Sunday, March 9, 2008

North Canterbury Comforts

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the day at Claremont Country Estate, in Waipara Gorge, one hour north of Christchurch. There, amid spectacular scenery, Richard and Rosie Goord have created a gorgeous intimate lodge in one of Canterbury’s notable country homesteads. Claremont, built in 1866 from hand cut limestone blocks quarried on the property, is listed with NZ Historic Places Trust (Cat.2). The Goords enlisted Christchurch architect, Stewart Ross to renovate and extend the property and today guests can sink into its sublime comforts, safe in the knowledge that their every whim will be catered to. Not surprisingly, highly regarded American hospitality critic, Andrew Harper named it his Grand Award Winner for New Zealand, 2008. With its wide, wisteria-clad verandahs, its big rooms and the hospitality of its hosts, it has a wonderful ‘homely’ feel to it – relaxed, friendly, easy; but best of all, the total silence (but for the bids) and the tranquillity. Life in the country - that’s the thing! I was very taken by the fact that, while I was there a blue heron landed on the chimney. Surely that must be a sign of good luck?

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