Boutique Barnstay – Staveley, South Island, NZ

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Farm tour

Friday, January 04, 2019

Our last guided tour for the year was with a delightful extended family from Malaysia.

Their request had been to visit and experience real farm life so we organised a day taking in some of the sights of our sheep and been farm, a dairy farm and a local bush walk.

After their drive down from Christchurch, first things first ....morning smoko with scones and cream!

Tony gave our guests some idea of mustering with the sheep dogs as he brought in a mob of sheep ready to shear.

Shearing is always great to watch is such a skill holding the sheep in a relaxed way using the legs and everyone likes to get up close and personal!

It is a good time of year with pet orphaned lambs to feed.

Angus cows and calves stand out well against the green paddocks.

Our local bush is a great experience for international visitors many shades of green, birdsong and always a fresh coolness in the air.

Happy all round!!

Supposedly spring!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
At the weekend following a very late snow the day before (Nov 9) we took our two American guests to explore the Rhyollite Ridge Route on Mt Somers.

This is the most stunning walk with great views, through tussock and beech forest, over gullies and ridges. Water was seeping from everywhere as the snow melted away and it filled the gullies becoming gushing torrents of water in places where there is usually only a trickle! 

We saw the new red flowers on the mountain beech and in the carpark at Woolshed Creek found the backcountry clematis (Marata) flowering on the matagouri bushes.

There is some history involved too... with the Blackburn mine and relics....and on the way home we dropped in at the historic musterers hut in the village, which was also used by trampers prior to the building of the present Woolshed Creek hut.

Staveley Camp

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

A good crew and lots of creative energy came together at the weekend at the Staveley Camp forest rejuvenation weekend.

As the crow flies Staveley Camp is only a 1km from Rata across Bowyers Stream and part of the land sustains a rare remnant of Canterbury Plains native forest.

Gen de Spa has been doing a great job initiating the caring process to rid the forest of all the nasties which are smothering it..... ivy, cotoneaster, sycamore, broom etc.

It will be a long process so it was fantastic to see so many keen folk on board ... many involved with Time Bank Ashburton.

What a beautiful peaceful place.....definitely worth our care!

Native Clematis

Monday, October 22, 2018

I was booked in last Friday to guide a couple of clematis enthusiasts on a NZ native clematis finding expedition!  It was by far the worst day of the year with this supposed spring day throwing hail, snow and rain at us along with a biting southerly wind.
So it was fortunate my guests were made of stern stuff and we had a fun day focussed on finding several varieties of clematis dotted around Mid Canterbury
The flowers are beautiful and varied ....from small and insignificant to large and flamboyant

Flowering is from September to November. 

The small and elusive Clematis Marata above is to be found in the Harris Reserve. Here it is earlier flowering than its backcountry cousin.

On to the Rakaia Gorge where we found Clematis Foetida in flower. The soft yellow is seen in great swathes all over the steep sides of the gorge as it climbs and hangs off vegetation. 

We were also looking for a much less common clematis variety.... Quadribracteolata. We were thrilled to at least find the seed heads. It flowers in September. Below is a photo of this particular clematis in flower last year .

Our last stop along the foothills was to photograph the spectacular Clematis Paniculata which grows amongst the beech forest and is at its best at this time of year. It is stunning with the white flowers standing out against the black trunks of the trees.
All in all, a successful day!!

Skiing Mt Hutt

Monday, September 03, 2018
The Mt Hutt skiing and boarding season is going well with the planned closing date being 14th October .... a little later this year to take in the October school holidays.

So still lots of time to get up there as the days warm up and lengthen. Spring skiing should be great.

20cm of new snow landed on the slopes last night with more forecast over the next day or two.

Still some weekends available in Wee Rata cottage over the next 6 weeks.

I have been lucky to enjoy some bluebird days on the mountain with friends............  

Methven Creative Workshop

Friday, March 09, 2018
During the first weekend in March, we got creative with the ladies attending the South Island Freemasons Annual conference at Methven Resort.

Cheesemaking / tasting, and origami bouquets were the plan for the morning. 
There was a lot of banter, laughter and general companionship over curds and haloumi, glue and recycled Mills and Boon.

Great results Ladies!


Friday, March 09, 2018

We are thrilled to receive this gold award from for guest reviews!!

9.8 out of 10..... (not 100 as my cheeky daughter suggested!)

Thank you to all our positive guests!

Below are Elspeth (L) and Judith (R) with their award

Road Scholar Hiking Group

Sunday, February 11, 2018
Jude and I at Rata Escape enjoy guiding the Road Scholar Tour groups which visit our area 5 times each year. The guests are from North America and can join up to these tours once they reach 55.

Last week it was the Hiking NZ group who were very enthusiastic to get out and about in our hills.
We had a great 3 days exploring ...Woolshed Creek, up into the Hakatere Backcountry and a foothills farm walk.
The timing was right to take in some shearing, sheep dogs working and hobbit spotting ...all of which they loved!

Methven Summer School

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Happy New Year for 2018!!

Rata Escape is being well used as a holiday base for families and travellers over the summer period.

This week Judith and I have enjoyed taking part in some of the varied classes at the annual Methven Summer students and Judith also as teacher. What a hive of activity during the week with lots of fun and energy! There were 20 different workshops on offer ....arty farty, eat bake drink and lifestyle categories.

Rata Escape would be a great base for next years school! 

Check it out at

Quirky Garden Sculptures

Soap Making

Judith taking the Cheesemaking class

Walking magazine - November issue

Wednesday, November 08, 2017
The November Walking NZ magazine has a good feature on Rata Escape. 
Also lots of other great places to explore!!