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With a moniker promising guests the opportunity to “stay where the world can’t find you,” Annandale Coastal Farm Escape and Luxury Villas, located on New Zealand’s quirky Banks Peninsula, suggests the romantic escape of modern-day royalty or a hideout worthy of Bond.
Dramatic architecture, combined with exclusivity and top-notch service set this unique destination apart and make it a coveted home-away-from home for travelers seeking privacy, discretion and ultimate relaxation.
The Banks Peninsula feels a world away from the already remote islands of New Zealand. Hospitality and livestock are deeply embedded in its culture – a tradition still maintained today. Since the mid-1800s, years before the establishment of Christchurch, migrants settled with their families on the rural peninsula in search of land and places to raise their herds. The relative isolation, agrarian lifestyle, and combined Maori, English, and French influences, result in a culture that prides itself on high-quality service, warmth, adventure and good food.
Annandale combines the best of the Banks Peninsula’s unique culture and heritage to offer guests an experience like no other. The working coastal farm sits on thousands of acres of rugged coastline punctuated by private inlets and bays. Nestled within each valley, Annandale features just four luxury villas, each designed with unique style and award-winning architecture.
Two villas, Seascape and Scrubby Bay, sit nestled in the dramatic privacy of their own bays. Seascape is glass-enclosed and incredibly romantic. Scrubby Bayboasts a private pool, three bedrooms and a bunk room, making it a perfect family escape.
Up the hill and out of sight, The Homestead and Shepherd’s Cottage maintain close ties to the original family ranch, albeit with luxurious updates. The Homestead boasts an infinity pool, tennis courts, a private gym and easy access to activities in the area, while the very private Shepherd’s Cottage sits atop one of the property’s stunning hills, with unobstructed views of New Zealand’s stunning coastline.
Visitors to Annandale enjoy the rare opportunity to escape from the rest of the world and enjoy precious time carved out for love and family. The luxury of time leaves guests feeling content and full, and with activities ranging from cycling and ATV adventures, to the favorite Kiwi pastime of “tramping” and dining on ingredients fresh from the farm’s award-winning gardens, there is no shortage of things to do. Each morning, I enjoyed running the softly padded dirt trails along Pigeon Bay. The pastel morning sunrise against a glacial-blue ocean mirrored the paintings of Captain Cook’s contemporaries in an environment that has seen little change since Cook’s first voyage.
Dining atAnnandale Coastal Farm Escape and Luxury Villas is exceptional, with meals coming straight from the property’s expansive organic garden. The property offers private dining options as well as a “we make, you prepare” option that provides guests the opportunity to choose privacy in the comfort of their own villa. Beyond the property, the seaside town of Akaroa is enjoying a quiet renaissance and offers a variety of creative restaurants that feature ingredients from the area. I suggest Rona’s, where visitors can dine al fresco in the restaurant’s cozy backyard garden.
The Banks Peninsula offers a variety of outdoor adventures and activities. Some of my favorites included an ATV ride through pastures and fields to the top of Annandale Estate where we were treated to some of the most spectacular views. Sea kayaking in Flea Bay is another activity that can’t be missed and where, depending on the season, visitors will see nursing sea lion pups, Hector’s Dolphins, and the Korora penguin, the world’s tiniest species of sea bird.
The Banks Peninsula is only about an hour and a half from Christchurch, perfect for a few days’ escape off the beaten track of tourists and backpackers. March through May is New Zealand’s fall and one of the most beautiful times to visit, though the best time to see some of the best wildlife is in the spring from November to December.
(Leslie Canter, of Departure Lounge, is a travel advisor and travel/lifestyle blogger based in Washington D.C. Read more on her travels at www.canterburyjourneys.com).
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