An hour south-west of Blenheim is the beautiful Spray Point Station where you can relax in an outdoor bath and soak up all that rural New Zealand has to offer. Jenny and Roland Mapp have three options of accommodation around their high country station but the restored Cobb Cottage has to take the cake. The cottage was originally built in the 1900's to house the men who drove sheep through to the Molesworth but the quality of the interior restoration far surpasses what those blokes ever would have experienced. From the deck you look out over the picturesque Waihopai river and a small path leads down to the side of the cliff where you can enjoy an outdoor shower with hot water whilst gazing up the valley. We set out from Blenheim around 10am and were surprised just how far up the Waihopai Valley Road we had to travel.
We had been married just three days and I relished the chance to get away from the busyness of the previous week as we wound our way up the quiet road. The Spy Station (two giant golf balls surrounded by barbed wire fences) is the only thing out of place in this part of the country. We stopped for a few minutes at the Waihopai Power Station as the waterfall is worth checking out before driving the remaining distance to the station. Admittedly we had a little trouble as no one was anywhere to be seen when we arrived and we let ourselves into the Cottage, a short distance from the main homestead, not really knowing what to do. A glass of wine later and the owners turned up incredibly apologetic. We hadn't booked ourselves as the night was a wedding present from a friend and the reservation wasn't on the computer to remind them we were coming. This wasn't a problem and they kindly set about showing us around the Cottage and offering a twilight drive up the mountain after dinner if we were interested.
This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip as we bundled into Roland's Ute some hours later only to head straight up the side of a ridge only partially marked out by a track. I spent the first few minutes debating just how scared of heights I was before I gave in and decided to just enjoy the view. When we reached the top the cloud had rolled in unfortunately and there was no chance of seeing all the way to Wellington. This was only a minor let down as just being at the top was incredible in itself. Roland then took us for a tour of the conservation land he takes care of including a stop by some of the New Zealand Falcon nesting in the area. We came away unscathed from the experience but the dog on the back of the truck only narrowly missed the bird's frequent attacks. From the tops we wound down and around other parts of the farm as Roland told us about his role in returning much of the land to conservation.
Back at the cottage it was time to fill up the outdoor baths perched atop a cliff overlooking the river. Heated by burners under the baths, we spent over an hour relaxing under the stars and drinking more wine. The cottage itself is split into two rooms with a kitchen and dining table in one and a Queen bed and four bunks in the other. The bathroom was just as beautifully done up and situated at the end of the building through a separate door. A breakfast of fresh bread and muesli was provided but the rest we self-catered using the kitchen and BBQ facilities.
I cannot recommend this little piece of paradise enough and the hosts are absolutely wonderful. Stay for a whole weekend and make the most of the many walking and mountain biking tracks in the area. On your return to Blenheim a wine tasting tour is also a must.
Off the Mapp Website