On September 4, 2010 an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck off New Zealand’s South Island, inflicting widespread damage to the Christchurch area. The historic Otahuna Lodge, the 7-room manor house, did not escape the devastation. In fact, it suffered the most damage of any Christchurch hotel and was forced to close for renovation work. But now-- after 40 tradesmen, engineers and architects have worked their magic-- the Lodge has reopened this month to much fanfare and celebration. The 11 original chimneys were rebuilt in Victorian style, complying with seismic code standards, and interior walls were replastered and painted.
A member of Relais & Chateaux, Otahuna Lodge is an adored Christchurch hideaway, a fine example of Queen Anne architecture. Otahuna is the largest private residence in New Zealand; it was purchased in 2006 by Hall Cannon and Miles Refo who embarked upon a top-to-bottom renovation before opening the lodge as a luxury hotel. Surrounded by 110-year old gardens cultivated under A.E. Lowe (who trained at London’s Kew Gardens), the exclusive country estate has wide lawns for croquet and petanque games. There’s also swimming and tennis.
Otahuna Lodge offers just five suites and two master suites, each boasting 19th century architectural features: original fireplaces, carved inglenooks and stained glass windows. Amenities are top-notch; think super-king beds, custom-made linens, toiletries by Penhaligon’s of London, deep bathtubs and separate rain showers.
Dinner is a grand affair. The five-course chef’s degustation menu changes daily, featuring the country’s best seasonal produce. Foodies get a kick out of the lodge’s culinary experiences: cooking classes, seasonal mushroom foraging, private tours of artisanal food providers in the region.