The Australian Financial Review May 2010 - Otahuna Luxury Lodge New Zealand


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Otahuna Luxury Lodge New Zealand situated at the head of a secluded valley on New Zealand’s South Island.

Read about Otahuna Lodge in the May 2010 of the Australian Financial Review

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The Australian Financial Review May 2010 - Otahuna Luxury Lodge New Zealand

  1. 1. lifetime KiwiWATCH LuxeTHISForget the correct time: it’sthe right watch that matters.Yo u ’ r e a young financier, anxious fora bit of water-cooler cred, mindful of theimpression you make in the cappuccinoqueue. So what are you wearing underthat shirt cuff to create the right vibewhen you casually glance at the time? Well, here’s the mail: that big-man, Watchbig-watch thing is suddenly looking Luxedecidedly yesterday. Forget the platter-size Audemars Piguet Offshore RubensBarrichello or the monster TW Steel youthought you’d got away with; the newsuave is recessive. Blame the same cyclethat saw flares give way to slimlines: thenew trend in timers is something thatshouts taste, refinement and restraint.This year’s crop is full of pieces you’llhardly know you’ve strapped on. So it’s out with the sharp and showy, PARADISE regainedin with the shy and shapely. Among thestandouts, there’s a new Explorer 1 fromRolex. It’s a little larger at 39mm than thealmost identical 36mm model it replaces,but if you want the definitive three-hand A Garden of National Significance gong has sealed Otahuna’s re-emergence.time-teller, this may be it. Top marksfor legibility, and likewise for bystanderrecognition and envy. Then there’s competitor Cartier with W hen Miles Refo first stumbled upon the garden of Otahuna Lodge – in a secluded valley on New Zealand’s South commune, Otahuna had shrunk to a fraction of the original 2000-hectare arcadia that was once the domain of parliamentarian,its own monumentally modest Calibre Island – it reminded him of Frances Hodgson pastoralist and developer Sir Heaton Cartier, a 42mm model housing a Burnett’s Victorian novel, The Secret Garden. All the same, Refo and Cannon havenew automatic Cartier movement. It “There was very little infrastructure and not channelled much of their $10 millionsuggests little but reflects the kind of taste enough going into the place in terms of labour restoration program into those hectares, whichthat comes with painstakingly acquired and water and so forth, but there was a sort of still include a famed daffodil field, potager,confidence. Pluses? Those gorgeous Roman soul, or heart, that shone through,” Refo says. cutting and rose gardens, a windmill-shapednumerals typical of Cartier, and the fact it’s Four years later, it is still giving up its Dutch garden and a woodland walk, carpetedso fresh you might be among the first to be secrets. “Every now and again, we find a in forget-me-nots and trilliums, that wandersspotted sporting one. photo we hadn’t seen before that tells us through a series of glades. Which brings us to the passion of something new – how areas were originally “We haven’t got to all of it yet; there’sparvenus the world over, Panerai. If you’re planted and where paths went,” he says. probably about two acres [0.8 hectares] leftwearing one of their Luminor models, why Tracing the 100-year-old contours of of woodland garden yet to be renovated,”not consider the more refined Radiomir Otahuna’s 12-hectare melange of botanical, Refo says. “But parts like the woodland walkrange, in particular a new specimen pastoral and woodland garden has been a will stay wild – purposely. That won’t becomeunveiled at this year’s Geneva watch fair. labour of love for Refo and his partner, Hall a really formal space. The structure there isIt’s designated the PAM 339 Composite Cannon, both Manhattanites who bought the provided by the mature trees.”Marina Militare and has a brown 47mm largely overgrown property in 2006. In fact, the structure of the originalcase constructed of clever composites that By turns a monastery and a Catholic garden is held everywhere by mature trees,gives it a wonderfully warm look. You havebrown brogues to go with it, don’t you? I could go on – for example to GirardPerregaux’s 1966 Chronograph, anothershy beauty loaded with burnishedmechanical brains. But whatever choiceyou make, the message is clear: we’veentered a new time zone where less is nowmore, and more may be less. Surely worththinking about if you value your time.BANI McSPEDDEN16WINTER L U X U RY2 010
  2. 2. particularly the 100-year-old oaks that line the It’s among the gardeners are also working to have the place to achieve, without the context of the gardencurving driveway to the house and a number certified organic. around the house,” Refo says.of outstanding specimen trees, including global top 20 A dainty little Edwardian drying house, all “Certainly we didn’t buy the property just forgrand beech and giant redwoods. food and wine red-earth brick and shingled roof, now houses the garden but it continues to be one of the “There was a great emphasis on exotic destinations – and logs on which shiitake mushrooms are being most rewarding things that we do. The housetrees that were popular in Britain at the time cultivated. Even the oaks have contributed is pretty much renovated and we can put anand there are some interesting things from home-grown to the bill of fare: a forager located porcini end date on that; the garden is a year-roundthe Americas and the Mediterranean,” he produce is at mushrooms deep in the surrounding soil. commitment and we are about three yearssays. “The most prized tree here is a Mexican the root of that After mulching beneath the trees last season, into it and only now just starting to see thestrawberry tree – a madrone tree. And the the kitchen had eight kilos to play with. results from what we did first up.” (For more on reputationanchor plant, Colletia paradoxa, is really quite “I don’t think we would have been able Otahuna, see our superlodge feature, page 32.)ugly but strange and wonderful.” to do what we’ve done, or what we’re trying MARGUERITE WINTER Along with the oaks, typical Victorianplantings include viburnum, rhododendronsand cardiocrinums (three-metre-tall lilies fromthe Himalayas), maple, loquats and lots ofbamboo. “The Victorians had a fascinationwith everything Asian and they collected a lotof Asian plants here,” Refo says. The gardeners cut their way through wildsawgrasses to uncover an unusual circularseat in a woodland clearing. It had turnedup in one early photo that also revealed amagic circle of trees: a Japanese maple,three beautiful pagoda trees and a mayten, aweeping tree a little bit like a willow. Refo, who was in publishing in NewYork, works closely with head gardenerSteve Marcham to recreate Rhodes’s vision,including the framed vistas that can becaptured around the property. “That sightingof artificial views meant to look wholly naturalis very much a feature of colonial gardens andthat gardenesque style,” he says. “We’re trying to play up the originalgardeners’ intentions, with views towardsGibraltar Peak, an alley of lawn that framesthe peak looks very natural. In reality, that veryGeorgian principle of forced perspective andforced views and carefully orchestrated sightlines is anything but natural.” Trees may be the original glory of the place,but the not-so-humble potager, or kitchengarden, is moving centre stage. Under chefJimmy McIntyre, Otahuna’s cuisine haswon an international following (it’s amongthe top 20 food and wine destinations inthe world, as voted by readers of AndrewHarper’s influential Hideaway Report). Andin a nice play on the whole idea of heritageand authenticity – a true point of differencein a country where its super lodge peers areusually very expensive new builds – home-grown produce is at the root of that reputation. The daily menu, including each evening’sfive-course tasting menu, responds to thecycles of the garden. The immaculateestablished orchard features 25 kinds of fruit,along with walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds,while the stone-walled, half-hectare potagerproduces 90 types of vegetables, many ofthem heirloom varieties, including15 kinds of tomato. Steve Marcham and his three assistantL U X U RY