A business school, watersports facility and winery tasting room are among the shortlisted finalists for the 2020 Southern Architecture Awards.

New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) southern branch shortlisted its 26 finalists last week.

The shortlist covers a range of projects in Otago and Southland, in categories from commercial and educational, to alterations and interiors. Jury convener Stacey Farrell said the list illustrated the "outstanding" quality of the region’s architecture.

"It’s great to see the difference good architecture is making in the communities of our region.

"Making an awards shortlist decided by your peers is a significant achievement for any architect."

She said Covid-19 lockdown restrictions meant judges’ site visits had been postponed until they could safely resume.

Winners are expected to be announced in June.

Commercial Architecture

Education

Hospitality

Interior Architecture

Small Project Architecture

Willow House

Willow House by AQA Alessandro Quadrelli Architetto.

 

University Of Otago Business School

University of Otago Business School by Mason & Wales Architects.

 

Te Kano Estate Tasting Room

Te Kano Estate Tasting Room by Mason & Wales Architects.

 

Olympus Digital Camera

Wanaka Watersports Facility by Alistair Madill Architects.

 

St Marks Lane

St Marks Lane by Dorrington Atcheson Architects.

 

Scott House Mt Barker

Scott House Mt Barker by Assembly Architects.

 

Ruby Ridge House

Ruby Ridge House by Condon Scott Architects.

 

Oliver's Ridge

Oliver's Ridge by Team Green Architects.

 

Lot 24 Bendemeer

Lot 24 Bendemeer by Warren and Mahoney Architects.

 

*digital Process : Kahn@pixsolution.co.nz

Long Grass House by Rafe Maclean Architects.

*digital Process : Kahn@pixsolution.co.nz

Lake View House by Parsonson Architect.

Olympus Digital Camera

Lake Hayes Cottage by Anna-Marie Chin Architects.

Lake Hawea House

Lake Hawea House by Condon Scott Architects.

Koura Apartments 2

Koura Apartments by Johnston Architects.

Cliff House

Cliff House by Mason & Wales Architects.

 

*digital Process : Kahn@pixsolution.co.nz

Lot 24 Bendemeer by Warren and Mahoney Architects.

*digital Process : Kahn@pixsolution.co.nz

Arrowtown Houses by Hofmans Architects.

Aosta

Aosta by Anna-Marie Chin Architects.

Worksafe Office Fitout

WorkSafe Office Fitout by Parker Warburton Team Architects

When an RSA and a bowling club teamed up with an award-winning architect, a few brews and laughs were guaranteed to spill over. Words Shelley Robinson

There are a few things guaranteed to prevail at an RSA and bowling club: beer, banter and a barrel full of advice.

And as a rather odd-looking building went up on the tail-end of the New Brighton RSA and Bowling Club, there was plenty to be said over beers.

New Brighton RSA secretary Garry House chuckles and rubs his chin as he remembers some of the comments
from members.

“Not all of them were positive,” he says.

Bull O’Sullivan Architecture director and architect Michael O’Sullivan puts it a bit more succinctly.

“[It’s] the problem with guys who have a lot of time of their hands, who have spent careers as carpenters, carpet layers, plumbers and whatnot – everyone is a ferocious expert in the field,” he laughs.

Your sides will ache after half an hour with this duo.

Their partnership began in 2017, when Garry was looking for an architect for a very special project. The RSA’s New Brighton Road building was decimated in the February 22, 2011 earthquake, prompting the RSA to combine with the New Brighton Bowling Club. Part of the deal was for a games room to be built at the 21 Mafeking Street club. Garry, as caretaker of the precious, hard-fought-for insurance funds, was after the best architect he could find. So, he headed out to Lyttelton to recruit Michael in person.

He found Michael welding up a drawing board at his new, soon-to-be award-winning, architecture studio. Michael remembers the day well.

“In walked this guy that was on fire, fizzing with energy.

I didn’t know anyone in Canterbury and in walks this guy, this magic man. He was the first guy to walk in the door and go, ‘Would you like to draw up something for us?’

Img 4847

RSA secretary Garry House and architect Michael O’Sullivan shared more than a few laughs on the project. PHOTO: CHARLIE ROSE CREATIVE

And I was almost in tears with satisfaction,” he says.

The games room wasn’t Michael’s typical sort of project. In spite of the payout, there wasn’t a lot of money to  throw around.

“They had bugger all. We basically scrimped and extorted people we knew to help get the project across the line.

“Most of these guys [at the club] are retired and rely on the pension to buy their beer. You know? That’s the reality. But I was really taken by these guys.”

So, Michael set to work. He wanted to design something worthy of those he had met.

“It was basically building a cave for these men and women to go into and play billiards. Gone are the days of the smoke-filled rooms of Boston, Lower Manhattan and Detroit where billiards was where you concurrently organised some illegal activity and played billiards. But that’s not to say you can’t compress a space and make it intimate without the smoke and the maniacal nonsense.”

To save more money, he admits he did things most architects wouldn’t do.

Img 4739

Michael designed and constructed the overhead lighting. PHOTO: CHARLIE ROSE CREATIVE

“We project managed it. It is a really dangerous thing to do as an architect because you take on a lot of liability. But it was the only way they could’ve afforded to do it. We were begging and asking for favours from everyone.”

Michael also built the suspended steel frame for the lights above the billiards table. Had they bought it, he estimates it would have cost $18,000. It cost Michael roughly $300. He also built the stunning ocular window.

“Most conservative people would go, ‘Architects can’t possibly make lights, we’ll buy them instead.’ But, of course you can,” he says.

And slowly, as the cave’s construction continued, camaraderie built up between those involved in the project.

“They are bloody hilarious,” Michael says of the members.

***

Down the end of a dead-end street in New Brighton, the combined club sits. The seagulls break the silence on what is a peaceful street. Cracked footpaths and tired car parks line the way to the club’s front gate, past humble homes where people give a friendly wave while easing their backs from work in the garden. In polite words, signs on the club’s white corrugated fence tell vandals to go elsewhere.

A hand through the gate unlatches the entrance and the greens are revealed.

A man gently encourages a bowl as it rolls down the green, but, before long, the bowl is getting a good telling off. Another bowler clucks behind his teeth and shakes his head slightly, while he studies the situation with arms folded. Down the back is a clubroom typical of most New Zealand small clubs, with a concrete white exterior. But there, snug as a bug in the corner, is the games room, a radical departure from the rest of the building.

New Brighton Rsa 2 Of 9Garry is easy to find; everyone seems to know him. A tall man wearing a badge and an easy smile, he’s waiting in the small bar area where a few gather for a late-afternoon brew.

It was done on purpose, explains Garry, referring to the distinct differences between the two buildings. Though, he chuckles, it was cause for alarm from some club members.

“But, as we explained, to match it to the existing building would be quite difficult because it would always look like an add-on. So, what you do is you make it radically different so it contrasts the other design,” he says.

Perhaps he is trying to diplomatically suggest that the white concrete building design is something best consigned to the past.

Garry switches on the light, turns and grins at the reaction.

Immediately the sound changes, as does the mood. It is like being surrounded by the clubhouse you dreamed about with your friends as a child, while you were crammed in a treehouse you hobbled together out of sticks and sheets.

When Garry first saw the model Michael constructed to convince the club’s committee of his design, he was awestruck.

“I thought, ‘Crumbs, this is different. Boy, this is a lot of work because all the timber in the roof is so complicated and circled, a real craftsman-like job.’ Just beautiful,” he says.

He is referring to the stunning curved interior, which is seamlessly lined with recycled rimu. It creates a wondrous feeling of a home away from home. There was a practical aspect to the design though.

“Michael did it like that because he was trying to keep the shadow of the building off the neighbours. It looks quite different, doesn’t it?” says Garry, as he turns to survey it with a beaming smile.

The room has a kind of ethereal feeling courtesy of the ocular window that overlooks the men playing on the green. Into what should be a darkened cave-like room comes the beautiful hazy light of the sunset. Of course, that is not an accident, but more inspired thinking by Michael – which he elaborated on later when we chatted.

“When the sun sets, which is predominately when most people are inside that space, there was an opportunity to pull a little bit of the sun setting into that cave in a primeval manner,” Michael explained.

The thought is in the details. Michael had the foresight to craft a recessed shelf for elbows to be rested and beers safely stowed in between shots.

“People cry over spilt drinks at that age, don’t they?” Garry grins.

RSA president Bill Lochrie wanders in. He is one of the committee members who approved the concept – though he is quick to say Garry did all the hard work.
“It would have sent me mad. He was gallivanting all around the countryside, dealing with the council. No wonder he’s lost all his hair,” he grins. Garry grins back, rubbing his head.

Bill waves his hand around the room: “If you can’t be impressed with this place, well, what the hell can you be impressed with?”

New Brighton Rsa 7 Of 9

The stunning ocular window where members can watch bowls and the sunset. PHOTO: BULL OSULLIVAN ARCHITECTURE

After 18 months, the billiards room opened last year and continues to impress. It promptly won the Small Project Architecture category at the 2019 Canterbury Architecture Awards.

