9 must-do sustainable stays in Ruapehu

Quirky, cool, and nothing else like it, come and stay in Ruapehu’s unique, sustainably focussed accommodation experiences. Mountain side or riverside and under dark starry skies, you’re also as close to nature as you can get with Ruapehu’s greater outdoors at your doorstep and these wildly wonderful, dreamy accommodation options with sustainability at heart.

Nightsky Cottage, Horopito

There’s something magical about holidaying like there’s nobody watching. Like an internal retreat that soothes the senses and somehow creates a sense of space to unfurl, expand and breathe a little deeper. That’s exactly the kind of priceless pampering you experience at the award-winning Nightsky Cottage – recipient of Qualmark’s 5-star Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award. Sitting on edge of the UNESCO Dual World Heritage site of Tongariro National Park in Horopito, this 2-bedroom eco retreat is surrounded by near century old manuka trees and only accessible by a 50-metre hand dug boardwalk. Once inside, you’ll pick up a thing or two about embarking on a zero-waste journey with sustainability at the heart of Nightsky Cottage. Enjoy two side by side bathtubs with gorgeous views of the native bush, a full-sized kitchen and cosy log burner beneath sky lights to gaze at the starry skies from the lounge. 

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Posh Pioneers, Taumarunui

This remote, remarkable boutique accommodation is a destination all on its own – Posh Pioneers is a transformative travel experience that lulls you into the charms and challenges of the inspiring pioneering life. Not by any means ordinary, it is the hand spun wool, the patchwork quilts, the homemade curtains, the freshly baked bread, the hand churned butter, the hand carved, hand-built huts, the outdoor shower that transports you to another world. As deep and secluded as you can get along the Whanganui River, there is no road access, but instead river access. Paddle your way here by canoe, kayak, or arrive by jetboat, or even helicopter in. With six shepherds hut, each hand built with remnants of the century old homestead that once graced this land, your one-of-a-kind abode is as cosy as can be - solar powered, double glazed and fully insulated. Activities offered at Posh Pioneers are life skills you’ll truly appreciate including traditional Rongoā Māori, soap making, knife making, book binding, paper making, conservation, trapping, flax weaving, spinning, and felting.

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Timber Trail Lodge, Pureora Forest Park

Like you’re floating above the forest, a stay at Timber Trail Lodge is the ultimate off the beaten path getaway offering bike packages, accommodation, shuttles, transfers, and delicious home style meals. Nestled deep in the Pureora Forest Park at the halfway point of the iconic Timber Trail in Piropiro – the Timber Trail Lodge is a haven for cyclists enjoying NZ’s best 2-day wilderness ride that you can access all year-round. Relax and rejuvenate at this one-of-a-kind wilderness lodge with a strong sustainability focus built to protect our natural surrounds and ensure minimal impact on the environment. Solar powered with rainwater tanks as well as robust waste management initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle in place, the Timber Trail Lodge is a transformative travel experience that invites you to truly connect to our people and place. Enjoy bush walks, freshly baked pizzas on the sprawling deck, drinks by the log fire and warm hospitality. 

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Te Awa Glamping, Taumarunui

100% off grid, Te Awa Glamping is a luxurious riverside haven on the banks of the Whanganui River just a short drive from Taumarunui. Indulge in a custom designed eco explorer tent, the only one of its kind in NZ built for maximum comfort and minimal environmental impact, with 10% of profits going directly toward environmental regeneration and protecting the awa. Solar powered and zero waste focused, you’ll be pampered with freshly baked bread, a delicious welcome hamper full of locally sourced goodies and homemade bath salts for the outdoor bath. Make the most of holiday mode and enjoy delicious dinner and picnic options prepared by a nutritional therapist. Your private river access also means plenty of time to soak up the beauty of the Whanganui River with a morning stroll, an afternoon paddle or daydreaming on the tree pod. 

