We were surprised to find that a stay in a former guard’s van at Waipara Sleepers cost only $65 a night. Throwing caution to the wind we booked two nights, how bad could it be? It wasn’t bad at all, but we do think some facilities could do with attention. Waipara Sleepers is advertised as unique budget accommodation though and I think they’re on the right track (toot toot).
Our guard’s van had a little TV, a small basin, and all you need to make tea and toast. The carriage was divided in half with a bed at the back and a living area at the front. There is a tiny deck ideal for relaxing with a bottle of wine from one of the local wineries.
A former Railway Station is now the communal kitchen and it’s where you’ll find the eggs that are supplied at the chickens convenience. We were out of luck with the eggs but we did enjoy the fresh bread left for guests on the kitchen counter.
The guard’s vans (the one we stayed in anyway) could do with a bit of a spruce up, but it’s the old communal concrete block bathrooms that are more in need of an update. The TV room is a bit grim too but we congregated with other travellers outside in the sun or in the light and bright kitchen.
We’d stay at Waipara Sleepers again, it’s good value at $65 a night for a guard’s van. If someone can go to the trouble of hoisting three 15 tonne carriages on to a site to make a unique place to stay, we can rough it in the bathroom for a few minutes a day.
Where is Waipara and what is there to do?
Waipara is around 45 minutes drive from Christchurch, it’s a little village and there’s not a lot to do, but that was one of the attractions for us. Waipara is wine country though and we spent an afternoon at Waipara Springs Winery with a platter and a glass of wine. Trainspotters can theme their visit with a ride on the Weka Pass Railway. (A stop in Waipara is popular for those driving the Alpine Pacific Triangle).
Forty five minutes drive from Waipara is Hanmer Springs and the deservedly popular Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. Hurunui Village is a bit closer at 28kms away, my photos of the Blacksmith’s Cafe where we had afternoon tea have disappeared, but I do have a photo of the Hurunui Hotel next door. Don’t hurry through the Hurunui – look out for frog rock.