Michael later acknowledged that the award helped to win over any doubters. “When the jury deemed it worthy of an award, everyone that grumbled and everyone that needed that half-time cuddle during the construction process all of a sudden went, ‘Oh my gosh, this is fantastic!’” he chuckled.

The sun has just about set. There are a few more in the bar. Garry is getting ready for a committee meeting. Michael is popping down for a drink later too.

As Garry offers a drink before departure he says: “You should bring your friends, the more the merrier. Anytime.

Tell anyone, we love for people to pop down, they just have to sign in.”

He pauses and looks around him.

“Some of these guys are widows. It is a place where they can come down, have a drink and play a game. It is better than sitting at home alone by themselves. That’s why this room is important,” he says.

Bill is sitting at a table with some friends. He glances up and grins.

“You off then? Thanks for coming down.”

A woman, with a kind of smile that envelops you in a hug, raises her hand in farewell. “You have yourself a lovely day, alright love?”

Others join the chorus.

It’s a club well worth belonging to, not just for its award-winning architecture.

*This article is from Style's February edition

Nurturing Dunedin’s fashion industry are five well-known designers. Meet the godmothers of iD Fashion. 

 It feels like rather unfortunate timing to call Dr Margo Barton. The iD Dunedin Fashion co-chair is busy collating a list of results from judges to whittle down the finalists for the International Emerging Designer Awards in her office at Otago Polytechnic.  

But Margo brushes off the concern in a gentle manner that seems to immediately envelope you in warmth.  

“Oh gosh, no, don’t worry,” she says, gently chortling down the line. 

With a long history of nurturing young designers in her role at the polytechnic and at iD Fashion, it feels that she, too, could have been named as one of the ‘godmothers’ of iD, though she is quick to deflect such a suggestion. 

The godmothers are iconic designers who continue to nurture Dunedin’s fashion industry. They are: Margi (Margarita) Robertson of NOM*d, Tanya Carlson of Carlson, Donna Tulloch of Mild Red, Charmaine Reveley of Charmaine Reveley and Sara Munro of Company of Strangers.  

The concept emerged while Margo was working on the Fashion Forward > Disruption Through Design exhibition, which is scheduled to be shown at Otago Museum next year. 

Corp Staff Margobarton 003 Crop

Dr Margo Barton helped put together the exhibition to be shown at Otago Museum next year. PHOTO: Supplied

Included in the display will be an iconic garment selected by each designer. 

The ‘godmother’ name was only meant to be a placeholder, but it quickly stuck, says Margo. 

Not only are the godmothers generous with their time, but their accessibility to students and other designers ensures Dunedin’s fashion industry thrives, she says. 

“Nom*d, Mild Red and Carlson most definitely, in my mind, are so important to the Dunedin fashion scene. And it is like Charmaine and Sarah are our god-mothers-in-waiting. It’s like they mentor each other through, and it is so lovely to see,” she says.  

And will the godmothers be wearing matching taffeta-like outfits at the opening of the exhibition next year?  

“Oh, I think that’s a great idea, we’ll have to do that,” laughs Margo down the line.  

Oh dear. 

* * *

Godmother Tanya Carlson is navigating Piha Road, when she answers the phone. It seems like awful timing, once again. But it’s actually perfect, she says. 

“It’s because I’m in the car and I don’t have 50 people – no actually I don’t have 50 people – but you know, I can focus,” she calls down the line while car static beams through.  

She is straight-talking, knowledgeable and only uses the odd swear word, none of which are offensive as she is so entertaining with it all. In short, a wonderful godmother indeed. Exactly what you’d expect from a child of the ’70s who grew up on the Otago Peninsula, surfs and has survived 22 years in the industry. 

“It [The industry] takes no prisoners and spits out a lot of people on the way. I think if you have an obsession about fashion and are not worried about money, you’ll get there. I was out surfing last night and that’s my thing, because some days it is like, ‘Wow, what are we doing?’ ” 

Tanya Carlson Head Shot Oct16 Cropped

Tanya Carlson gives back to the fashion industry by nurturing young designers. PHOTO: Supplied

She is a long-standing iD Fashion board member and adjudicator on the judging panel for the emerging designer awards. She was also one of the founding designers of iD Fashion. 

It was when Tanya returned from Australia in her early-20s that she came across her own fashion godmother – a name synonymous with Dunedin fashion; Diane Waugh of Waughs.   

“She was extraordinary. She had lived all over the world and she was really great at introducing me to New Zealand labels and designers. It was the connection with someone who spoke my language. I could speak to her a couple of times a day if I needed to,” she says. 

“She had amazing books; I was able to constantly troll her books like [The Andy] Warhol Diaries,” she says.  

And because Tanya knows what it is like to be a young designer, she gives back as much as she can.  

“I know how hard it is; it’s a tough business. I feel like it is my part of supporting Dunedin and giving back to the industry,” she says. 

*This article was written before the Convid-19 lockdown

The Outfits

Next year, Otago Museum’s Fashion Forward >> Disruption Through Design will showcase the quintessential work of Dunedin’s fashion grandmothers. Here are the iconic outfits selected by the designers. Words and photos courtesy of Otago Museum. 

Margi Robertson, NOM*d 

Nomd Promo

The look represents NOM*d in timeless fashion. Masculinity is merged with femininity. The uniform is always present. Traditional but re-invented. T-shirts are forever and genderless. 

The jacket, created in 2002, represented our venture into sustainability, at a time when it might not even have been a genre. We collected men’s dinner jackets, unpicked them down the centre back and joined two mismatched ones together, then feminised them by adorning them with pretty jet-like buttons. 

The kilt references uniform and a gentle nod to the Scottish heritage of Dunedin, but presented in black – very NOM*d.  

And, of course, the stencilled T-shirt – iconic and part of the NOM*d look since 2001. 

 

Tanya Carlson, Carlson 

Carlson Promo

The Piwakawaka (Fantail) dress was created for the hero image for iD Dunedin Fashion Week 2016. We wanted to capture the Gothic essence of Dunedin; its greyness, its beauty, and I think it does that. It’s a romantic view and brings together my memories of growing up on the Otago Peninsula and references a history of Gothic literature and architecture.  

I wanted to play with gender in the piece too, by using a traditionally male fabric and colour and creating something empowering and truly feminine in its shape.  

The pleating in the piece works with the wind and the movement that is created is incredible. I think it’s a strong piece and it was fantastic to see it chosen by our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to wear to last year’s Vodafone Music Awards. 

Sara Munro, Company of Strangers 

Company Of Strangers Promo

Our look for this exhibition captured our holistic view of Company of Strangers’ collaborative design process. It has a combination of my all-time favourite pieces made with friends – they each bring a different viewpoint to design. 

Anne-Mieke Ytsma made a show necklace for us for the New Zealand Fashion Week show in 2014. My collaboration with her was the first and is still ongoing to this day. We co-design our jewellery together and then it is made in Dunedin. 

Harley Jones drew graffiti on our flouro leather goods for the Pop Collection in 2013. We went on to design a textile print together for the next season and this design has been incorporated into our store packaging. 

This outfit really brings out what I love about Dunedin – the ability to meet and work with friends in an organic and vibrant way. 

Donna Tulloch, Mild Red 

Mild Red Promo

Design to me is a very personal thing. Inspiration for my designs and collections derives from personal interests, experiences and relationships. This outfit is for my family, my father. 

My father was a shearer and musterer and this outfit is a celebration of his dedication to being precise and hardworking; values installed in me. Nothing comes easy. If you want it, you work hard for it. It is old-school ethics. 

This black wool dress is made from layers of hard work; singlets of life. Upside-down half singlets, elongated singlets and a backpack of yarn. It represents both wool and the stories or ‘yarns’ about days gone by. Desires, dreams and hard realities. The backpack of life. 

Charmaine Reveley, Charmaine Reveley 

Charmaine Reveley Promo

This is one of our current season frocks. It’s simple, classic and effortlessly cool and my favourite dress to wear right now. I think I follow somewhat more of an untraditional Dunedin aesthetic – I love uncomplicated, less layered, more simplistic design. 

Justine Tyerman sees the light at Machu Picchu.

It was such a simple gesture but one I'll always treasure. A Chilean lady was gazing at the sun with a look of wonder and astonishment on her face. She was wearing 3-D sunglasses and her expression suggested she had just glimpsed the gates of heaven. As I passed by, she held out the sunglasses to me and pointed at the sun. I put them on, turned towards the sun and gasped.

A solar eclipse was under way ... at Machu Picchu ... at the Temple of the Sun.

The Chilean lady and her husband had come all the way from Santiago to Peru, armed with special glasses to witness the eclipse at the legendary "City of the Incas'' - but I just happened to be there on the right day at the right time standing beside a lady with 3-D glasses. The sight of the sun obscured by a black sickle-shaped shadow was spine-tingling.