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Rua AwaLodge, Kakahi

A unique and historic accommodation experience, Rua Awa Lodge is a former saddlery nestled in the small settlement of Kakahi, just 20 minutes from Taumarunui. Kaitiakitanga of the natural environment is a strong focus at Rua Awa Lodge – through conservation of the land, regenerative farming, comprehensive composting, recycling, and the garden to plate ethos woven into the Rua Awa experience. A truly nurturing place where guests can immerse themselves in local history, enjoy private access to bush walks, fishing, and swimming as well as a delicious menu of wholesome meals made to order. Guests can also partake in raw food workshops, private yoga and stretch sessions. A new space is also underway to accommodate groups functions, meditation, Myofascial Release, Functional Training, and traditional Māori healing. As fourth generation local and of Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent, Sheryl Simpson and partner Warren are your hosts to discovering the rich history and heritage of Rua Awa Lodge. With a growing understanding of Tikanga, Te Reo Māori and a deep connection to the whenua, Sheryl shares, “our ancestors are always whispering and guiding, if you listen closely, you can hear them too.” 

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Retaruke Country Estate, Retaruke

Located 8 km west of National Park Village, Retaruke Country Estate is a true hidden gem that offers visitors an insider’s look at a range of sustainable and regenerative initiatives that encompasses this superb country lodge experience – working on carbon zero certification by 2025. Spanning across 4,000 acres of stunning wilderness, visitors are fully catered for with marvellous, made to order meals as well as all-inclusive access to a mix of activities ranging from horse riding, farm tours, mountain biking, clay target shooting, swimming holes, fishing, outdoor hot tubbing, and stargazing. Sustainability is a way of life for your hosts Glenn and Carolyn – with Glenn’s extensive background in ecology and Carolyn’s passion for caring for the environment, you’ll learn about the positive efforts made to make your stay a meaningful one. Retaruke Country Estate donates $25 from every stay towards the purchase of traps and in addition, visitors can get involved by helping check traps or sponsoring a trap.

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Blue Duck Station, Retaruke

Blue Duck Station is all about sustainability and community - an outdoor enthusiast’s playground with conservation at its heart surrounded by Whanganui National Park offering a fantastic range of unique accommodation and immersive activities to get amongst. Purpose-built accommodation with water sourced from springs, Blue Duck Station is a true wilderness escape that connects you to a pristine wonderland. Long standing composting and recycling initiatives are in place throughout the Blue Duck Station community with a wholehearted mission to care for the land and people. Home to one of the highest concentrations of whio (blue duck) and kiwi in New Zealand, Blue Duck Station has been awarded three Ballance Farm Environment Awards and a Departmentof Conservation Services to Conservation Award for their continuous efforts to inspire others to protect and enhance the natural world. 

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Pumice Tiny House, Ohakune

Have you ever stood in a space so alive that it makes you bow with reverence? Where the walls are not walls but portals to a forgotten time and each step takes you to a faraway place where imaginations run wild. Voted as one of the top 5 tiny homes of 2022, Pumice Tiny House in Ohakune is attracting visitors from near and far to experience a one-of-a-kind cave-like, straw bale abode. Straw itself is a waste product but Pumice Tiny House harnesses it as a natural, renewable material for creating a warm, comfortable and energy efficient dwelling sustainably by design. Recycled concrete blocks as part of the foundation with the entire build on a former commercial heavy truck trailer, extending its practical usability by 125% beyond its design life. The roof structure of profiled, curved steel is reclaimed, envisaged scrape steel, salvaged from the Kiwifruit industry.

Raw, earthy, and primal, this soothing space cocoons you in a tranquil trance and offers all the conveniences you need, including an outdoor, streamside fire pit, a covered patio with gas BBQ for alfresco dining and a shallow reflection pool. Tucked away a quiet residential area, the Pumice Tiny House is a 20-minute stroll to town or just 10 minutes to the Junction for restaurants, bars, and coffee. Ideal for couples and is also pet-friendly.

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Posted by on 10 April 2023