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Riverrun review, Wanaka, New Zealand: a summer and winter destination

TIME : 2-26 17:44:37

Riverrun review, Wanaka, New Zealand: a summer and winter destination

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Our rating

4 out of 5

THE PLACE

Riverrun, Wanaka, New Zealand

HIGHLIGHT

Drinking in the awesome mountain scenery with one of the region's pinot noirs.

LOWLIGHT

Walk with care. The highly polished jarrah timber floors, lifted from a psychiatric hospital in Melbourne, can be slippery.

THE LOCATION

One hour's drive from Queenstown, Wanaka is both a summer and winter destination, with hiking and biking trails, horse-trekking, climbing and canyoning adventures for the restless.

The Wanaka and Hawea lakes as well as New Zealand's largest river, the Clutha, are ideal for kayaking, paddle-boarding, fly-fishing and lake fishing or a skinny dip if you're crazy brave. 

Central Otago is renowned for its pinot noir vineyards and for producing fine pinot gris, chardonnay and riesling wines. Archangel, Rippon Vineyard and Swallows Crossing are close to Wanaka and well worth a visit.

THE SPACE

The property, on more than 200 hectares of merino farm, was originally the "river run block" of a larger sheep farm run by the Halliday brothers, who were prospectors during the Cardrona goldrush of the 1880s.

The five-bedroom lodge uses recycled timber rescued from beer vats, the Melbourne Railway workshops and a psychiatric hospital, which adds to the property's charm.

Two ground floor lounges with log fires and comfortable sofas are inviting if the weather turns sour, and a generous supply of fruit and home-made cookies are never far away.

Outside, the lodge has verandahs with lounges, an open firepit and a cedar spa to unwind after the day's exertions, or make friends with Riverrun's resident "miniature panthers", Felix and Francesca.

THE ROOM

Sleeping in Prince Harry's bed is not the usual holiday memory you take home from New Zealand, but Riverrun's owner, Meg Taylor, confirms Harry did indeed rest his regal head in my room.

Lucky him. The luxurious down bedding on my king-size is hard to tear yourself away from (with or without a royal next to you), while furnishings are suitably understated. A television sits unobtrusively in a corner, with Apple TV, although it really would be a sin to massage the remote control or utilise the free Wi-Fi given the splendid views and activities.

The walk-in shower has enough room for a prince and his security detail, while the Linden Leaves pamper products are sweet-smelling but not cloying.

THE FOOD

Riverrun's communal dining table provides an opportunity to dine with fellow guests, who range from business types to writer Ian McEwen, Russian helicopter enthusiasts and the odd royal.

Dinner is served at 8pm in summer, 7.30pm in winter, Monday to Friday, and can be booked for $95.

Riverrun's chef, Karen Marinkovic, dishes up unfussy fare using top-quality local produce. Hungry Harry reportedly sat down to a feast of Cardrona merino lamb and Aoraki salmon, and Blue River cheese quiche washed down with Mount Difficulty Roaring Meg and Felton Road pinot noirs.

STEPPING OUT

Arriving early after being blown off the ski slopes at Cardrona, Taylor takes me on a 20-kilometre cycle tour along one of the many scenic trails that lace the area.

Cardrona and Treble Cone are the closest ski resorts, while the more daring can explore Mount Aspiring National Park.

The Rob Roy Glacier hike through beech forest and past waterfalls, and the trek through the remote Siberia Valley are just two of the day hikes close to Riverrun.

THE VERDICT

Riverrun is a peaceful, unpretentious retreat for adventurers who don't mind pampering after a day of exploring the region's spectacular landscape. 

ESSENTIALS

Riverrun, 86 Halliday Road, Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand.

The downstairs Cardrona room (queen bed, en suite) is $380 a night, while the upstairs Clutha room (super king bed or twin beds, en suite) is $475 a night. Rates include breakfast and evening appetisers. See riverrun.co.nz

The writer was a guest of New Zealand Ski Tourism Marketing Network .