It was one of many moments of utter disbelief for me that afternoon as I followed our guide around the vast Inca citadel, incredulous that, after years of yearning, I was actually there. Had it not been for photographic evidence, I might still believe the entire experience to be a fantasy.

Mist adds to the mystique of the ancient Inca citadel at Machu Picchu. PHOTOS: PROMPERU

Mist adds to the mystique of the ancient Inca citadel at Machu Picchu. PHOTOS: PROMPERU

The day began early at Poroy train station in Cusco where we boarded Great Train Journey's Belmond Hiram Bingham for the three-hour, 20-minute journey to Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu. The trip on the luxury train through the Sacred Valley of the Incas added to the magic. The Champagne, lavish lunch and entertainment helped too!

After 112km, the train reached its final destination at Aguas Calientes, where a coach was waiting to take us up the narrow, zigzag road to the citadel.

When I dared to look down, I could see the railway track running alongside the Urubamba River and the mountains rising perpendicularly from the valley floor, their heads in the mist.

My pulse was racing by the time we reached the entrance to the historical site. The stars and, as it turned out, the sun were well-aligned for a perfect day. The winter sky was cloudless, the temperatures mild, I'd adjusted to the high altitude, the crowds were manageable thanks to a new system of limiting the number of people allowed on the site at any given time and I was well-prepared for the experience of a lifetime, having done some reading in advance.

Large gatherings may have taken place in this open space.

Large gatherings may have taken place in this open space.

To begin with, we climbed steps and pathways for 20-30 minutes to gain an elevated perspective of the entire site, and grasp the impact that first glimpse would have on hikers as they came over the ridge after four days on the Camino Inca.

From above, you see the full extent of Machu Picchu and surrounding terrain. It's a spectacular, heart-stopping sight. I had a sense of disbelief that this genius of Inca architecture and engineering, one of the most famous archaeological sites on the planet, lay literally at my feet.

The Incas built the citadel in the 15th century (1450 to 1460) on the most improbable of sites - a long narrow ridge between the mountains of Machu Picchu and the rhinoceros horn-shaped Wayna Picchu (also known as Huayna Picchu), 2430m above the valley floor.

On three sides of the ridge there are sheer drops to the valley floor below, where the Urubamba River coils around the foot of the mountains like a snake.

At the southern end of the city, the Incas cut giant steps into the mountainside to allow the planting and cultivation of crops such as quinoa, maize and potatoes. These broad terraces (andenerias) supported by sturdy stone walls also stabilised the steep hillsides and facilitated drainage. They are now home to llamas which roam freely around the ruins, much to the delight of visitors.

Evidence of the astonishing skill of the Inca stonemasons is visible everywhere at Machu Picchu.

Evidence of the astonishing skill of the Inca stonemasons is visible everywhere at Machu Picchu.

The city itself is divided into zones with around 140 buildings and more than 100 flights of stone steps - the Sacred District, where many important temples are located; the District of Priests and Nobility, where dwellings of superior architecture, stonework and size are found; and the Popular District, where those who served the nobles and priests lived in more modest homes.

The various levels are connected by flights of stone stairs still in excellent condition after centuries.

For the next few hours we explored the temples, plazas, dwellings and terraces of the citadel, walking the ancient pathways and steps the Incas once trod.

A keen reader of information boards, at first I found it odd there was little signage apart from arrows pointing us in the right direction. It certainly made for a less cluttered site but unless you have a guide and have done some research, Machu Picchu can be quite bewildering. I had the benefit of both but the experience still stretched my imagination to its limits.

The houses are set apart by the style of architecture. The Casa Del Inka, the Inca king's dwelling, is a masterpiece of stonemasonry. The rocks are meticulously carved, polished smooth and fitted so tightly together you can't slide a sheet of paper between them. The walls, like most Inca structures, tilt inwards to stabilise them against all-too-frequent earthquakes.

The king had a garden, a private bath and even his own toilet - the only private facility on the site.

Some fit visitors to Machu Picchu climb steep steps to the top of Wayna Picchu, also known as...

I traced the flawless joins in the rock with my fingers, wondering what secrets they could reveal about Inca life. If rocks could talk ...

The homes of commoners also had impressive stonework but the workmanship was not quite so perfect.

The semicircular Temple of the Sun, next to the king's house, is one of the most important structures at Machu Picchu. Inti, the sun god, was the chief deity of the Inca. The interior of the temple is a small space that only priests and nobles were permitted to enter. At the centre there's a rock which probably served as an altar. The windows of the temple are perfectly aligned to the summer and winter solstices. It was near here we met the lovely Chilean lady and observed the solar eclipse.

Beneath the temple, there's a little natural cave that possibly served as a royal mausoleum but its true purpose remains a topic of conjecture, like many of the structures at Machu Picchu.

One of the most sacred places at Machu Picchu is Intihuatana, known as ''the Hitching Post of the Sun'', a stone the Inca believed helped to hold the sun in place and keep it on its correct path. It was most likely used for astronomical observations.

The Main or Principal Temple, so named due to its large size and prominent location on the Sacred Plaza, is where archaeologists believe large ceremonies would have taken place. Nearby, the Temple of the Three Windows overlooks the mountains with windows aligned to the sunrise.

At the far end of Machu Picchu lies the Sacred Stone, a massive hunk of granite near the foot of Wayna Picchu. The stone is the same shape as the mountain behind it and was possibly a place of mountain worship.

The Incas constructed extensive terracing to stablise the steep hillsides and allow the...

The Incas constructed extensive terracing to stablise the steep hillsides and allow the cultivation of crops.

The complex was well supplied with water sources, which the Inca directed via a series of channels for human and agriculture uses. The whole city is crisscrossed with an ingenious underground drainage system that still works today to funnel away rain water during heavy downpours. An astonishing feat.

After the city was abandoned in the 16th century (around 1572) for reasons unknown, the Andean jungle gradually reclaimed the land and the site remained hidden from the world for the next 400 years.

The Spaniards never found Machu Picchu, so the structure remained remarkably intact until an American historian and explorer by the name of Hiram Bingham III rediscovered the ancient site in 1911.

Bingham and his policeman-interpreter, searching for treasure rumoured to have been hidden from the Spanish conquerors by the Inca Manco Capac II, chanced upon a local farmer named Melchor Arteaga, who described extensive ruins at "Old Mountain'', or Machu Picchu in the Quechua language.

On the morning of July 24, 1911, the party climbed up the steep mountainside in the rain and found a hut occupied by peasants who were growing crops there. A small boy was deputised to show Bingham around.

In his book, Lost City of the Incas, published in 1948, Bingham describes a scene that "took his breath away''.

"An unexpected sight, a great flight of beautifully constructed stone terraces, perhaps a hundred of them, each hundreds of feet long and 10 feet high ... suddenly I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality of Inca stonework.'' The ruins were overgrown by trees and vines and moss but the white granite walls were "carefully cut and exquisitely fitted together'' ... the scene "fairly took my breath away''.

Fine dining on the Belmond Hiram Bingham on the way to Machu Picchu.

Fine dining on the Belmond Hiram Bingham on the way to Machu Picchu.

Bingham mistakenly believed he had discovered Vilcabamba, the "Lost City of the Incas'', the last refuge of the Inca Empire before it fell to the Spanish conquerors in 1572.

It was not Vilcabamba but the ruins he stumbled upon that day became one of the most important archaeological sites on the planet, one of the Great (New) Wonders of the World and a Unesco World Heritage treasure.

Over the decades, many theories have been posited as to the role played by Machu Picchu.

Archaeologists now believe the complex to have been the mountain retreat of the great Inca emperor Pachacutec and his nobles, priests and servants. Known as "He who Shakes the Earth'', Pachacutec lived from 1438 to 1471.

Scholars also agree that Machu Picchu was a sacred place where the Incas worshipped their gods and observed the cosmos, the weather and astronomical phenomena. The Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana are among structures dedicated to Inti, the sun god. The architecture there is perfectly aligned with the position of the sun and stars throughout the year.

The discovery of 170 skeletons at Machu Picchu, of which 150 were female, gave rise to the theory that it was a place where young virgins were consecrated to Inti and chosen to serve the Incas.

Also unclear is the reason the Incas abandoned Machu Picchu in the 16th century - the Spaniards never found it, so one theory is that the city may have been struck by an epidemic such as smallpox that killed much of the population, forcing others to flee. Or that the Inca Civil War waged between the brothers Huascar and Atahualpa from 1527-32 may have undermined the supply of food to the city.

The truth may never be known.

The colourful markets at Aguas Calientes where we disembarked near the foot of Machu Picchu...

The colourful markets at Aguas Calientes where we disembarked near the foot of Machu Picchu mountain.

After four or five hours at the site, I had more questions than answers but for me the mystery added to the mystique and allure of Machu Picchu. In a world obsessed with knowing and understanding all things, there is nothing more intriguing than an unsolved puzzle.

Some believe Machu Picchu embodies spiritual or metaphysical powers. There is certainly an undefinable aura about the place that awakens a heightened sense of awareness and inspires philosophical thoughts about time and space, astrology, the cosmos.

