After touring a good deal of New Zealand's North Island, I began exploring Wellington and local weekend getaway, Ammara Lodge. It's about an hour's drive north of Wellington up the Kapiti coast. Within moments of pulling into the driveway, it was clear I was in for a real treat.
Entering the main house was like stepping into a Nancy Meyers film. The decor is an elegant combination of clean, modern, and warm. Glass doors create a nice light, open feel, and simply put, it's all beautiful.
Adrienne and Keith who own this beautiful property kindly offered a tour of their farm. We started off with the garden, full of fresh herbs, lettuce, and tomato (later used for dinner), and them made our way to the quails whose eggs also make an appearance later on. Ammara olive trees produce delicious olive oil, filling these large silver vats. They've got everything!
Then we visited this baby lamb (about a week old) who needed to be bottle fed.
I'd been dying to get my hands on a lamb after seeing hundreds of them flop around the green hills up north, and I was finally able to hold this little sweetie.
She loved the attention, as did Wendy the very friendly black sheep, who I was able to feed some niblets to -- we couldn't leave her out!
Then I met the chickens, doves, and my personal favorite, Chockie the alpaca.
There were two other cute alpacas, but Chockie won me over after she darted towards me for a nuzzle in to say hello.
It was kind of amazing. As you can see, she also loves Keith.
Time to chill. Rooms at Ammara are undeniably comfortable, well thought out, and wonderfully tech free, but I especially appreciated the luxury after spending two weeks in cramped, soulless hostels, climbing up bunk beds in rooms with 6 or more people.
No bunks here! I immediately shut myself away in my own private room and enjoyed some much-needed space and quiet. The calm of the farm's trickling stream, Tui birds singing in the background, and sheep baaing nearby were incredibly relaxing. I think their dog, Hollie felt the same way.
If you want to venture out a bit, Te Horo beach is one of many things to do in the area, a short drive away.
It's incredibly rocky in this area but sandy further south. Driftwood decorates the beach, for a very interesting and rugged contrast to an otherwise typical shoreline.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, beans were cooking, and bread was rising. Adrienne prepared an incredible spread of appetizers making us mmm and ahhh, while she worked on dinner. We filled up on the best salmon, brie, homemade bread, olive oil, and hard boiled quail eggs (thanks to the birds we visited earlier). There's nothing like farm-fresh goodness!
As you can imagine, dinner was also amazing. Tender organic chicken in a sauce Adrienne has developed over time, alongside black beans and salad filled us up, and then of course we managed to find room for dessert.
Panna cotta finished off this perfect meal, while sitting by the warmth of the fireplace.
Before heading back to Wellington, a stop at the nearby farmers market is a great place for some local goodies. It's just around the corner from the farm and starts at a reasonable hour (10am). You just may find that nice homemade soap or little trinket you've been looking for!
Adrienne and Keith are incredibly warm hosts and have created a relaxing and fun atmosphere. They make everything seem effortless (which undoubtedly means a lot of hard work) and truly enjoy life at Ammara. It's a special place that's definitely worth a stay.
While it may not be the most budget-friendly option, sometimes you just need to splash out and indulge in some luxury on a farm. Bring your appetite, a great book, and unplug from city life.
Links and Information:
Ammara Lodge B&B
Map from Wellington area.
Country Market down the road is open on Sundays, from 10am-12:30pm
Wwoofing opportunities are available here.