Boutique Barnstay – Staveley, South Island, NZ

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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!!

Mission Mount Somers

Monday, October 30, 2017
Saturday 28th October dawned sunny and clear ....a great day for the Mission Mount Somers Enduranz event.
There are several races including the marathon full circuit of the mountain and the half marathon from Woolshed Creek to Staveley, as well as a 5km and 10 km loop. 

Organiser Glen Currie was thrilled with the full quota of registrations....almost 400. Staveley was certainly humming with plenty of supporters cheering in the athletes. And what a mission it is!

Well done to the winners with amazing times ....4hours 20mins  for the marathon, and just under 2 hours for the 1/2 marathon. 
The finish line said it all ....Mission Complete!

Rata Escape Spring Challenge

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
The final weekend of September saw Spring Challenge fever descend on Geraldine. The weather cleared nicely on the Saturday and plenty of energy was expended by the 1800 or so women taking part. What a buzz! Rafting on a high and fast Rangitata River, running halfway up and down Mt Peel, fracturing a wee finger, biking madly along gravel roads and orienteering along the way. 
Here we have the Rata Escape team (Shirley, Judith, Elspeth) trotting over the finish line very relieved to arrive ....after a good race despite a trial or two with the maps!

The team gear ...and taking the chance to advertise....

The following week we were out on our closer local mountain marking up the track for another hill race - Mission Mount Somers - which takes place in a couple of weeks. Can't have the competitors getting lost....!

Judith and Elspeth amongst the weathered mountain beech. 
It is clematis season and this native climber is a stand out in the beech forest at the moment. 

I can't help taking photos of the stunning patterning which occurs so beautifully in nature. Especially stunning on a dull day. 

Springing into spring

Friday, September 08, 2017
Spring is arriving in Mid Canterbury with daffodils, blossom, lambs and calves, although the temperatures are still very variable.

For South Island women there is a big challenge just around the corner, in fact only 3 weeks away!....the 11th Spring Challenge Adventure Race at the end of September.
This year it has become the biggest one day and highest participated adventure race in the World with 600 teams ....which equates to 1800 women participating!!
It is being held around Geraldine and Judith, Shirley and I have been getting out there and putting in a bit of effort with training for team Rata escape

New calves on our bike ride around Geraldine district.
And an uphill trip to work those legs ....with a fun a speedy route down!

Our tramp a week later was in the Peel Forest area to get our heads around the possible Spring Challenge geography.
The team slogged it to the top of Little Mt Peel via the route less travelled and looped back down the more trodden deer spur.
Great vistas!

Go Team Rata Escape ....Elspeth, Shirley, Judith!