I wanted to stand still and absorb the energy, the genius, the magnetism and the inherent spirituality of the place. And also grasp the reality of how it was to create those magnificent structures and to live there. I tried to envisage the city alive with people 500 years ago, craftsmen manoeuvring and shaping the massive rocks, priests worshipping at the Temple of the Sun and large gatherings at the Sacred Plaza. My 21st-century brain could not comprehend how such a city could have been built without the aid of metal tools or the wheel. I can understand how some believed it was the work of supernatural forces.

As Bingham said: "In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, I know of no place in the world which can compare with it.''

I could have spent days exploring Machu Picchu but there are time limits on the admission tickets, a necessary measure to cope with the vast numbers who visit the site. It's just as well. I might still be there.

As I closed my eyes that night, images of the day were on constant replay inside my head.

An ancient stone city built on the most absurdly inaccessible of sites surrounded by precipices and encircled by dark green mountains rising abruptly from the valley floor, the wise old face of Wayna Picchu, all-knowing, all-seeing, an enigma shrouded in mist and mystery. I also thought of the kind Chilean lady who enabled me to witness a solar eclipse ... in the presence of Inti, the Inca sun god.

If you go

* Justine Tyerman travelled to Machu Picchu with Great Train Journeys on the Belmond Hiram Bingham launched in 2003 to transport passengers from Cusco to Machu Picchu in style and luxury. Gourmet cuisine, fine wines and superb service are a feature of this exceptional journey.

Great Train Journeys is one of Rail Europe’s portfolio of luxury rail experiences around the world. Rail Europe is the world’s leading and most trusted distributor of rail tickets, passes and scenic rail journeys. Call Auckland 09 377 5420 for more information.

* Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll in 2007.

* Accommodation in Cusco was at the Belmond Monasterio Hotel a former 16th century monastery and a protected national monument.

* The writer flew to Peru courtesy of LATAM Airlines. LATAM Airlines is the leading carrier to and from South America with the largest network and connectivity throughout the region. LATAM operates four flights a week from Auckland to Santiago, Chile, the gateway to South America with onward connections to 124 destinations in South America. For more information or to make a booking call LATAM reservations on 0800 700 647, visit your local travel agent or www.latam.com

For some people, work is their happy place.

The Shark Pilot

Leaping and diving under Lake Wakatipu is not your typical day job, so it is no surprise Ruaidhri De Faoite has a hard time convincing people he is, in fact, a shark pilot.

When I say I am a ‘shark pilot’, it gets a few raised eyebrows for sure. It’s not a bad gig to have. I’ve written it down on the customs form when coming into New Zealand a few times, which is a bit of fun.

Most of my friends are lawyers and accountants and things like that – being a shark pilot is at a pretty different end of the spectrum.

I’ve mainly worked on sailing yachts, but when I came to Queenstown there weren’t too many opportunities in sailing. I always thought, before I started working here, that motorboats were the dark side, but now that I’ve turned to the dark side I’m not sure I’ll be going back anytime soon. Hook, line and sinker on that one.

Ruaidhri With Passenger Leopard Shark 2
Ruaidhri With Passenger - Leopard Shark

I got into it because I had a friend who was a shark pilot before me at Hydro Attack. They got a job here and one of the owners is Irish too, so it gave me a good foot in the door. Then I just didn’t leave them alone until they gave me a job.

When one of the owners, Dave, first took me underwater and we were cruising along, doing side rolls, I was like a fish out of water. It was just so different from everything else I had done.

We’ve had a couple of good reactions over the years, especially the ones where people don’t realise that the sharks go underwater!

We often have parents who are pressured into it by their kids. They are here for a wine tour and then they’re dragged out to do this crazy shark thing. Mums, in particular, come across pretty well on the video and the photos, testing out their tonsils screaming as loud as they can!

Ruaidhri With Passenger Leopard Shark 1
Ruaidhri With Passenger

The trips we enjoy most are where the passenger loses it and you just hear them freaking out. It is definitely where we get our enjoyment, but we do have to wear earplugs – we couldn’t be putting up with that all day!

You’ll often hear kids walking past going ‘Look, it’s a dolphin… or a shark’ and the parents are like, ‘Shut up, there are no dolphins or sharks in the lake.’ And then they see it launch up in the air! It’s pretty crack-up.

Shark pilots have to train for 100 hours. It takes 50–60 to get comfortable and get the dives under the water and the jumps going well. On top of that, there is all the safety aspects of the job. If something was to hit the fan, we train so we are on top of our game.

We have nine pilots – the single shark pilots are flat out on Instagram, they love it!

Ruaidhri Driving Leopard Shark 1
Ruaidhri Driving Leopard Shark

I’ve always said to the owners here that when it comes time to move on to another job, having ‘shark pilot’ on my CV should get me in the door
– because they’ll want to know what that means!

As told to Shelley Robinson

The Multi-Tasker

Hannah Watkinson’s friends call her a ‘multi-potentialite’. If working on four different projects and two boards wasn’t enough, the Christchurch creative has just added another challenge to her list.

It does get awkward when someone asks, ‘Well, what do you do?’ One of the words my friends use to describe what I do is ‘multi-potentialite’ (not that I like it!).

This morning I have been overlaying a map of the city’s water services with a disc golf course and the potential for putting an adoptable dog café and bar in the red zone. That is for my work with Life in Vacant Spaces, a Christchurch charity that pairs landowners with creatives. I am contracted to curate nine hectares in the red zone they have the licence to. I also do four hours a week at Three Boys Brewery doing business development, and I’m also a contract curator for a project called Art and Architecture, working with private developers to bring local artists into their developments. I also own Salt Lane Studios, a base for 20 creatives who would otherwise work from their garage, kitchen table or spare room. I love, the most, that no two days are the same.

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Hannah Watkinson inside Salt Lane Studios in Christchurch. Photo: Charlie Rose Creative

My background was in starting pop-up galleries to give people a space to show work, because I was concerned, post-quake, that young or emerging artists didn’t have things that would make them want to stay here.

We’ve been here (Salt Lane Studios) for almost a year now. I’ve learnt a lot in terms of owning a big old warehouse that leaks! I joke and say I’ve found a way to get my friends to pay to hang out with me. I love working here and I hope that people think of me as their friend rather than their landlord.

I do get itchy feet if I don’t feel like I am working on something new or exciting. It is like your project brain stretches and then when you finish it doesn’t stretch back straight away, so you’ve got space to think about stuff.

This year, I’m going back to Canterbury University to complete my Master’s of Fine Arts degree. I sat down and worked out, in the past five years, in the six different spaces I’ve operated for creatives, I’ve supported 80 different artists. I guess I thought maybe it was time to do that for myself. It feels awkward because I feel selfish that I am doing this just for myself - I’m not really good at that. But I want to finish a long-term project on the extraction industries of the West Coast.

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I think, when you are self-employed, you’ve got to work out the values you want to get out of it. For some people, it is to make more money. For me, it is so I have more flexibility in my life. So, I didn’t really get out of bed until 8am today and I hung out with my dog Maisie instead.

There are certain struggles that come with getting caught up in the identity of the work you do. One of the best things someone told me recently is that the success or failure of your current contract is nothing to do with your worth.

As told to Shelley Robinson

The Penguinologist

Dr Hiltrun Ratz works on the Otago Peninsula watching the soap opera that is the Pukekura little blue penguin colony unfold. Full of divorces, recoupling and swearing, she has a busy job with her two-legged friends.

I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I think I’ll be hobbling around the little blue penguin colony with my Zimmer frame saying to my colleagues, ‘Oi! Go weigh that one!’ I love it.

I live about 10 minutes from work at Pilots Beach on the Otago Peninsula. I’m a penguin scientist employed by The Pukekura Trust, a collaboration between The Otago Peninsula Trust and The Korako Karetai Trust.

In 2016, they were looking for someone to work with the little blue penguins. I was standing in the colony and asked, ‘Any idea how many penguins there are?’ The reply was, ‘Oh about 500.’ I thought, well that will take me a week or two – yeah right. It took me two and a half years to get pretty much all of them. Then I was told there were nesting boxes. I said, ‘Oh good, where?’ and they said, ‘Don’t know, somewhere here. We put numbers on some of them.’ It turned into a treasure hunt. The boxes were either nailed or screwed shut, so I would have to pry them open, see if there were penguins in there, microchip them and then find another box.

Kaitiaki Tautoko (2)

Blue penguins are little parcels of fury really. They are offended when I have to take them out of their box. They are very good at biting because they have sharp edges to their beaks, and they know they have this weapon in the middle of their face. They also scratch, growl and swear at you. The adults are little fury bundles, the chicks aren’t so bad because they haven’t worked out that their beak is a formidable weapon. Fortunately, I’ll only have to bother them once in their life to microchip them.

Before the start of the breeding season, the female and male sit at home in their box and she says to him, ‘Honey am I fat enough?’ If there is a nice cold ocean, lots of fish and the female is getting nice and fat, they’ll start breeding. And, of course, she is the one that decides because she lays the eggs. She may say, ‘Nah, I’m not fat enough, forget about it.’ But she’ll ask again the next month.

