Amidst the Marlborough Sounds, a region which is famous for its wine, the small and slightly sleepy town Picton is located. This picturesque town is a gateway to experience the extensive network of sea-droned valleys and deltas of the South Island of New Zealand. The water slowly meanders its way through the land and no matter where I looked, there was water everywhere. Thus it wasn’t a big surprise that we took a water taxi to reach our next location, the Lochmara Lodge. Surrounded by forests and bays, the water taxi was gliding through the creeks, while I was constantly staring at the water to see one of the dolphins that were meant to romp around here. I could get used to this kind of transportation. After half an hour we arrived at the Lochmara Wildlife Recovery and Arts Center. We went ashore and my journey into this little wonderland began.
Paths wound through the 4,5 hectare of bushland and on my foray through the sculpture park I discovered little secrets hidden everywhere. The Arts Center is not a physical place, but kind of a living gallery of art and sculptures, made of wood, stone and various materials, always in interaction with the surrounding nature. We climbed up the gentle hill and the view was stunning. I passed a small bee house, odd-shaped plants, numerous hammocks, hidden faces, as the ‘Papatuanuku’ or teapots hanging in trees. I met one of the artists who was just working on his latest sculpture. Many of the artists live here, organize exhibitions, lectures and workshops. High above the bay, I found a hidden cabin, ‘Crumpy’s Camp’. Outside was a huge fireplace, thick logs and antlers adorning the walls, little spoons hanging from the ceiling and an open bathroom to take a bubble bath in nature. I don’t know if Crumpy ever lived here, but I would definitely consider moving here, wrap some warm blankets around me at night and watch the stars in front of the campfire. Further up the hill I came to a small clearing. In the glittering sunlight I took a short break on a little couch stocked with thousands of small mosaic pieces, before I made my way down again and was chased by chickens and Will, the pot-bellied pig.
The Lodge is a wonderful retreat to escape our busy daily life with no road access and no TV. Started 13 years ago as a backpacker hostel, the Lodge now offers 14 idyllic accommodations, surrounded by nothing but nature. The award-winning lodge is famous for its innovation and sustainability, while they are also including a Wildlife Recovery Centre, where they provide a facility for injured wildlife to be housed and nursed, until they can be released back into the wild. They also breed native endangered species such as Gecko and New Zealand Kakariki parakeets. The Kakariki parakeet gave us a little goodbye kiss as we left this beautiful place of which the owners say ‘Spoil yourself with an escape to Lochmara Lodge, but come prepared – you may never want to leave’. True words I’d say.
Lochmara Lodge · Lochmara Bay · Queen Charlotte Sound · Marlborough
Text & pictures by Anke Nunheim