Stargazing in the Pukaki Wine Cellar Observatory and astrophotography
Join us for a Dark Sky Experience at Pukaki Cellar Observatory. This is stargazing in style under the world class Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve!
The onsite Observatory is integrated into an underground wine cellar where you can combine telescope viewing and deep space astrophotography with a selection of some of New Zealand's best wines and gourmet nibbles.
This is an exclusive and relaxed way to explore the Dark Sky with your hosts.
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Our wellness menu draws inspiration from our indigenous land and culture. Based on holistic therapies connecting our guests to their wairua (spirit) and to our natural environment, encouraging a sense of hauora (wellbeing).
Pamper your mind and body with our wellness experiences.
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The Tastes of Nature Cuisine Experiences
The Retreat’s cuisine is rooted in what comes from our large vegetable garden and the local suppliers in our region. Often described as ‘foodie heaven’, our cuisine wanders the line between refined and rugged, borrowing from both fine dining and simple foods defined by freshness and the tastes of nature.Explore the foodie happenings around the Retreat, rolling up your sleeves to participate or just observing, and spending time in the Retreat’s kitchen or garden with our chef and land manager.
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Aoraki Mt Cook World Heritage Park Heli Tours
You will be whisked away by helicopter from the lawn in front of the Ashley Mackenzie Villa.
Your tour will head to Mt Cook and the west coast of New Zealand for a spectacular experience including a glacier landing.
Take time to simply relax
Play a game of tennis (racquets provided) or croquet on the lawn, read your favourite book, find the perfect photo, or simply enjoy the clear air, tranquility and beauty of the surrounding landscape.
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Cycle the local section of Alps to Ocean cycleway.
Luke and I believe that the most spectacular sections of the cycleway are located right here in the Mackenzie.
Cycle around Lake Pukaki and through to Lake Ohau. Your experience could be from 2 hours to a full day. Superb!
We have two purpose built bikes that you are most welcome to use at any time free of charge. Or we can book a day tour with our local A2O providers.
Indulge your senses at the Lavender Farm
Take an hour or two to walk through the lavender fields just 800 metres from our gate.
Simply indulge your senses or visit the farm stall to take a little of the award winning oils and products home.
The lavender is in bloom from December through February.
Explore the Glaciers
New Zealand’s largest glacier, the Tasman Glacier, and the Mueller Glacier are both located at Mt Cook. The terminal lakes of both glaciers are accessible by walking. They are located in the Aoraki Mt Cook World Heritage Park, just a ½ hour drive from here. We recommend that you set aside a day to explore this area.
Tasman Glacier viewing point is a 30-minute return walk and the Hooker Glacier viewing point is a 3-hour return walk. We have maps showing how to get to the terminal lakes and can help you to plan your day, recommending the best places to eat and other sights worth visiting.
Explore the Tasman Glacier by Boat
An amazing encounter with Tasman Glacier and its terminal lake. Board boat and enjoy the ever changing scenery.
View the Tasman Glacier ice face from a safe distance with the opportunity to touch and taste the 300-500 year old ice crystals.
The Explorer operates from early September to late May.
Step into the past on the Red Cat Biplane
Experience the Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki Mt Cook National Park from the air in a two passenger seat, open cockpit biplane. Just like the red baron you get to wear a leather flying jacket, leather helmet and flying goggles!
Headphones within each helmet allow you to hear a commentary from the pilot. The Red Cat is located 10 minutes from here at Pukaki Airport.
The heart of Middle Earth
Experience a 2 hour classic Lord of the rings tour. Whether you are a LOTR fan or just want to learn more about movie making, from finding locations, setting up stunts, visual effects, and finding extras for large armies!
This tour takes in the all of the major scenes filmed in and around Twizel area. Get behind the locked gates and stand in the footsteps of the actors surrounded by the stunning scenery of Middle-earth!
And the Retreat is located on Lake Pukaki ... aka as Laketown in the Hobbit movies!
Tasman Glacier skiing, heli-skiing, heli-biking or heli-hiking with experienced guides and in one of the world's most untouched mountain environments.
We are often asked when is the best time to visit? Each part of the year offers something different, however one of our favourite times is late June to the end of September.
Experience the beauty of our “Winter Wonderland. We have 3 ski fields within one hours’ drive and some of the world’s best Heli-skiing.
Soar silently over local lakes, rivers and mountains. This adventure offers a stunning introduction to the joy of flying gliders.
You are likely to have wonderful views of Mount Cook and the great lakes.
Flights from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours are available.
Booking is weather dependent and is essential.
The Ultimate Lunch!
The ultimate way to experience gourmet dining!
Departing right from Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat's heli pad, you will be whisked away into the Mt Cook National Park for an exclusive sightseeing tour and dining experience.
Fly Fishing for Salmon and Trout
The Retreat is located in the heart of a vast inter montane basin well known as a fly fishing and game hunting destination.
There is an abundance of trout in the clear waters of the region and this can produce wonderful sport, especially since rainbow trout are present in most waters along with their brown trout counterparts.and there are several fishing choice with over 30 streams, lakes and canals, all within 1 hour's drive from the Retreat.
Make the Retreat your base for your next fishing and game experience. Fishing guides can be arranged for you.
Walk the giant erratic track.
Around 20,000BC the glaciers ruled this area and today there are signs of their retreat back to the Southern Alps.
Just beside the Ashley Mackenzie Villa is a short walkway to the memorial garden marked by a huge glacial erratic. At the southern end of Lake Pukaki is 'kettlehole' track where you can view a large kettlehole left by the retreating glaciers and in fact the banks of Lake Pukaki are formed with terminal moraine.
Curling in Winter
Just below the Villa is a small man-made pond which freezes in winter and is perfect for curling.
Curling is a Scottish traditional sport (similar to outdoor bowls) and is very popular here in winter. The ice is naturally produced here and a ‘Bonspeil’ is called when the ice has reached perfect condition. Traditionally players wear a kilt and Tam’o’shanter and take a wee tot of whisky to keep warm whilst playing.
As a natural rink, the opportunity to curl is weather dependent, but when the ice is ready, we are keen!
Onsite Walking Tracks
There are 5 kilometres of walking / running tracks through the pine forest around the Retreat with options for shorter walks.
You will need sneakers / gym shoes for these tracks. There are a variety of plants on the track including native matagouri, ferns, fungi of various types including amanita muscaria (red with white spots), native grasses and climbers.
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