They usually stick with the same mate, but if the mate disappears or goes off with someone else, she’ll just find someone else. The divorce rate is about 18 per cent and sometimes they even swap partners between clutches! Shortland Street and Coronation Street is nothing compared to what goes on in this little blue penguin colony. It is the best soap you can imagine. ‘Excuse me, this is not your mate from last season, what have you done with him!’ I say to them.

I talk to them often. They tend to talk back, though we don’t speak the same language and I think they swear at me a lot, but that’s okay.

Kaitiaki Tautoko (21)
Hiltrun Ratz (left) works on the Otago Peninsula with little blue penguins. Photo: Blue Penguins Pukekura

I grew fascinated with biology when I was 14. I had an amazing biology teacher in high school. Some teachers give you direction in your life by doing nothing more than just doing their job.

I just have a sense of wonder in the natural world. I’m sitting here and looking at all these trees and nothing is telling them to grow, and yet they grow. They do it despite everything – it is a miracle. We are surrounded by miracles and we are just taking it for granted. Animals are so resilient and just want to live. It is that spirit of life that I find fascinating.

As told to Shelley Robinson

Words Juliet Speedy

Talking to Jane Daniels makes you want to immediately jump on a plane to go on a round-the-world trip. The Britain-born fashion designer has a distinct passion for the world and its beauty and you can see this clearly in her collections. It is travel that helps define her and the fashion label she created back in 1986.

Jane Daniels

Jane travelled back to London at 20 years old to study design, pattern making and tailoring and now travels extensively every year. There’s no question that Jane’s designs are hand-curated depictions of the places she goes. “Anything can inspire me. A detail on a building, a costume in a museum, a colour combination in a painting.” She moves about the world inhaling the sights, smells and colours all around. “Like in Egypt, the indigo water against the chartreuse reeds on the Nile.” Add to this the lapis, turquois and carnelian stones in Tutankhamen’s jewellery and she has herself an exciting collection.

Jane says her philosophy is to design ‘want-to-have’ rather than ‘need-to-have’ garments. Every one of her collections is a careful curation of contemporary, versatile, easy-to-wear pieces that range from casual to corporate to cocktail. Her starting point for all her ranges is the creation of her own colour palette. She then has her European fabrics bespoke-dyed in Europe. Her designs, she says, have a backbone of good tailoring with elegant simple lines. “I like to incorporate innovative and unusual detailing, bending the rules somewhat for the more imaginative pieces.”

The Auckland-based designer has become well known for always using high-quality fabrics. She heads to the Paris textile fair twice a year to get the latest prints, textures and technical fabrics, most often from Italy. Because of the seasonal differences she can have them in store in New Zealand before Europe and America. Her travels have taken her to Europe mostly for her fashion inspiration but more recently to more exotic destinations as brand ambassador for the Christchurch-based Innovative Travel Company. She’s been to Egypt, Iran, India, Oman, Morocco and Sri Lanka. It’s this exposure to new places, new cultures and new colours that inspires her ideas.

One of her favourite destinations for work has been the Silk Roads in Uzbekistan. “What will always remain with me is being surrounded by walls of intricate tiles of brilliant blue, turquoise and saffron in the Shah-i-Zinda (sacred street) in Samarkand.” She also loved India for its vibrancy, Kyoto for is serenity and Inner Mongolia for its unique and natural landforms.

Her upcoming summer collection is inspired by the tropical island locations in the Caribbean, with fresh white linens and ice. “Cream pastels and a palette of strong tropical colours – red-orange, Galliano yellow, spring green, turquoise and hot pink linens.”

If Jane could choose any country in the world to live in, after New Zealand it would be Italy. She loves the food, the history recorded in the architecture and arts and the fascinating regionalism. “Every town in Italy seems to have a specialty in terms of food or an artisan tradition that has been maintained.” She’s made leather-bound books under a master bookbinder in Fabriano, a town famous for paper for over 1000 years.
“And furthermore, France is just across the border, I adore France and love its wine!”

She also loves Italian food. Once in Bologna she found a little restaurant, De Cesar, which opened in 1955. “I love their dish of ravioli pumpkin, butter and crispy sage.” But her favourite was a hole in the wall in Florence – Vini E Vecci Sapori. “A Mama-, Papa- and son-operation with the best zucchini flower pasta.” But, Jane says, a New Zealand pinot noir or an outdoor summer lunch with a dry rosé is rather unbeatable, too.

Jane sees the biggest challenge of the fashion industry as waste. This is compounded by the fixation of the world to share their lives online and having a visible status. “A narcissistic cult of celebrity-by-degree exists. Ultimately the result is an accelerating need that pressures the fashion industry to produce ‘the new’ more often.” Jane says this model is not sustainable for the planet. “Every few months a news story breaks about millions of dollars of new unsold clothing being incinerated or going into landfills to protect a brand.”

But the Jane Daniels label is proudly New Zealand made and has its own high standards. They pay fair wages and the construction costs are well governed by New Zealand labour laws and the company’s own ethical standards. “We know the people who make our garments and have good first-name friendships with our sewers and cutters.”
The same they can say for their clients. Jane says they’re fashion-forward and discerning and know that the high quality, mostly natural European fabrics and quality tailoring means they’re not inexpensive. “I think most importantly they are engaged, in that they tell me how much they enjoy the back story and travel/history research that I bring to my collections.” Two of her clients loved the brand so much that a few years ago, they joined the Jane Daniels team.

Jane loves the Japanese simple yet detailed aesthetic citing her favourite designer as Yohji Yamamoto. “His draping, asymmetrical cutting, origami folding and architectural detailing.” Early on she was influenced by the sleek, tailored looks of the Italian designers like Giorgio Armani and also Donna Karan. But she says now there’s a much greater demand for less rigid clothing and for fabrics that stretch and move with you. Her original collections were built around suiting as there was always a strong delineation between work attire and leisure. But that’s no longer the way. “There is an ever-increasing demand for trans-seasonal and travel-friendly clothing. This is how my collections have evolved.”

Never sitting still long, Jane is about to head off to Greece. One of her colleagues in the Christchurch store is getting married on Santorini and, much to Jane’s delight, has invited the boss. She’s going to head to Meteora to see the clifftop monasteries, to Athens and to some of the islands she’s researched. “I hope to do some painting and to gather some ideas for jewellery design.” She advises this for anyone travelling. Jane takes hundreds of photos but also travels with a pen, a watercolour notebook and a bijou paint box to record what she sees. “It makes you observe more closely and a just a few coloured marks on a page can be a fabulous souvenir of your trip.”

While her trips are all busy soaking up the sights, smells and sounds Jane also recommends a pool day every so often. “A chance to reflect on what you have done so far and perhaps edit your photos and write a few postcards.”

When Jane’s not designing garments or travelling the world, you’ll find her on the beach, or at home with their four cats reading a historical novel or a biography on a pioneering woman. She also loves to paint. “I love the looseness of what I would call happy accidents that watercolour can provide.”

Drawing inspiration from an ever-changing world ensures Jane Daniels, the person and the brand, stays very on trend.

While you wouldn’t want to assume that those who can design a perfectly fitted garment could fit out a living room with ease, there are many that can. Turns out, in case you weren’t watching, some of the biggest names in fashion, dabble, very well, in the world of home design.
Words Kate Preece

Even some of the biggest names in fashion are not replete with apparel alone. Neither are some small designers, to be fair. And I suppose it makes sense when you imagine what sort of brains are at work behind those catwalk look that stir up murmurs of complimentary architectural lines, perfectly mismatched materials and colour combinations worthy of much more than one statement alone. So, we went looking for a few of our own matching sets, discovering the 58th annual Milan Furniture Fair to be a great gauge on just how well these fashion names are doing in the homewares world.

Dior Maison

Christian Dior studied architecture. He never overlooked the connection between interiors and fashion, which itself prompted him to employ two decorators, Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy, to design his Parisian home and headquarters. From here the ‘New Look’ was revealed in 1947, as was a new type of fashion show (as ordained by then Vogue fashion editor Bettina Ballard).

Not to be confused with Maison Christian Dior – the luxury fragrance line with candles, soaps and a scarf line (for perfuming purposes) formerly known as La Collection Privee, displayed at the Maison Christian Dior apartment in the heart of Paris, Dior Maison relates to an in-house brand launched in 2016. The first collection saw 11 designers contribute such items as hand-embroidered linens, hand-blown glass carafes and Dior-printed playing cards, but this is not a brand likely to rest on its lapels.

At this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, Dior Maison joint forces with Dimore Studio, an Italian-American duo based in Milan and known for a particularly luxurious aesthetic. Sounds like a match made and heaven, and the resulting vases and candelabra, frames and umbrella stand are most worthy of their special order status and one year only in production.

