Walking around Otahuna feels like I’m inside a fairy tale. The ornate woodworking and rich jeweled accents lend warmth and color to the space. Otahuna’s history dates back to 1895, and was constructed by Sir Heaton Rhodes and his wife Jessie. The distinctive decorating is found throughout the property; it is a perfect reflection of the love and care that the Rhodes’ place into every detail of their home.
During my visit, I stayed in the Clark Suite which was named after Jessie’s maiden name. Her former bedroom is decorated in her favorite color, pastel blue. The baby blue and white gave the room a delicate feel, and I felt very comfortable and relaxed. The sun illuminated the stained glass windows, and provided the impression of bright blue skies even on a grey winter day.
After I settled in, Miles Refo, Otahuna’s co-owner gave me a tour of the property. The gardens were hibernating for the winter, but the thought and intention behind the property are evident even without the fields of daffodils and tulips. Miles explained the theory of English Landscape Gardening. The striping of the lawn served as a pathway for my eyes down the open fields to the shapes of the trees farther away.
A resident wood pigeon was spotted at the end of our walk. Miles told me the story of how these birds eat the fruit and berries from the trees and sit in the sun to digest. When they do so, the fruit ferments and the birds fall down, drunk. It must be a common occurrence because one of Otahuna’s signature drinks is called the “Drunken Wood Pigeon,” a mixture of property made liquor and gin which could probably make a person fall down too.
I found overall the atmosphere of Otahuna to be astounding. Hall and Miles, the owner/managers make sure to greet each guest at least once during their stay. We had a cheery and fun dinner with lively conversation. Miles and Hall are originally from the United States, and they were able to offer us some practical advice for interacting with the Kiwi locals. Interestingly enough, the entire Otahuna staff is from the area. Every member of the Otahuna team made sure to give us a warm welcome with a genuine smile. Their presence seemed to animate the estate. Our hostess during our stay was named Donna, she had refined her craft for exceptional guest service during her days as an “Air New Zealand Business Cabin Stewardess.” Her enthusiasm was always present. When she announced the evening’s wine selection, her warm and soothing voice sounded like a song.
Of course, there is more to do at Otahuna besides eating and drinking. You can come to relax, or use Otahuna as your starting point for active adventures like horseback riding, golf, hiking or biking. Nearby, you could spend the day in Christchurch or escape to the seaside town of Akaroa. You can also try fly fishing on Canterbury’s rivers. I would invite anyone considering Otahuna to get in touch with Frontiers to arrange a stay. This property is highly desired with many visitors coming to the area just for the unique experience. When you return, give us a call and we can exchange stories!