Luxury Adventures are doing a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers. We’re looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. Mahu Whenua Homestead & Eco Sanctuary offers luxury accommodation and is located near Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand.
Talk to us about the location of Mahu Whenua, and access to the property for guests.
Mahu Whenua Homestead is located approximately 25 minutes drive from Central Wanaka, in the Motatapu Valley. The land of Mahu Whenua stretches from Glendhu Bay (Lake Wanaka) all the way to Arrowtown, covering 136,000 acres, but the homestead itself is closer to the Wanaka side. If guests are travelling from Queenstown, we are a 10-minute helicopter flight, a 90-minute drive or for the adventurous souls, a 5-hour e-bike ride can take guests from Arrowtown to the homestead.
Is Mahu Whenua a working farm, and can guests staying at the property be part of the farm experience?
The property was originally 4 separate high country stations with extensive livestock farming – as part of the conservation initiatives of the owner. The stock has been reduced, and sustainable farming practises introduced to ensure native plant regrowth can flourish.
The farming efforts now focus heavily around the conservation work. Our on-site farm tour is a great way to learn more about the conservation efforts and history of the land from one of our knowledgeable guides.
Conservation and sustainability are obviously important at Mahu Whenua, can you tell us about this?
The concept of Mahu Whenua is to try and return the land to its native state – Mahu Whenua translates to ‘healing the land’. With the removal of most of the livestock, this could in theory, occur naturally in the long term. But the owner wanted to encourage this process to move a little quicker.
Over 1.5 million native trees have been planted, bee populations increased and native bird breed and release programmes in place. These are all funded by the owner. As the conservation efforts are such a unique project, Otago University approached the owners a few years ago to begin studying the property. Working towards the long-term aim of enhancing the understanding of the Mahu Whenua area and modelling new concepts for landscape management to enhance the project further.
What accommodation options are available at Mahu Whenua, and what type of guests would it ideally suit?
Because the property was originally built as a private residence, it has retained a very homely feel, which guests absolutely love. We are a very intimate luxury lodge, with only four suites. We have 3 different types to suit different tastes. Our Tui Master Suite is very romantic and cosy. Our Kereru Suite is light, bright and spacious, and our Cottage Suites are very quaint and private.
Because we are only 25 minutes from central Wanaka I would say we are a great option for most dynamics. Those seeking an authentic ‘kiwi’ high country experience, and those that enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and mountain landscapes are the ones that enjoy our property the most. You feel very removed from the world, and the environment is serene and calming.
For multi-generational family groups, exclusive use is a great option to enjoy the property and its facilities privately.
The cuisine is an integral part of the stay at Mahu Whenua. Can you share a typical menu with us?
We favour local and seasonal ingredients. Everything is very fresh, and we can cater to any dietary requirements.
starts with a continental style offering, and guests can choose from menu
items, including eggs benedict, pancakes, and a daily breakfast special.
Lunch could either be a gourmet picnic to take away if you are heading out and about on an adventure for the day, or a lovely casual soup, salad or BBQ.
Dinner starts with canapes and is normally a three-course menu with a couple of choices for each course. Think beautiful Cardrona Valley lamb racks, South Island salmon fillet and grass-fed beef. Fresh vegetables sourced from the veggie garden, poached Central Otago stone fruit, local cheese selections… The menu changes each day, and the chefs are very creative.
What other inclusions can guests expect in their tariff?
Our nightly tariff includes breakfast, lunch and dinner (dinner only on arrival day, and breakfast only on departure day). In-room minibar, tea, coffee and soft drinks. Full use of lodge facilities including the swimming pool and hot plunge pool, use of the on-site e-bikes and also access to the on-site hiking trails.
What on-site activities and experiences are available at Mahu Whenua, and which is your personal favourite?
4WD tours, horse riding, guided hiking, guided biking, heli-hiking, heli-biking, backcountry hut experiences, or any combination of the above! We offer guests a compendium of suggested excursions, but we love to custom create experiences so welcome any requests.
Horse riding is very popular as we have incredible stables and kilometres of custom built horse trails. Helicopter flights are also great, as the aerial view gives you a great perspective of the scale of the property, which can be hard to gauge from ground level.
My personal favourite is a combination tour, with a helicopter to one of our gorgeous on-site backcountry huts with a gourmet picnic. Followed by an e-bike ride back to the lodge via the bird breeding programmes and river to learn a little more about the conservation work.
Other than on-site activities, what do you recommend for our guests to do in the immediate area?
A helicopter trip to Milford Sound from Wanaka is very special. Most visitors choose to do this excursion from Queenstown. But actually, the flight path from Wanaka takes you over more of Mount Aspiring National Park and is considered by most to be even more scenic!
There are some fantastic boutique wineries in the region which are great to explore, and some world-class day hikes accessible close by.
What would a typical 3-night itinerary at Mahu Whenua look like?
Arrive at 2pm for check-in, enjoy a cup of tea whilst soaking up the views over lake Wanaka.
We suggest a 4WD farm tour on the first afternoon as a great introduction to the property and opportunity to learn about the conservation efforts and orientate yourself. If guests arrive for our 2pm check-in time, we can arrange this shortly after arrival.
For the two full days on site we suggest taking one day of experiences and one day relaxing. Enjoying the swimming pool, e-bikes, hiking trails and lodge facilities. We personally think that three days is the minimum amount of time guests should spend with us to get the full lodge experience.