Gucci Decor

You know this one. We’ve featured the creative flair that is the result this two-years-young fashion baby many a time. It perfectly highlights what happens when an Italian fashion house answers the question of how to add class and colour in one swish movement. It’s all about candles, cushions and chairs, with folding tables and even wallpaper to make your room oh-so fashionable. Go for the Tiger Face print wallpaper or folding table and you’ll be fierce day in and day out.

Versace Home

Another goodie. With absolutely nothing subtle about its approach to meal time, Versace invites Medusa into your house, emblazoned in gold across porcelain plates or else lets you go for baroque on your salt shaker. Never feel you need leave the Versace touch on the table however, as the range even extends to a kettle ball and set of dumbbells complete with that tell-tale Medusa head.

This year’s furniture show was the platform on which to debut the 2019 collection, which boasts Versace Home’s first outdoor items. Find a hanging bed, sun bed, lanterns, fire pit table, water-resistant chairs and a glass cube – ideal for resting one’s champagne glass on. It’s all about pop culture and mythology, which basically means you get in-your-face colours bound to create an anything-goes ambience.

Dolce & Gabbana x SMEG

What better way to ramp up style points in the kitchen than to bring in a touch of Dolce & Gabbana. For the fourth consecutive year, the fashion icon teamed up with SMEG to create unforgettable fridges – and more, for a vibrant display at the Milan Furniture Fair. What started with 100 hand-painted fridges has moved on to bring us kettles, juicers, blenders, coffee machines and toasters that ooze artisanal charm and are potently laced with pops of colour. Just look at the ‘Sicily in my Love’ range to understand how a splash of southern Italy, complete with Sicilian cart motifs, could radically change your kitchen vibe.

Armani/Casa

With a name that speaks proudly of sleek lines, sophistication and heady scents, Armani hasn’t shied away from turning its hands to interior design. For the past 19 years, Armani/Casa has been producing items for every room of the house, and it all started with a lamp Giorgio Armani designed in 1982.

From the Logo lamp came the first store in 2000, but four years on, it was time to add an interior design studio to satisfy clients who just couldn’t get enough of that Armani touch – one that is all about subtle luxury, achieved through meticulous detail, fine materials and nothing positioned without a purpose.

The new collection was revealed in Milan, where, once again, the brand’s Oriental influences were seen in motifs and patterns throughout textile, accessory and tableware items. Light blue, blue, red and pale gold formed the palette, with the design dialogue including clean, contemporary and exotic. Whether it’s a rug, the woven leather Onda chaise lounge or a set of playing cards (for a game of memory), if the bank balance allowed, we can certainly see how Giorgio’s promised sense of well-being could be achieve when surrounded by such items.

Gaynor Stanley follows capital trails to wild wine, wild life and wild creativity.

Wild life

I had smelled a kiwi – sweet and earthy – in the new Te Taiao Nature exhibition at Te Papa. I had heard the male’s high-pitched call across the dark native bush-clad valley and the female’s low grunt in reply. And now I was standing about 10 metres away from one on the Zealandia By Night Tour. At least 140 kiwi are known to be roaming predator-free in this remarkable urban wildlife sanctuary, located just 10 minutes from Parliament in the Karori Hills. The tail end of our group had seen one kiwi scurry under a log earlier, but it was swallowed into the undergrowth before I doubled back. Now the German bird watcher, who’d also spotted a tuatara popping its gnarly head out of its burrow earlier, the French conservationists stopped in their tracks by critically-endangered takahe and paths illuminated by glow worms (their romanticism dims when our guide Peregrine tell us we’re entranced by fungus gnats) and most of my family have the little spotted fella in their red torch beams. Alas, despite my daughter’s excitedly whispered directions, could I see the kiwi? Its camouflage and my night vision defeat me. Still, I leave seriously impressed having learned the female gives birth to the equivalent of a four-year-old child and of Zealandia’s 500-year vision (they’re 20 years in so far) to restore this fully-fenced 225-hectare valley to the environment our rarest wildlife enjoyed before man and introduced predators descended.

Wild wine

First there was the obsession with coffee. Then it was craft beer. And right now our culinary capital is embracing the wine world’s newest fascination with gusto. Natural wine is introducing a whole new lexicon to wine lists at bars and restaurants across town like ‘pet nat’ (pétillant naturel, French for natural sparkling) and ‘carbonic maceration’. Don’t be mistaken in thinking natural (or as Garage Project terms their locally produced range ‘wild wine’) is simply another term for organic or biodynamic wine. While it’s likely those with a bent for making it have chosen to grow the grapes organically, that’s not essential. Natural wine actually means wine made with minimal intervention and little or no additives, allowing the grapes to ferment as naturally as possible with skins and stems on. When I ask the waiter at foodie hotspot Loretta (181 Cuba Street) for advice, she cautions the wines are likely to be cloudy with flavours unlike those we’re used to and offers a tasting of two orange wines. Not Orange as in the New South Wales wine region, but actually orange in colour due to the skin contact. The pinot gris/gewurtraminer from Waipara’s Tongue in Groove tastes like a bone dry fortified wine so I play tame with a glass of Loveblock Orange Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. It’s a decent match for the buffalo mozzarella with cucumber and feijoa entrée. But as I devour an aubergine, farro, kale, feta and mint pie, with a side of wood oven roasted Jerusalem artichokes and a Ottolenghi-inspired salmon and freekeh salad, Loretta’s food is the only thing I’m going wild for.

Other places to try natural wine:

1154 Pastaria (132 Cuba Street) unpretentious newcomer serving classic pasta dishes lovingly made from scratch

Glass (Chews Lane) French bistro favourites in a new window-walled restaurant come wine bar

Golding’s Free Dive – a cool pub in the must-visit Hannahs Laneways between Leeds and Eve Streets strewn with artisan food producers like Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter, Lashings specialising in brownies (try the vegemite), Wellington Chocolate Company, Leeds St Bakery, one-hatted Shepherd restaurant, and Fortune Favours Craft Beer Brewery.

Garage Project (91 Aro) the Taproom just up the road from the cellar door.

Maranui Café (Lyall Bay) – I lied about the wine, but go for the delicious natural foods and setting overlooking pounding waves in a quirkily restored surf club.

Wild imagination

Warren Beaton, aka Doc Brown, greets us in his lab coat in the Weta Cave Workshop where he’s working on models of Easter Island heads, a roll of tin foil in one hand, a teaspoon in the other. Despite being one of Sir Richard Taylor’s best friends and creative collaborators from way back (Warren made the goo that Neo wakes up in in The Matrix) he’s disarmingly honest when it comes to talking about his craft. We meet Warren at the end of a 45-minute tour that, to protect Hollywood studios’ intellectual property is tight-lipped about Weta’s current movie projects (Avatar 2 is one they’re allowed to talk about) and where you can look, but for the most part not touch or photograph the incredible practical effects created for the blockbusters we’re so familiar with. Warren explains how he starts all his sculptures the same way as he proceeds to scrunch metres of tin foil into a fluffy ball that he then kneads with his bare hands into a scull shape, perfecting the eyes with “my second best sculpting tool, the humble teaspoon”. Modelling, he says, is highly addictive and “one of the most calming, centring things you can do without all that climbing Everest, meet the Dalai Lama, meditating sort of rubbish”. He’s met a soul mate in my daughter who he’s inspired to start molding some plasticine and she departs for Thunderbird 6 with Warren’s tin foil skull as a souvenir to treasure.

Thunderbird 6 is what we dub our minivan taking us to the real Miniatures Shooting Stage for Thunderbirds Are Go; Sir Richard Taylor’s reinvented version of the 60’s tv classic, in partnership with ITV. We learn the marionettes and seductive Tracy Island sets are what inspired many of the modelmakers at Weta, but that today’s children don’t connect with puppets the same way so the Tracy family, Lady Penelope and Parker are now animated. Fab Lady P’s vice these days is pug dogs rather than smoking and though Parker is still voiced by the original actor he’s had to give up drinking on the job. One of the coolest things – apart from the Tracy’s still sunken living room and literally levering back the palm trees to reveal Thunderbird 2’s iconic runway – is the amount of recycled junk that kiwi ingenuity squeezes into the sets, everything from old mattress springs, to washing machine and computer parts and lemon squeezers.

STAY

Lovers of grand hotels will delight in a stay in Wellington’s newest luxury offering. The DoubleTree by Hilton opened last year in a category one heritage building that was once one of the city’s first office towers. Built in 1928, the former T&G Building is considered one of the capital’s finest examples of the Chicago style of architecture.

Fortunately, it remains standing only because developer Mark Dunajtschik lost an Environment Court case to demolish it and instead had to spend millions restoring it. Millions more have been spent on the hotel fitout to restore and complement its art deco interiors like the chandeliered marble lobby, wooden staircase, polished copper lifts and doors to Grey Street.

The 106 spacious guest rooms are distinguished by exceptionally high ceilings, soaring over 4.5m in our junior suite, where tall arched windows overlook Lambton Quay seven storeys below. We enjoy an Espresso coffee while munching a signature warm chocolate and walnut cookie that welcomes guests to DoubleTrees the world over. The brand is actually one of the world’s fastest growing with more than 525 upscale hotels across the globe and more heading to our shores. Though they share the same high thread count and service standards of their five star Hilton sister, DoubleTrees are distinguished by a warmer atmosphere through little touches like the cookies, the towels shaped into an elephant atop the king sized bed and the yellow ducky in the bathtub.

