Boutique Barnstay – Staveley, South Island, NZ

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Peak Hill winter walk

Friday, July 29, 2016

Nine brave winter hikers set off to climb Peak Hill, an iconic walk any time of the year!Sandwiched between the mighty Rakaia river and Lake Coleridge, this gives an impressive view of the upper tributaries of the Rakaia river.

Thought I should have some fun in the lovely winter snow, needed a bit more propelling to make the most of it! Come and join us to see these awesome views any time of the year. 

Rata Escape Launched!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

In the Foothills of Mid Canterbury, a new and exciting tourism venture has recently been launched. Rata Escape, as the letters spell out, offers Rural Adventure Tours and Accommodation.

The accommodation base of Rata Lodge is located in Staveley and this “boutique barnstay” is set in a private bush garden under the grand presence of Mount Somers.

Rata Escape also offers custom-made day adventures exploring the spectacular Mid Canterbury backcountry. Activities include guided hiking, mountain biking, 4WD exploring, farm tours and creative workshops. There is the option of fully catered or self-contained stays.

For the two enthusiastic business owners, this venture is a step into new territory and “a way to keep our grey matter working” they add, laughing.

The friends, Judith Sommerville and Elspeth Jaine, dreamt up the concept during their weekly jaunts with like-minded tramping buddies of the “Foothills Social Climbers”.

Previously, Judith has spent many years teaching at Mount Hutt College. Now she coordinates the Boost Programme and supports the team of volunteers assisting with literacy in Ashburton Primary Schools.

Elspeth has stepped back from her career in physiotherapy where until a few months ago she was visiting older Mid Canterbury residents to encourage them with the Falls Prevention Programme. She sees their new venture along the same continuum of promoting activity and wellness as we age. “I imagine our adventure tours appealing to people of middle age and older, possibly groups of friends on a yearly trip away together. Comfortable lodgings, good food which is prepared for you, and interesting outdoor options to let you explore this stunning and uncrowded corner of New Zealand.”

Both women have a creative streak and they are keen to involve local artists in their venture. The workshops which are on offer are watercolour painting, floral design, cheesemaking and limestone sculpting.

Judith and Elspeth are excited to be gearing up for the coming season and to have the opportunity to share their love for the outdoors with visitors. They encourage you to check out their website at and join them as they “Breathe in the Backcountry”!