Staying on a farm in Twizel
On our New Zealand trip we stayed on a family owned farm in the small town of Twizel. This was our stop between the cities of Christchurch and Queenstown on the South Island, and we were there for two nights while we hiked in Aoraki/Mount Cook and explored what was nearby. Over time, family-owned farms have definitely become more popular as a retreat for couples and families. I don’t really see myself living on a farm or in the country long-term, but I can see why some people call it home. I am grateful that some families choose to share their space with visitors, just as Angela and Darren from Highlands Farm Stay did. They have a few options on their property for accommodation and we stayed in the Executive Barn, which we booked through Airbnb (but you can of course book directly with them).
Something Nick has always wanted to do is to see the stars in the night sky, which is really only impressive if you are in a place with little artificial light, no light pollution, and no light from the moon, on a clear night. Essentially in the “middle of nowhere”. 😅 Unfortunately, the few times we have been in this situation, something let us down and we weren’t able to see the twinkle of hundreds of stars across the sky. This time, we had a full moon on one of the nights we stayed in Twizel, so there was only an extremely small window of time during which the sun was down and the moon was up. Even then, we still got light coming from the sun setting or the moon rising. I guess I’ll see something like that one day. ✨
The Executive Barn was a very cosy spot. It was spacious and the carpet was honestly the best carpet I’d ever felt under my feet, and I even lay on it for a bit because it was so comfortable. 😆 I’m one of those people who loves to lie on the carpet. But it makes a huge difference if the carpet is fluffy and soft. The barn felt warm during the day from the sun beaming on it, and stayed relatively warm at night. The bathroom was wheelchair accessible, as was the shower. There was a lot of room in the bathroom as well.
The kitchen was well equipped for cooking, tea, and coffee, and we were supplied with a breakfast basket that had everything we needed for a nice breakfast. For other things, we could drive into town which was only about a ten minute drive away.
Although there was an outdoor bathtub, we didn’t end up using it. I like the idea of an outdoor bathtub but I think I prefer them indoor. There is something just a little bit impractical about an outdoor one, and it doesn’t feel completely clean, even if you rinse it down and whatnot. You would doubtless get some debris floating in there from the outside air. I’d probably still take a proper shower afterwards—as with a Japanese onsen (hot springs), I agree with the idea of showering, then bathing, then showering again. I mean, fundamentally, sitting in a bath doesn’t quite get you clean clean.
Of course some of the other highlights of staying on a farm is interacting with the farm animals, provided you’re not allergic or don’t have a huge aversion to them. Nick and I both had some limited experience on the farms we had at our respective high schools. I can’t say I totally loved my school one, but it was definitely a place I loved to hang out in. About as close as you can get to real nature in a school. In our accommodation there were different labelled plastic containers of animal feed, some of which we used to feed the animals. Our hosts left a map to point out where some of the animals were, but of course that changed depending on the season. So we let ourselves have a wander.
We did end up chatting to Darren as he drove out for work in his ute (utility truck, if you’re not Australian), and chatted to Angela before we were about to explore more of the farm. They both encouraged us to have a look around the property. Since there were other people staying in the other accommodation, we tried not to disturb them, but some of the sheep were adamant on following us once they saw us feeding some of the goats! 😱 They followed us a while down the paddock, continuing to “baa”, really getting close as we were trying to hide the feed from them. They got quite pushy! Hahaha.
It wasn’t until later during our stay that we met Jessie the dog, who was extremely excited to meet us and really wanted to stick around near the Executive Barn. It took a little bit of ignoring her for her to finally return home, since she was watching us through the glass doors of the barn as it got dark. She still seemed so happy to see us every time.
A couple of other things I wanted to tack onto this post are the beautiful views from Lake Tekapo—which is another option for accomodation if you are looking to visit Aoraki, and the options are a bit resort-like—and some photos from the Alpine Lavender farm which has some sweet treats including soft serve ice cream infused with lavender. Although you can find lavender in many places, this place is particularly unique because it is in an alpine region. We didn’t end up actually paying to go through the fields—we have seen lavender a bunch of times before—but it’s only about $5 entry.
Even though I don’t see myself living on a farm or really spending a lot of time on one, I enjoy the unique experiences that staying on one brings. I like unique experiences when travelling, and I know some of them can seem glorified, but it’s nice when they give a bit of an authentic taste of life elsewhere.