Luxury Adventures are doing a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. Cabot Lodge is located in Manapouri, South Island, New Zealand.
Cabot Lodge’s location looks spectacular, tell us more about Cathedral Peak Station?
Cathedral Peaks Station is a 2000-acre sheep and deer farm bordering the Fiordland National Park. The farm has run sheep since its inception, but we introduced deer in the last 10 years to take advantage of the growing market for deer velvet. We are so lucky with both the location of the farm (in the middle of paradise) as well as the topography. The farm has a large peak, Freestone Hill, that looks out across the moody and majestical Lake Manapouri as well as the surrounding mountains. The farm also backs onto the Waiau River, renowned for its trout fishing. There is nothing better after a long day on the farm, then dropping a line and catching your dinner.
There are some fantastic walks on the doorstep of the lodge, what is your favourite and why?
We are absolutely blessed to have three of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ in Fiordland, so choosing a favourite is a difficult task. As the Kepler track is on our doorstep (literally minutes from the Lodge), and we have had so many memories and great adventures there, it may just take the cake. Not only is it a joy to walk, but some crazy people even choose to run it each year, during the famous Kepler Challenge. The Kepler has everything; gorgeous native beech forest, limestone bluffs, crystal blue lakes, waterfalls, pristine rivers, and snowy mountain ridge tracks. Not many hikes also offer the chance to go caving, with the incredible Luxmore Caves situated 10 minutes off the track. These caves are truly magic, and are a must-do for an adventurous trip to Fiordland. If you do get the opportunity to walk the Kepler Track make sure to look up in the evenings. Staring at a starry night sky while sitting atop a snowy mountain peak – you will have to pinch yourself that it’s all real.
Can you tell us about the history of Cathedral Peaks Station, and how the lodge began?
In the late 70’s my parents met while horseback riding the length of New Zealand. They both had a passion for farming, and after working for years as farm-hands, were lucky enough to purchase Freestone Hill. It was their slice of untouched paradise at the bottom of the country.
While on holiday to New Zealand, Frank and Anne Cabot, passionate botanists from New York, fell in love with the farm after turning up on our doorstep having heard of my mother’s beautiful garden. It only took a few hours before Frank and Anne realised they never wanted to leave. Our two families soon went into partnership, and together purchased the neighbouring farms to create Cathedral Peaks Station.
Frank and Anne built their home atop Freestone Hill and spent every summer with our family for the next 15 years. Following Frank’s death, Anne knew that their home would be too big to look after on her own, so my parents purchased the building, without any plan for what it would become. Anne continues to return each summer to stay with our family, and enjoy the place her husband loved so dearly.
During this time, Brad and I were working in the corporate world in Auckland, and it wasn’t until Brad decided he wanted to pursue his dream of beekeeping, that we began dreaming up the idea of moving south. The dream then began expanding, with the hope of creating an experiential lodge, combining our passion for farming, food and people.
With Anne’s blessing for our vision, we packed our bags, gave up the corporate life, and headed back to the family farm to create Cabot Lodge. The lodge is named in memory of Frank, and provides visitors with an authentic New Zealand experience on the farm my family have been cultivating for over 40 years.
What are your top three recommended experiences or activities in the Fiordland area generally?
Fiordland is such a vast place, with one of the largest national parks in the world, so the best way to experience its beauty is by air. A flight over the fiords, landing in the mountains to spend the afternoon hiking a section of one of our Great Walks is unmissable.
For the adventurous at heart, a jet boat trip through the National Park is the perfect combination of thrills and jaw dropping scenery. Visitors can jet boat through the Waiau River, where Lord of the Rings fans will rejoice, being transported to Middle Earth. Or, visitors can take a flight over to the stunning Lake Hauroko and jet out to the edge of New Zealand, spending the afternoon wandering the iconic Hump Ridge Track.
Finally, no trip to Fiordland is complete without a visit to the ‘eighth wonders of the world’ Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Many people ask which sound they should see when visiting Fiordland, but that’s like asking to pick your favourite child – they are both equally awe-inspiring and unforgettable.
