farm-style experience about an hour from Christchurch, Okuti Garden caters to travelers who love to create and play. An art box encourages crafting; a communal guitar invites guests to fingerpick the night’s soundtrack; “tree circles” are great for yoga and meditation; and a small lake features a boat popular among readers and small children. Bohemian accommodations include yurts, a tepee, a caravan, and a cabin. Each is homespun and handmade, decorated with drawings, wind chimes, and dream catchers left by former guests.
The property is completely off grid, relying on composting toilets, a solar shower, and a gray-water system that recycles wastewater to irrigate the wetlands. One area of the wetlands grows willow rods, which are woven into arches, domes, and tunnels—turning waste into wonders.
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Okuti Garden is located on the artsy and agricultural Banks Peninsula about five minutes from Little River. Artists, healers, musicians, and poets as well as all types of food producers populate the area. There are dozens of bays, amazing wildlife, walks through pasture and regenerating forest, and independent businesses—from art galleries to Barry’s Bay Cheese—everywhere one looks. The Little River Rail Trail is a bikeway that follows an old rail line from Little River to Christchurch. Travelers can rent a bike in Little River, and check out the Little River Gallery while they’re at it.
Need to Know
Rooms: 4 yurts, 1 tepee, 1 house truck, 1 cabin. From $40 per person, plus $8 for linen. Guests age 5 to 15 receive half off. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options:Dining is do-it-yourself, but herbs were planted around the outdoor kitchen so guests can spice up their cooking. The Hilltop Tavern is a 15-minute drive. Spa and gym details:Nature is the gym here, inviting guests to walk, hike, or do yoga among the trees.
Who's it best for: The curious, the playful, the free-spirited, and the young at heart. It’s a great place for family gatherings as well. Our favorite rooms: The four yurts have doors and wooden floors as well as plush beds covered in tribal tapestries, offering a more comfortable style of camping. Fresh-cut flowers welcome guests on arrival. Plan ahead: Okuti Garden is all about the outdoors, so it’s best to visit in summer. Guests should book well in advance to stay between Christmas and the end of January.