On the West Coast of the South Island you’ll find Te Nikau Retreat in Punakaiki. The Star Gazer is the retreat’s most unusual accommodation option – it’s a little wooden hut on a platform with a partial glass roof, for you guessed it – star gazing.
There’s no electricity but candles can light the hut when the stars can’t. A short walk along a bush pathway takes you to shared bathroom and kitchen facilities at one of the lodges. The Star Gazer has sitting and lying room only, pack a small bag for a summer stay, from $51 double.
As well as the Stargazer, Te Nikau Retreat has a series of lodges and small cabins sprinkled through the bush. There’s accommodation to suit those on a tight budget and beyond – tent sites from $18pp; Te Ruru Lodge en suite room from $86 double; Koru from $71 double (use lodge facilities); Kowhai Cottage is self contained and sold as one private unit; and Rata Lodge can accommodate up to 12, from $27 pp.
Punakaiki is short on options to buy food supplies but Te Ruru Lodge sell the ingredients you’ll need to prepare a meal if you arrive unprepared. Bread and muffins are also for sale each morning.
WWOOF volunteers are welcome at Te Nikau Retreat and some volunteers have made a creative contribution in the form of paintings and recycled mirrors. If you’re green fingered you might get to tend the kitchen/conservatory garden in Weka Lodge. Usual duties are housekeeping and general property maintenance.
If you like unusual accommodation and you’re looking for a quiet bush hideaway I highly recommend you check out Te Nikau Retreat. The retreat is suited to independent travellers and small groups, YHA and BBH discounts apply. Trip Advisor reviews. (Thanks to Kate for the guided tour).