In Kerikeri, Northland earlier this year, for the first time in many years, I stayed in some delightful eco-cottages.
These stylish self-catering, eco cottages at Wharepuke are nestled in 2 hectares of gardens which were first planted by Robin Booth – starting 18 years ago on bare land – and have been awarded the ‘garden of significance’ status . The cottages feature original fine art prints and paintings by resident artist, print-maker and tutor, Mark Graver who has his studio on the grounds too.
Wharepuke has solid green credentials and actions – they include:
- the cottages are purposefully designed for energy conservation
- they use available local goods and services
- they use organic cleaners and products
- they encourage the reuse of sheets and towels by guests to save water and products
- they recycle any rubbish
- they have their own sewerage system which bio-treats water and which ends up back on the garden
- And, they offer local and organic food and drinks where possible
These cottages are peaceful to stay in, and as this a great wedding venue, I imagine both guests and brides love staying here – I know I did! I also valued the little torch on the key-ring to lead me home through the subtropical bush late in the evening.
Another asset about this place is the restaurant set within the gardens. Food at Wharepuke is a fully licensed cafe and restaurant specialising in Thai-inspired and modern European food.
Judged the “Northland Cafe of the Year” I can vouch for the fabulous dishes produced by the Welsh chef Colin Ashton , and his staff. An advantage they have is their herbs are mostly all grown on site. Interestingly, the restaurant was once army barracks and was trucked to the site. Even if you can’t stay at the cottages make sure you eat at the restaurant.
One of my food recommendations is the Thai Tasting Plate. Dishes I especially loved were the very tender squid, the raw fish, spring rolls and the lavash bread!
Mark Graver- the resident artist – is the author of the book Non-Toxic Printmaking. (A&C Black, London 2011) and tells me he had to self learn how to create non-toxic printmaking. He was awarded First Prize at the 2010 Lessedra World Art Print competition in Sofia, Bulgaria and has work in public and private collections worldwide. See his website for details about his work and the workshops he gives.