Durham Farms Luxury Stay is a glampsite apart from the rest. Yes, it has all the reassuring luxury features you could hope for in a premium tent experience. There are sculptural bell tents, lined with clever coir mats, set up on raised platforms; proper beds with comfy bamboo mattress toppers, crisp linens, and fluffy duvets; well-equipped kitchens with sharp utensils and whistling kettles; flush toilets, hot showers and fluffy towels.
And yes, it’s in a dreamy yet practical location, nestled in a small valley crossed by a gentle river, surrounded by forest and only an hour and a half drive from Auckland. But this stylish take on outdoor living also comes with an authentic and reassuring ethos.
The glampsite was established in 2019 by Adrian Townsend and Tania Bennett, founders of Durham Farms in Waipu, with the organic producer making its presence felt at local farmers markets and on the Auckland restaurant scene.
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You can find Durham Farms organic eggs at some grocers, you can buy Durham Farms organic A2 milk at more discerning dairies (you can also order one of their organic food boxes to be delivered to your tent when you arrive) .
You may have seen the episode of Country Calendar dedicated to their mixed farming approach, accompanied by idyllic images of the rolling landscape, picturesque livestock and their horde of free-range laying hens.
A sustainable organic philosophy and a passionate respect for nature form the backbone of the farm. It’s a philosophy that carries over to glampsite in a variety of practical and thoughtful ways.
For example, it is in the bones of the place. The thriving natural glampsite habitat is a direct result of their farming initiative.
“When we bought the farm in 2016,” says Townsend. “We immediately stopped using synthetic chemicals. Since switching to organic, we have seen the amount of birds and insects increase dramatically. Now there are mayflies, damselflies, dragonflies – all signs of a healthy ecosystem. We removed weeds and gorse and set aside 40% of the glamping site at Rivers Edge to plant over 1,000 native trees and shrubs.“
The different mānuka, pūriri, ti kōuka create walkways to toilets and kitchen cubicles and open a grassy play area. They encircle the relaxation yurt with its bright rugs and pouffes.
The planting creates intimacy between the two bell tents, Karaka and Tōtara, each named after the large native trees they sit beside. Both are furnished with a queen bed and a day bed that converts to two single beds.
Appropriately, bookings tend towards couples or young families. Private terraces and dining areas are equipped with Weber barbecues and pairs of Cape Cod chairs, ideal for watching kingfishers, tūī, kererū and fantails fluttering through the trees.
Not only is the glampsite off the grid, but the gray water flows through the reservoirs, is filtered by the plants, and eventually flows out to irrigate new planting areas. The waste is eaten by tiger worms.
There are the eco-conscious in good faith, but the style of the site is equally considerate.
“We like the idea of practical design, with respect for nature,” says Townsend.
Thus, much of the kitchen furniture, including the window moldings, is made from old tōtara fence posts from the farm; the flooring is in reclaimed rimu; windows and frames are salvaged.
The old beehive frame boxes were reused to make the kitchen cupboards. Decorated with vintage Kiwiana finds, vases of wildflowers strewn here and there, the kitchen and restroom buildings are covered in a distinctive red barn paint, echoing the farmhouse look and a nod. confident eye to the Kiwi heritage.
“If you go back a generation, many Kiwis had a rural connection, a farm belonging to a distant or not so distant family. It’s going away, but people still want to reconnect with nature,” says Townsend.
Here visitors can be as immersed in rural life as they wish.
“You can hide out and go offline for the weekend,” says Townsend.
“Or you can take the farm walk, pass a few stiles, via bee hives, take in views of Whangārei Heads and the Hen and Chicks Islands, spot livestock, visit our approximately 1950 free range chickens and end up at the farm shop where you can buy organic farm products – meat, eggs, honey, milk – for lunch.”
Taking a luxurious break to soak up the raw nature knowing that you will leave little footprint: this has to be the ultimate feel-good factor.
Stay there: Durham Farms Luxury Stay costs $250 for one night. The glamping site closes for the winter from April 17, 2022. Labor weekend season opens from October 21, 2022 to the end of Easter weekend April 10, 2023.
Reader Exclusive: Book two consecutive nights Monday through Thursday and save $50. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and use promo code ‘good stuff’. To see: durhamfarms.co.nz
Stay safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Face coverings are mandatory on all flights and public transport. Proof of vaccination and vaccine exemption may be required at some locations under the traffic light system. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.
The writer was hosted by Durham Farms.