Meet the Locals Behind Our Trips

Waitaki Braids Lodge, a2o | Elaina Culbert
Waitaki Braids Lodge, a2o | Elaina Culbert

One of the things we're most proud of at Adventure South NZ are the many relationships we've built with local accommodation providers, restaurants and operators over the last 27 years. It's these guys that make our trips special and unique, and they never fail to meet our groups with a smile, a story and even a cuppa.

We thought we'd introduce you to a few of our local accommodation providers, and hear about their journeys. It's a tough time for all industries right now, but it's super important not to forget about travelling local. By joining a trip, your not only supporting us, but these guys as well.

Of course if you're ever in the area and are looking for a place to stay, we'd recommend talking to these guys!


Lauder School B&B - Bruce and Esme
Bruce and Esme, Lauder School B&B |  <i>Esme Macdonald</i>

We are Bruce and Esme Macdonald and we have lived in Central Otago since 1986. In 2012 we decided to purchase the Lauder School B&B and move from our property in Galloway which had the Otago Central Rail Trail on one boundary. We had watched and listened to countless cyclists laughing and enjoying their adventure on the trail and moving to be part of the Rail Trail service community appealed to us.

Bruce is a keen ukulele player, is involved in two performing groups and, along with Esme, is one of the founders and organisers of the annual Lauder Ukulele Festival which is now in its seventh year. Bruce loves playing and singing with our guests and many of them have fond memories of a ukulele lesson or community sing-a-long during their stay at the Lauder School B&B.

Esme is a keen gardener and has developed the gardens around the B&B and our house to reflect her interest in no-dig gardening and permaculture principles. She is also a keen patchworker and quilter, more usually in the wintertime.

You can find Esme and Bruce in Lauder on the Otago Central Rail Trail.

Lauder School House accommodation |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i> Accommodation at the Lauder Railway School |  <i>Brad Atwal</i> Ready to ride after a comfortable night at the converted Lauder School B&B.

Waitaki Braids Lodge - Kate White
Kate White - Waitaki Braids |  <i>Kate White</i>

I came to live in the Waitaki Valley after marrying Pete who was born here and has followed in the family footsteps of a beekeeping business. I have reinvented myself a number of times here, I started a Preschool (from necessity due to still working in the film industry when my children were young). I was the ambulance manager for several years, and a honey exporter but probably the biggest thing I undertook here was in 2002 - 2004 when along with a small group of like minded people we challenged Meridian Energy when they decided to put 8 dams on the Waitaki River between the Waitaki Dam West of Kurow and the sea. This project would have destroyed the communities along the Waitaki and completely decimated the amazing braided river.

The building was originally built in 1885 so is Historic Places Trust listed which added to the red tape, it also needed to be earthquake proofed. All the tradesmen were from our region and all did an exceptional job.

I love the evenings and the cyclists and I've met some incredible people, from the doctors that run the medical practice in NZ poorest suburb, to those who work to volunteer, to politicians and well known sportspeople. The trail has brought these people to our town and this wouldn’t have happened without it.

The biggest thrill for me is providing a “surprise” for people coming to Kurow and hearing the guests when they see their rooms and meals. I love it when we have a little (one track only) boogie before they head to bed (usually around 830pm!). I have very loyal dedicated staff a couple of which I have given a start in their working life and that is the best thing ever. I’m not sure this is my last project I think I might reinvent myself again in the future. I’d rather build Habitat for Humanity houses than win Lotto!!!

Waitaki Braids Lodge, a2o |  <i>Elaina Culbert</i> Waitaki Braids Kurow | Accommodation |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i> Waitaki Braids Lodge restaurant and lounge area

Waitaki Braids try to provide the ultimate experience for the cyclist on the Alps to Ocean trail, a special treat, we have seven ensuite rooms within the lodge all with their own private conservatory area.  At the front of the Waitaki Braids building we have an elegant cafe where cyclists that are staying enjoy a set menu in the evenings of 3 courses. Breakfast for cyclists is also served in the cafe before we open it to the public, our signature breakfast dish is “Posh Porridge”, and we send cyclists off with our special home baked packed lunch. We try to use as many local ingredients as we can and are lucky to live in a great food producing area. We like to show case local wines of which there is a great selection, we feel part of the “Family” of the wine producers from our area, we only sell one wine that doesn’t have grapes grown in the Waitaki Valley.

You can find Kate in Kurow on the Alps to Ocean Trail.

Burnside Homestead - Cathy and Marcus Holgate
Cathy and Mark Holgate - Burnside Homestead |  <i>Cathy Holgate</i>

Marcus and Cathy have recently taken on the ownership and care of Burnside Homestead - one of Oamaru’s oldest historic homesteads. Marcus comes from a background of project management, and Cathy is a semi-retired veterinarian. They are assisted in their day to day activities by Bentley, their friendly Hungarian Vizsla. Burnside Homestead is a category 1 NZ listed heritage property. A grand country home built in the late Victorian era (1890’s), Burnside has retained almost all of its original features.

The extensive gardens were planted 30 years before the house was built and have matured into a quiet and bird filled woodland and park for wandering amongst. Burnside is located inland from Oamaru in the beautiful Waitaki Valley. It is a celebratory luxury stop on the last leg of the Alps to Ocean cycle trail, and a peaceful and picturesque place to base a stay in the Waitaki district. Burnside Homestead offers an experience as much as a place to stay, a step back into the opulence of the past.

You can find Cathy and Marcus on the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail.


Stay at Burnside Homestead on our Alps to Ocean Cycle |  <i>Stephen Tulley</i> A gourmet meal at Burnside Homestead is one highlight of our trip |  <i>Daniel Thour</i> Our bikes parked up for the night at Burnside Homestead |  <i>Dan Thour</i>

Ben Lomond Station - John and Ginny Foster

John and Ginny from Ben Lomond Station |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>

True, local kiwi hospitality can be hard to come by when travelling in New Zealand these days but there's no shortage of it here. John and Ginny Foster are the proud owners and managers of the private Ben Lomond Station. Originally farming a small coastal property in Golden Bay, they moved to the high country in 1987.

John and Ginny's son, Hamish Foster and wife Rachael have recently started running Moonlight Lodge. Hamish guides walks through the station and tells the unique high country story of farming super fine woolled merino sheep, while preserving the tussock lands. He also provides interpretation of old gold mining relics and huts left behind.

Moonlight Lodge easily makes the list as one of NZ's most comfortable and secluded back-country lodges. Located deep in the Moonlight Valley, a 14km walk from the Shotover Valley will bring you to the comfort of the lodge. Fit with double/twin ensuite rooms, a spacious lounge, dining area with a licenced bar, large stone fireplace, and commanding views of the peaks that surround - you'll feel relaxed in no time.

Moonlight Lodge |  <i>Hamish Foster</i> Cosy accommodation at Moonlight Lodge |  <i>Hamish Foster</i> Moonlight Station (MSQ) |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>

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