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. Silverpine is a luxury mountain Lodge located on the shores of Lake Hawea near the resort town of Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand.
What you are doing at Silverpine sounds like a quintessentially ‘Kiwi’ experience. Tell me is that what you’re trying to achieve?
People get their first impressions of New Zealand from media images; superlative scenery, friendly people, great food and accommodation etc. What we are trying to do is measure up to the high expectation that comes with the visitor when they are in NZ. We are proud of our country and like to show it to others with unfeigned hospitality.
Reading your bios you both have interesting and very different backgrounds. What do you both bring to the lodge?
I guess the cross cultural aspects help us see things in different ways. The West is not one culture even though we may [mostly] have a common language.
The Architect that designed Silverpine sounds like an intriguing person, tell me about his influence on the lodge?
Peter Beaven’s influence on the lodge can’t be understated. He was a splendid man with great talent. Sadly he has recently passed away but his professional peers began years before the eulogies to laud him as one of NZ’s greats. He understood places, space and materials and never lost sight of the fact that buildings were for people, not monuments. In this case the people are mostly overseas guests and he wanted their stay to be as memorable as the landscape.
The strong wall shapes rise to lofty spaces to allow surprising views over the dramatic mountain slopes and lake. The structure is simple, almost minimal, yet it’s very friendly. I don’t know how to describe talent, but he had it. I guess he loved life and wanted other people to do so as well and the better he could make their living environment the better. You can read more about how Peter Beaven came to design Silverpine here.
Mike you’re a real southern man, a true kiwi and guests have all remarked on this. Can guests of Silverpine expect a real Kiwi experience from you?
Well the Southern Man thing began as a promotional poster for a South Island beer. It’s kind of a jibe at the urban north, the South’s equivalent to the Marlboro Man or the Goucho culture but with more working dogs and fewer horses. It might be a collection of cliches that describe the hardworking young shepherds and musterers and their obedient dogs that make farming the South Island high country possible. — Self reliant, laconic, usually single and thirsty. While I have had a varied life and can help out my neighbours at seasonal tasks, there’s no way I would pass myself off as one of them. I’d soon be found lacking. Guests can expect their stay here to include an appreciation of what makes the rural heart tick and some of the yarns that go with the locality.
Sue I’ve tasted your exquisite culinary creations before, tell me what do you enjoy creating in the kitchen?
I really like to showcase the excellent food ingredients and seasonal resources that NZ has. I don’t like to complicate food but to bring out the best from the best.
Silverpine strikes me as an excellent spot to ‘get away from it all’, do people who live in large cities feel they want to spend more time there?
Yes. A common comment among guests is that New Zealand has a lot of attractions but they don’t feel they need to see them all in one trip. It’s a long way to travel, and once here they want to relax, not just be fed into activities. They all want to come back again and stay in one or two agreeable places for longer.
I know you have a seafood business as well as the lodge, can guests expect to taste the spoils of this first hand?
Yes, that works according to the seasons and weather.
You have great knowledge and work well with the local guides, what 3 activities would you consider ‘must do’?
The first is the heli, hike and jetboat experience at the Wilkin River in Makarora; The second would be a days’ guided fly fishing for brown trout and rainbow in the freestone rivers and clear lake margins, Finally Lying on the lawn at Silverpine in the late afternoon sun, refreshment in hand and dinner not far away, having just completed a hike up the ridges behind the lodge with our working dog Roi as guide.
Not naming names, what’s the most interesting story from a past guest?
A guest wanted to go fly-fishing, his companion was into yoga but she went with him. They returned with the fishing guide late afternoon and were relaxing with a drink. Suddenly she noticed her neck pendant was missing and after a torrent of foreign language we were informed that we had to go back up the river and look for it. It was not expensive but had sentimental value.
So the guide, my dog and I jumped in the jetboat and headed 20km up the lake to the mouth of the river and started ‘tracking’ Fortunately she had small feet and her boot prints in the river sand were obvious. But during the day she had wandered off to roll out her mat and do some yoga in the grass. Fortunately the guide found one of these spots where she had been standing on her head and we found the pendant on its heavy silver chain. The stone looked like a triangular pyramid of a gold hued quartz. It wasn’t until we put our glasses on that we could read ‘De Beers’ stamped in the silver. I don’t think they do quartz. She was very grateful to get it back.
Other than Wanaka of course, which three other destinations would you consider as a not to be missed on a two week itinerary in New Zealand?
The spring White Heron nesting tour at Whataroa on the West Coast, The Doubtful Sound overnight cruise in Fiordland, and at least a few nights, perhaps self catered on a Waiheke Island beach or vineyard cottage.
And finally what are two dishes you really should try while staying at Silverpine?
The dry aged venison with one of Sue’s wild berry jus, and the desert of fresh berries in a Sake jelly and green tea biscuit.
Mike & Sue own Silverpine Lodge near Wanaka. You can read more about them here.