There’s room service, a mini bar and a small gym fitted with the latest Precor video workout machines and a restaurant that surpasses expectations. Spring is a sophisticated bar and dining room which is enjoying a reputation among Wellington’s discerning foodies for standout Indian cuisine. Forget butter chicken and vindaloos, here ?? is fusing subtle, fragrant Indian flavours with classic dishes like the venison loin in Nihari jus and smoked aubergine tortellini in masala green jus we devour with a sensational spicy roti stuffed with black olives.

SHOP

One of the hotel’s best features is its location, a block from David Jones and the Lambton Quay big names, two blocks to Queen’s Wharf and restaurant stars old like Dockside and Charley Noble and new like Two Grey. Trelise Cooper and Dyrberg Kern areright behind on Featherston St, and just along Grey St, is a great little homewares find Tea Pea.

It’s a 10 minute stroll to Cuba Street’s retro gems (Trilbys and German scarves at Tangent, American Vintage at Thrift and Emporium and pricey premium labels at Hunters & Collectors) but do keep walking to Ghuznee Street for Precinct 35’s uniquely beautiful homewares, made to measure menswear at Mandatory, New Zealander designer stars at The Service Depot and ENA (including Yu Mei’s locally made handbags), Deadly Ponies, and to College Street for Orient’s carefully curated Japanese ceramics, gourmet food shopping at Moore Wilson, Kowtow’s flagship store, Nood, Citta and Ekor Bookshop and just across Tory St on Jessie St, No 16 for European and Japanese designer threads.

Four corners of the globe to escape the cold without running into peak season crowds or rainy season.

Words Gaynor Stanley

W is for Wine Country

The song promises it never rains in California, but it must do sometimes to nurture Napa Valley’s 400 wineries. A visit during summer will have you enjoying one of the world’s most beautiful wine valleys in temperatures regularly tipping into the 30s, though perhaps not as many of its famed cabernet sauvignons as you’d like. Multi-faceted hedonism is in store with charming bed and breakfasts, poolside resorts, elite golf courses, hot springs, day spas and spa hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and an artisan food trail that will sate the most discerning gourmands. Fly into San Francisco and it’s a mere hour’s drive north to delicious drops like Mumm Napa, Robert Mondavi and Louis M. Martini Winery.

A is for Aitutaki

We’re so lucky to have the unspoiled islands of the Pacific in our backyard and thousands of Kiwis make like godwits on an annual pilgrimage to sunny Rarotonga as winter starts to bite. Far fewer though venture to its 14 sister islands, partly because Raro has so much to do, so easily, but partly because the inter-island flight prices deter them. But if there’s one island to empty the piggy bank for, make it Aitutaki. It doesn’t have the volcanic peaks and verdant rainforest of Rarotonga, nor as much choice of restaurants, activities and accommodation. What it does have is the same infectiously happy people and arguably the most beautiful lagoon on the planet. Cruise, kite board or kayak the clearest and most astoundingly turquoise waters you’ll ever see. The visibility and abundance of sea creatures make for unforgettable snorkeling and diving and a barefoot stroll along an uninhabited sand motu will put the spring back in your step.

R is for Romania

Take the path less travelled by European summer vacationers and discover what many consider Eastern Europe’s most beautiful country. It’s definitely one of Europe’s least expensive (five star Grand Hotel Continental in peak season NZ$150 a night). In the bustling capital Bucharest, aka Little Paris, enjoy wide tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Epoque architecture and a plethora of museums, galleries and palaces. Cruise along the Romanian section of the Danube River to Roman ruins, the narrow Irongate gorge between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains, and exquisite medieval cities and towns. Or drive the winding roads of Transylvania through dense, dark, ancient forests and over mountain passes on the trail of Dracula.

M is for Magnetic Island

For a trans-Tasman sojourn with guaranteed temps in the high 20s you’ve got to head above the Tropic of Capricorn, so while the gorgeous Whitsundays and newly redeveloped Daydream Island Resort tempt, it may be too chilly for sunbaking until September. A few hundred kilometres further north, just 8km off the coast of Townsville, Magnetic Island may not be on your radar but it makes a compelling winter destination. This tropical beauty is two thirds national park with stunning beaches, cool cafes and a holiday vibe, especially in Horseshoe Bay at the northern end of the island. It’s home to 2500 residents, many of whom commute to the mainland on the 20-minute ferry. There are plenty of family-friendly attractions, including the must-do Forts Walk. This will have you climbing high to striking WWII fortifications with breathtaking coastal views, but it’s the readily spotted koalas snoozing in the gums along the track that really warm the heart.

Ricci Harbuck takes her family on a 10-day discovery tour of Marrakesh, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara regions of Morocco.

The cab ride from Marrakesh’s Menara Airport to our riad seemed unremarkable at first. Then, with one right turn through the arches of the ancient medina wall, we began our ride into organised chaos. Donkey carts, delivery trucks, scooters, street vendors and tourists all competed for any open patch of the road.

With eyes seemingly in the back of his head, our driver, Ibrahim, took it all in his stride; weaving through narrow alleyways and finally parking near our Airbnb. He walked us through the ancient and narrow cobblestoned alleys; four left turns and then two rights. Upon arriving, we were greeted by our housekeeper Naima and the aroma of her lamb and apricot tagine.

The next day, wanting to stretch our legs and craving some adventure, we booked a full day’s dune buggy ride with Dunes and Desert through the Agafey Stone Desert and up into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Driving up the steep foothills transformed my partner into a little boy and tested my comfort levels once or twice. Having managed to climb to a high point, we were rewarded with stunning 360-degree views of villages, abandoned ancient casbahs, and shepherds tending flocks of sheep and goats. A lunch of chicken tagine and Moroccan mint tea was served under a Berber tent against the backdrop of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.

Anxious to taste the local specialities, our food tour through Tours by Locals also proved a great way to get familiar with the souks (markets). Over the next three hours, Amie guided us through the busy commercial quarter, filling us up with olives, dates, almond pastries, stories and history. The final bite was of tangia; beef that had been slow-cooked over hot coals inside a clay urn.

The next morning our private driver/guide, Abdul from Marrakech Specialists, arrived in his SUV for the start of our five-day/four-night private tour of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara. We set off into the mountains, stopping to explore the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah (known as the Moroccan Hollywood) and spent the night in Skoura.

A traditional Moroccan breakfast kick-started day two, through which we visited a range of kasbahs and ventured off the beaten path. Memorable was the Kasbah Amridil, rich with history and beautiful architecture, which was all brought to life by our hysterically funny guide. Dades and Todgha Gorges delighted us with views of towering canyon walls, small villages nestled in strips of lush vegetation along the riverbanks and winding, desolate roads.

Then, Abdul changed our itinerary. Heading off-road for an hour, we stopped in the middle of nowhere and found a family of Berber nomads living in two caves with their livestock and 12 children. One little boy shyly gave me his hard, calloused hand and led us into the main cave for a cup of Moroccan tea. In stark contrast, the night’s accommodation was inside a luxury cave at the Auberage du Festival in Tamtatoucht.

Most of our third day was spent driving through to the Merzouga Dunes, just 15km from the Algerian border. Our camels were ready for the hour trek to camp. Abdul had joked that after three hours on a camel one is ready for the hospital and, after barely an hour, we wondered if that was true.

Arriving at camp, we were just in time for a spectacular view of the dunes bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun. Sunlight and shadows created mosaics all around us as we watched the sun set. Red Berber carpets were spread across the camp like ribbons over caramel-covered sand. After dinner the local boy band played drums in front of a roaring bonfire.

The tent did little to shield us from the freezing temperatures that night, but the blankets kept the edge off. We caught the sunrise the following day by hiking up the dunes, fuelling up on breakfast before climbing on our camels to head back to Erg Chebbi.

After returning to Marrakesh, Abdul recommended a traditional hammam – Turkish bath. TripAdvisor highly rated Alphais Spa, so we promptly booked their massage/hammam package in a bid to ease away the last impressions of our camel transportation. We entered the steamy cave-like room and lay down on a marble slab. We were quietly enjoying the zen-like calm, when suddenly, without warning, a large bucket of hot water drenched us. Black henna-soap was applied head to toe before attendants donned a scrubbing mitt and proceeded to scour us – essentially rubbing raw every square inch of our exposed bodies. Another rinse followed and a ghassoul (a clay mask) was applied and allowed to dry. We were rinsed again with bucket after bucket of hot water. The treatment ended with a fragrant rose moisturiser and a shampoo. An authentic Moroccan experience not to be missed.

To celebrate our last evening in Morocco, we made our way through the souks to Jemaa el-Fna Square for dinner at Nomad. The crowds that night were crushing, and we made slow progress moving forward. Dinner on the roof-top terrace gave us a safe bird’s eye view of snake charmers, belly dancers and Berber dancers mixed with juice stands, fake Nike shoes and iPhones.

