Boutique Barnstay – Staveley, South Island, NZ

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Cheesemaking workshop at Rata

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We have recently enjoyed the company of the Mauter family who signed up for various activities from Rata including a cheesemaking workshop instructed by Jude. Using fresh milk from the mornings milking.... these cheese connoiseurs were very keen to get started! 

Below are some photos from a fun morning creating and sampling feta and haloumi, with the alternative entertainment of flax weaving on the side during the "brewing" stages. We shared a tasty lunch made from all local ingredients including the cheese. Cheers!!

Te Araroa Trail

Monday, February 06, 2017
 Te Araroa ....translated as The Long Pathway snakes its way through the length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff in the south or vice versa. 3000km long! It was developed in its entirety just a few years ago and is becoming increasingly popular with New Zealanders and overseas trampers. 
The trail passes through our backcountry in the Hakatere Conservation Area and I happily joined my son Robbie for his final 3 days of his month walking from the top of the South Island to home - 550km. We walked from the Rakaia River, over Clent Saddle to the Ashburton Gorge and spent the nights at Comyns Hut with other TA walkers and the beautiful setting of Double Hut. Lots of basic fare on the menu and a real cameraderie amongst fellow long distance walkers!

Cooking up a storm!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

On Thursday it was time to ensure that our culinary plans would fit the bill for our future guests who wish to take up our catered option. So a creative session ensued with our foodie-guru friend Leigh, as we whisked, chopped, and BBQed, chatted and laughed the afternoon away.


All the while we were timing and taking notes so that we can leave specific cooking instructions to go with the fresh and local ingredients which we supply for a sumptuous, but quick and simple, at-home dinner. Lucky Charles and Baden who joined us for the evening to critique our efforts. 

Good health or Slainte mhaith (as we say in Scotland!!) 

Labour weekend - first guests

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What a beautiful, blue sky day for our first guests to arrive this Labour Weekend. Rata Escape is officially open for business!

The last few weeks have seen Jude and I busily gathering, creating and recycling furnishings for the the Lodge....... and it has been a lot of fun! A deadline is a great thing for getting the creative juices flowing, and Baden and Charles have been willingly on hand too .... thanks guys!

I will include a few pics to tempt any folk who are in need of some R & R in an uplifting setting, close to the mountains and native bush, and surrounded by very green, lush farmland thanks to the generous spring.


While our guests were hopefully enjoying all of the above, down on the farm it was a lovely day to be tailing lambs!

Spring Challenge Fever - a hiking, biking, rafting adventure race!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Judith and I have just returned from a strenuous but fun long weekend in Golden Bay (NW corner of the South Island) accompanied by team mate Shirley and our faithful support crew (Suzanne, Janet, Baden, Murray .... thanks so much guys!). It was the 10th Spring Challenge - a now HUGE womens adventure race with 450 teams taking part (about 1350 crazy women!) Bike laden cars and raft laden trailers all converged on this beautiful area over the Takaka Hill.


Saturday dawned a bit grey but there was a great buzz in the air. The race has 3, 6, or 9hr options and we fit the super vets criteria being so mature in age (if not character). The start involved a 1km run to the Aorere River where all the white water rafts plus operstors from the South Island were lined up on the bank. Two teams to a raft and steady paddling for two hours through bush clad limestone gorges and over moderate rapids. One of our paddling mates ended up in the water following a rock-jammed paddle but was promptly fished out!

The next stage for us doing the 6-hour was a hilly mountainbike leg. The rain had turned the clay to orange goo - the ups involving a lot of pushing and the downs including the odd closeup encounter with a gorse bush.

Next stage was a rogaine (like orienteering) through farmland and bush with a 50m canoe paddle thrown in for good measure across an estuary. Finally the home straight of 3km along the beach to the finish line . Such joy to reach the conclusion and relief on the mud spattered faces of the competitors.

It truly was a challenge ... but as with these things, the satisfaction of completion is a wonderful reward. The Walkie Talkies survived to walk and talk some more!

And the good news for next years Spring Challenge..... it is to be held in Geraldine.

Nice and close to Rata Lodge for some training expeditions!

Native falcon on its rocky perch keeping an eye on the Canterbury plains

Saturday, September 17, 2016
Out in the back country today and sitting up where we were climbing was a beautiful native falcon. After the birds I posted a few days ago here is another to add to the collection.

Spring has come to the farm in Staveley

Friday, September 16, 2016
Lots to see on the farm in Springtime, what with the baby animals and then there is the environmental planting and getting the cows back to the dairy farm for calving it is all go down on the farm. Enjoy some of my pictures or better still come and see for yourself!

Local fauna around Mt Somers

Thursday, September 15, 2016

We met some of our local Cantabrians this week when we were hiking in the Hakatere Conservation Park. From a weta sunning himself on a rock, two Crested Grebe resplendent in their mating plumage, very cute banded dotterel and a lovely singing skylark.


Double Hill in the middle of the mighty Rakaia River

Tuesday, August 02, 2016
Stunning day to discover the braided river iconic to the South Island. We traveled up the side of the Rakaia river to double Hill, left behind from the glaciers that carved the landscape(a bit too rocky for them to remove!)great views up to the headwaters of the Rakaia and where the Mathias river flows into the Rakaia. Great day with a little bit of effort!

Trap Line Lake Herron

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The last Sunday of each month sees a small group of volunteers head up to Lake Heron to clear and refresh the traps around lake Heron in the Hakatere Conservation Park. On our trip up today we came across a woolly flock of merinos heading for the shearing shed, for some scrummy woolen jumpers!


Beautiful Lake Heron where we have our trap line.


 Timms trap and one dead feral cat. We got 15 in all and four stoats and five hedgehogs(thought they would be hibernating!!!)


Lunchtime,what a beautiful cafe!!!



....and we found a wilding pine a menace of the high country!



One last vermin, think how many native species we have saved ..... lizards, birds, insects .......