I am very pleased to host this guest post by Leeanne Templer in support of Blog4NZ, an initiative promoting travel to New Zealand. Leeane’s article is about the beautiful Solscape eco-resort in Raglan.
An eco-escape at an eco-resort in New Zealand
Surrounded by the rich aroma of lavender liquid soap, fresh mountain stream spray and a native bush canopy, I could feel my city stresses steadily melting away. I was chilling out in the pretty stone mosaic-floored “indoor-outdoor” shower of Solscape Eco-resort, just out of Raglan on New Zealand’s West Coast.
Solscape is a pleasantly jumbled and rambling collection of wooden eco baches, cabins created from converted khaki railway “cabooses,” and a grassy campsite. Soothing, clean and clear views encompass the Tasman Sea and Whaingaroa Harbour, with Mt Karioi rising like a dromedary’s hump to the Southeast. According to Maori legend Karioi was a jilted Maori Princess who, upon discovering that love was lost, lay down there to rest.
At Solscape we stepped into an American Indian style Tipi settlement for a family eco adventure. After only a few minutes walk along a fern and manuka lined track, we were in another world. Our tipi was light and spacious, with a wooden floor and four futon beds. We peeled back the wrap-around smoke flap to reveal the blue sky above.
Up in the open canopied dining room we exchanged tales with other international travelers while our pizza baked in the round white earth oven. I read about my favourite former local, Maori Chief Te Awaitaia as the solar lights flicked on around us. As a youth he defeated enemy warlord Chief Te Rauparaha in a major battle. Knowing that he had guaranteed the safety of Europeans in his territory was comforting as I listened to the surf roaring gently in the distance. The calls of tuis and cicadas gradually faded away. We tuned in to the sounds of moreporks, and beetles scuttling down the sides of the tipi. Cool air surrounded us, and the night swallowed up our first day in Raglan.
Raglan is a popular haven for surfers, artists and musicians. It has a famous left hand surf break, featuring in a classic international surfing movie. Ngarunui beach was jam packed, the black sand lit up with bright beach umbrellas, fluoro kites dipping and diving, people playing beach softball and soccer, and swimming. Surf life savers zoomed past on a little blue beach buggy with long yellow surf boards on top. Soon we all looked like soaked penguins as we jumped and splashed in the waves.
Paraponters swooped and sailed overhead as we climb back up the hill to the car. We rewarded ourselves with delicious thick blue nose steaks and crispy chips from the shop on the wharf, and settled in for another night under the stars.
No trip to Raglan would be complete without sampling the artisan shops and cafes. Tongue and Groove café on the main corner looked very cool with its surfing memorabilia, exuberant colours, and retro formica tables and chairs. The Black Sand Café had bold pictures decorating the walls, offered delicious wraps, and a fantastic childrens menu. However we were enticed by the exotic décor at “Zaragoza” café, with its Moroccan style tagine dishes, lights and carpets. I settled for a deliciously ice cold and beautifully seasoned gazpacho soup, with a touch of sour cream and a slither of cucumber. My husband enjoyed a spicy lamb tagine and our son appreciated the home made lamb pie. The milkshakes were a heavenly combination of honey and fresh caramel.
We browsed through “Atamira” designer clothes and bookstore and “Right up my Alley,” a shop with bric a brac, pottery and glass bottles in a rainbow of colours. There were enough clothes, art, jewellery, home furnishings and specialty organic food stores to keep us amused for hours.
Next morning there was a new sound to complement the shrill dawn chorus of birdcalls – the steady trickle of water down the Tipi’s rain catcher. We trudged up to the showers and ferried the luggage back to the car in the downpour, and my son flatly refused to use the composting toilets, no matter how eco friendly they were.
We had timed it just right to move to the brand new designer recycled timber eco bach. We had 180 degree views of sunset on the water and hills of the North West Coast. We could now truly appreciate the luxury of an endless warm water shower, our own private flushing toilet, state of the art kitchen and fluffy clean towels.
Four nights at Solscape eco-resort was just enough to relax and rejuvenate us but I am keen to return to walk the spectacular and historic Mt Karioi tracks, visit Bridal Veil Falls, try the kite boarding and massage at Solscape and of course to revisit Raglan’s glorious galleries and cafés.
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Article and photographs were supplied by and are copyright Leeanne Templer.