Te Waonui Forest Retreat
"Relax and refresh, while immersed in untouched nature"
After entering into the Franz Josef region it was like arriving into an enchanted world like something out of the movie Avatar - completely enveloped in lush green.
We'd nearly forgotten how untouched this part of New Zealand remains. Nestled into an authentic rainforest setting, we parked up at our resting place for the night Te Waonui, which in Maori terms quite literally refers to the magical 'forest' the retreat was located within.
It's so much more than a hotel and this was clear by the way were received with one of the warmest welcomes we've ever experienced in New Zealand. The use of natural lighting and materials throughout the property demonstrates how much harmony the retreat holds relative to it's surroundings and something that was easy to identify. After checking in we were shown to our room which was short of little and appointed with style and luxury with fine touches like treats next to the bed and a sweet plate with champagne.
We then headed for dinner, which has to have been the signature of Te Waonui, a scrumptious 5 course degustation dinner complimented by the most comprehensive wine list anywhere you'll find on the West Coast. The service was top notch and rounded off a perfect evening before settling in for a night of rest. Getting back to the room, the bed was without doubt a feature of note, from organic cotton bedspreads to the incredibly cosy possum fur cushioning, we were set for a dreamworld slumber. Awakening the following morning we were treated to a fresh start that only waking in a rainforest would give - surrounded by beech trees and ferns.
Our final experience of the retreat was a personal encounter with Melvin, the front-of-house-host. We grabbed a few photos with him and had a crack at our best 'Pukana' (facial expression used to intimidate enemies) which was a great fun. Melvin took time out to show us some of the hidden gems of the property like the rainforest trail at the front of the retreat that meandered through ferns to a clearing where an outdoor gazebo stood.
By the time we pulled out and headed for the state highway, it genuinely felt like we'd experienced New Zealand hospitality at it's finest. If you're looking for a relaxing and luxrious stay in nature, pay a visit to Te Waonui, you will be blown away!
Telephone: 03 752 0555
Location: Franz Josef, West Coast, New Zealand