Other than Fiordland of course, which three other destinations would you consider as a not to be missed on a two-week itinerary in New Zealand?
Northland, and in particular the Bay of Islands, is not to be missed. It is the epitome of New Zealand summer – long days, BBQ dinners, great people, and walking barefoot along the beach.
Queenstown. Enough said. It’s the adventure capital of New Zealand and between the gondola rides, skiing, bungee jumps, skydives and paragliding, it will take your breath away in more ways than one.
Another not to be missed New Zealand destination isn’t actually a town, but a highway – State Highway 6 from Greymouth to Haast. It’s best known for the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, but it’s the raw untamed nature that runs along the highway, which make this place such an incredible part of the country.
What experiences can guests enjoy at the lodge and Cathedral Peaks Station, particularly any farm experiences which are popular with many of our clients?
We pride ourselves on giving guests authentic on-farm experiences. Offering the opportunity to don a bee-suit and see inside a buzzing hive, or jump in the ute and take a 4WD farm tour to learn all about sustainable farming practices. We also have our top staff member, Sam the sheepdog, on hand to give a sheep herding exhibition, which guests can watch from the Lodge balcony with a glass of wine in hand. While Sam makes it look easy, we like to show our guests just what it takes, letting everyone have a go with a shepherd’s whip and a dog whistle – we have you feeling like true New Zealand farmers in no time! We also offer evening drinks on our private jetty overlooking the National Park, and we often bring experts to the lodge who are knowledgeable on the local history, as well as our native flora and fauna, so guests can learn more about this beautiful location from those who know it best.
What dining options are there for guests staying at Cabot Lodge?
If guests are looking for casual and experiential dining we offer a showcase of local produce with a rustic dinner platter, which includes the very best of our deep south delicacies. Our platters are designed to be enjoyed both on the property, or at the Lodge. We love packing up a picnic, and taking guests to the top of the farm to enjoy their meal – nothing like dinner and a view! Alternatively, if guests are looking for something more formal we provide transport into the local restaurants. The area has lots of great cuisine on offer, from steakhouses, to great Italian, and even a boutique food truck.
Can you tell us about the different room types on offer at Cabot lodge?
Cabot Lodge provides the luxury of seclusion with only four suites, catering to a total of ten guests. Our Two-Bedroom Suite provides two separate rooms with Super King Split beds and a shared bathroom. This is a great suite for friends and couples who are travelling together, or parents with younger children.
We have two Deluxe Suites, each with Super King beds. Our first Deluxe Suite offers a gorgeous open fireplace, balcony, large walk in wardrobe, as well as a traditional clawfoot bathtub. Soaking up the sunset over snow-capped mountains, while soaking in the tub – it doesn’t get better than that! Our Deluxe Courtyard Suite offers an extended living area with French doors onto a private courtyard. This suite also has the added benefit of having two completely different views. From the bedroom, a view of the manicured courtyard garden, and from the living room, a view of Lake Manapouri, the Fiordland National Park and surrounding mountains.
Our final suite is our Premier Suite. This elevated suite has spectacular views over the farm, lake, mountains and the national park. It also features a comfortable sitting area, generous en suite with a claw foot bathtub, and has the added benefit of a kitchenette for in-room dining. The spacious suite has it all, so the honeymooners need never leave their room.
What type of guest do you think Cabot Lodge is ideally suited to?
Cabot Lodge is perfectly suited to the adventurer or adventurous of heart. Although the lodge itself has been set up to provide every comfort and luxury, it is what’s outside the lodge which really counts. With the national park on our doorstep, thousands of acres of farmland for guests to explore, and situated near the iconic Doubtful and Milford Sounds, Cabot Lodge is ideal for those who want to experience the untouched wonder of the deep south.
Breidi and Brad are both operating Cabot Lodge in Manapouri.
Luxury Adventures – Tailoring luxury travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands since 1999.