Sir Heaton Rhodes Legacy – Otowna Lodge, New Zealand

Maori legend says that every stone, tree and mountain in New Zealand has its own story and its own spirit. In the archipelago waters of the South Pacific Ocean, we can really feel like walking into the land of legends.

the Otowna Lodge His garden is also such a place. The Maori word means a small hill between mountains. In fact, it is a small piece of land sandwiched between a dormant volcano and the waves of the sea, where we can find the richest park in New Zealand and one of the most beautiful places to stay.

Photo: Lodge

Otahuna Lodge’s history goes back a long way, to the time of Maori legends and New Zealand pioneers. In 1895, Sir Heaton Rhodes, One of the founders of Canterbury chose the Otahuna estate as his home. He and his wife, Jesse, also built the perfect home in a few years.

The mansion was built in the Victorian style according to the style prevailing at that time, and is an outstanding example of colonial architecture. And what is considered a rarity, it has remained in unprecedentedly good condition. This requires several things.

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More important is the fact that the Otahuna Lodge was built as a home and served as a home. Heaton’s Builders Jesse Rhodes They lived here for sixty years. A true Renaissance man, Heaton Rhodes always came home to “the little hill between the mountains” while he was working. The businessman, who was involved in cattle breeding, parliamentary representation, and railroad investments, among other things, had an undisclosed passion. He was obsessed with gardening and did everything he could to ensure that the garden at Otahuna Lodge was named “the most beautiful garden in New Zealand”.

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Despite his political career, livestock penetration and developing area, Otahuna Lodge became the most important legacy of Sir Heaton Rhodes, who died in 1956 at the age of ninety-six.

The building is one of the most beautiful preserved examples of the architecture of the Anna period, typical of the Australian region, and more than one hundred and twenty species of plants bloom in the gardens to this day, many of which were planted by the founder himself.

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However, the witch’s sanctuary was threatened with destruction until recently. With the Rhodes family extinct, the estate was left without an owner for a long time, but in hindsight this may not be seen as a tragedy, but rather as luck. Instead of the usual fate of New Zealand era buildings being torn down and rebuilt, Otahuna Lodge has been frozen in space and time waiting for the right owner.

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The history and knowledgeable owner arrived in 2007. Their goal was clear from the start, to preserve and present the Otahuna Lodge halls and gardens in their original beauty. There are several ways to present a building to the public. Turning it into a museum is a safe, but not always viable, approach, and the new owners didn’t choose this direction simply because they wanted the really important core of the house, which is homeliness delivery.

And the right way for that is the solution that is becoming more and more popular these days, turning it into a luxury hotel.

The new owners had a surprisingly easy time. The house has not needed alteration, only slightly modernized to meet a 21st century comfort level, but apart from the restoration the image of the house or estate has not been altered.

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The same furniture, the same wallpaper on the walls, the fire tools the Rhodes family used by the fireplace, the same leather armchairs await guests in the bookstore famous throughout New Zealand.

The gardens are also constantly maintained and guests can learn about the most hidden corners of the garden during a guided walk, but they also have the chance to walk for hours or relax on the banks of the artificial lake or even on the rock garden benches.

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The original Otahuna Lodge building consisted of seven suites. The common point between them is that they all offer a great view of the surrounding park beauty.

The three storey building is located like a real jewel box in the green heart of New Zealand and the most amazing thing is that we can reach the hidden wonders within twenty minutes drive from the nearby city of Christchurch.

The opening in 2007 was followed by a painfully short period of prosperity and peace. In 2011, the Christchurch region was hit by an earthquake, and the house, which had preserved its surroundings for two hundred years, was destroyed by nature in a few minutes.

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However, the new owners were not discouraged and, with a huge amount of work, restored the house to its former glory and original condition within a few months.

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Since opening, a tennis court, an outdoor swimming pool, riding facilities provided by the estate’s stables, a wine cellar and a restaurant await guests.

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While in the cellar you can find some of the best Marlborough and Central Otago wines in the world, the kitchen focuses entirely on the local area. This style choice is quite understandable, as the chef can choose from a kitchen garden that yields more than two hundred varieties of vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms.

The dinner menu is a five-course tasting menu each evening, which changes daily and offers a cross-section of New Zealand gastronomic style.

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After a day spent on the property and in the surroundings, during which guests can take part in tours, wine tastings, horseback riding excursions, sailing excursions, white water rafting, and fly fishing, it’s a good idea to get to Otowna.

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The adventures we experience here not only enrich the long chain of legends surrounding the place, but also complete the story of Sir Heaton’s most important legacy. The Otahuna Inn is still in the house. Although its residents come from all over the world, they still return home here.

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