Morocco is a country where African, Arab and European cultures are intertwined to create a most delightful and unique travel destination. You can ski, mountain bike, surf, or ride camels if you are prepared to travel. You can enjoy luxury resorts, ancient riads, golf courses and spas. But the best part of Morocco, without a doubt, is its gracious people.

Tips

Ricci Harbuck is Managing Director and Dry Feet Specialist for Wet Feet Dry Feet Travel, a travel design firm in Canterbury. A self-professed travel junkie, you can find her travelling several times a year. Always up for a challenge, she is next off to Fiji to dive with hammerhead sharks.

Words: Gaynor Stanley

If our Morocco feature has you daydreaming about which kaftans you’ll be packing, here are some mighty uprisings in neighbouring Arabian destinations to work into a stopover.

Kapow!

The United Arab Emirates revolves around all things bigger, better, blingier so it’s no surprise to learn its newest indoor theme park made it on to Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places 2018 within a month of opening.

Costing a cool $1 billion, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi presents all the characters and stories from DC Comics, Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera in 29 attractions across six ‘lands’. Step through the iconic Warner Bros. shield to enter a hedonistic world where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman fight for justice, the Flinstones and Jetsons flit by and Bugs Bunny and Scooby-Doo come to life in awe-inspiring ways.

Wandering 15 air-conditioned hectares from ride to ride must feel a bit Truman Show-esque, yet with temperature highs that average well over 30°C and into the 40s for eight months of the year, trust me, you’re going to want to be inside.

Ultimate meets unique

You’ll find the aforementioned world’s largest cartoon strip on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island – along with another indoor themed park, Ferrari World, which boasts the world’s fastest rollercoaster Formula Rossa (240kmh at full throttle), and Yas Marina Circuit - home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

Warner Bros. World’s October 2018 launch was heralded as another milestone in Abu Dhabi’s journey to become one of the world’s leading tourist destinations; and, don’t mind if we do, nab some visitor share from its overshadowing next door emirate, Dubai.

One of the other jewels in its casket is the Louvre Abu Dhabi (also on the Time Greatest Places list), which has welcomed more than a million visitors since opening just over a year ago. International visitors accounted for 60% of them, attracted by the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s remarkable architecture and buying clout with France’s finest institutions that see it hosting exhibitions like Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces of the Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre (until May 18). Inspired by traditional Islamic architecture, the Jean Nouvel-designed building features a monumental perforated dome of star shapes that create a ‘rain of light’ effect within the museum.

If you plan to self-drive between the emirates you can enjoy the Louvre’s Highway Gallery, the world’s first roadside gallery, spanning 100km of the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway. Let the locals pass by in their Bentleys and Maseratis as you tune in to local radio stations and listen to a curator’s presentation on each billboard-displayed work.

Anything you can do

Meanwhile the one-up-sheik-ship continues next door, where the USD1.4 billion Royal Atlantis Resort Dubai is due to open later this year along the beach from the original Atlantis - the resort which redefined tourism in Dubai when it opened on revolutionary manmade island The Palm, in 2008. Unlike its older sister, resplendent in Arabian pink and minarets, the Royal Atlantis Resort will be a contemporary design by New York firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates that stacks curvy boxes housing 231 residences and 795 guest rooms in Jenga-like prevarication above the Arabian Sea. Among the host of planned amenities is an infinity pool situated 90m above the ground, reminiscent of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands icon.

Not to be outshone, Atlantis The Palm – where a night in the Royal Bridge Suite averages $33,000 - continues to evolve its opulence meets entertainment niche. Last month it opened Wavehouse, which it claims is another first-of-its-kind for Dubai. Overlooking the resort’s Aquaventure Waterpark (famous for the Leap of Faith slide dropping riders at an 86-degree angle from the top of a replica Mayan temple through a clear acrylic tunnel to emerge in a shark-filled lagoon), Wavehouse now brings guests the rush of surfing in a beach bar meets gastropub setting, complete with artificial wave outdoor pool and indoor bowling arcade.

Heights of fancy

Elsewhere in the Gulf States, Oman also has many superlative attractions and places to stay – including one of the world’s highest luxury hotels Anantara’s al Jabal at Akhdar Resort. Crowning the fabled Green Mountain, two hours inland from Muscat, the 82 canyon view guest rooms, 33 private pool villas and modern Omani architecture elevate luxury to new heights.

Emiratis don’t shy from taking something extraordinary and trouncing it so in Saudi Arabia, the world’s first kilometre high building is due for completion in 2020. The Jeddah Tower will surpass the current tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa, in (no surprise here) Dubai by a heart pounding 180m. Those who thrill to new heights will be poised to make their reservation for the Four Seasons hotel or ride the elevators to the observation deck that will cling like a spaceship landing disc to the 652m point. Inspired by a bundle of leaves shooting up from the ground, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture designed Jeddah’s higest rise to emanate the growth, prosperity, and regional emergence of its homeland on the global stage. Indeed.

The Christchurch Town Hall is once again the place that commands attention, not just for the performances that resound within, but the commanding architecture throughout.

Words Richard Dalman

Christchurch has lost many great buildings as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes. The Lyttelton Tunnel building by Peter Beaven, The Press building by Armson, Collins and Harman, and the Catholic Cathedral by Francis Petre are a few that come to mind, although the latter still has a chance to be repaired.

For a long time, the Christchurch Town Hall was at risk due to the considerable structural damage incurred, and the high cost to strengthen and reinstate.

I remember quite a debate at the time as to whether the cost was going to be worth it. I can tell you now that it has opened, it is! I was a strong supporter of repairing the Town Hall and, when I visited before the opening last month, I am so glad I was.

If you are a regular reader of this column you will know that I am a fan. The unashamedly modernist architecture makes no apologies. Raw concrete, stone aggregate-faced concrete panels, copper and glass form the exterior palette.

The form of the building is derived from the internal floor plans of the individual spaces and the volume of space required for each of them, such that the three main wings extending out from the main entrance area create their own individual architecture. The oval-shaped auditorium breaks out above its octagonal concrete base with its paired columns that feature around the building, the James Hay Theatre’s fly tower extends to the sky promoting its theatre function, and the glazed restaurant and Limes Room extend out over the Avon and open up to Victoria Square and the community.

On my recent visit I was delighted to see how much attention to conserving the original architecture there had been. All of the timber work, the Pat Hanly mural, and even the spikey ceiling mouldings in the foyer that project towards you from above were removed, refurbished off-site and reinstated.

There has been considerable strengthening, including the replacement of most of the structural columns, with their new concrete finish exactly replicating the originals.

Where new exposed steel was required it has been generally well integrated into the building. For instance, just look at how the new steel supports sit comfortably with the original structure in the Limes Room.

As well as the restoration and rebuild, the Town Hall has benefited from many modern enhancements, such as the latest integrated technologies, extensive heating and cooling systems, improved accessibility, retractable theatre seating, a full commercial kitchen, and reconfigured backstage facilities.

The acoustics have always been one of the Town Hall’s key attributes. The lateral reflection of sound in the auditorium was a key concept new to any auditorium around the world. I recall the acoustic engineer, Sir Harold Marshall, in a lecture at architecture school telling us how on opening night he asked the audience to be quiet while he dropped a pin on the stage, then he asked for a show of hands for who heard it. To his delight, just about everyone put their hand up!

The original Town Hall design was by Warren and Mahoney, who won the commission in a nationwide architectural competition. It is quite fitting that the same company has led this project over the last three years. Architect Peter Marshall says:

“The re-strengthening and restoration of the Town Hall is a significant moment in the rebuild of Christchurch. Completed nearly 50 years ago, it has been host to a vast array of events, occasions, and performances, and frequently referred to as Christchurch’s ‘living room’.

“As well as being regarded as an architectural icon within the city, it also continues to feature in the top 10 auditorium spaces in the world due to its acoustic performance.

“Completion of the building is testament to the vision of the council, the commitment of the design team, and the efforts of countless contractors who have undertaken this complex project.”

For me, the newly opened Christchurch Town Hall is one of the post-earthquake’s success stories. It is both a pleasure and privilege to have the old lady up and running again – to experience the variety of well-crafted spaces, to see shows and attend events, to remember the good times had in the building, and to now create a new series of personal and community collective memories.

Words Gaynor Stanley
Photography Charlie Rose Creative

This quietly elegant family haven has turned the heads of some of the world’s most discerning interiors critics. Lounging gracefully on an Avon stream flowing by to Mona Vale, the home’s blend of equal parts refinement, equal parts vibrancy has earned it international plaudits.
Melissa and Mark Prosser moved into the warm and welcoming home they built two years ago, after working for about 18 months with interior designer Ben Lewis of Trenzseater to achieve interiors that were new, exciting and unexpected. Correspondingly, Ben’s brief was to create a space that was useable, not precious, and could easily be lived in by a family. The result was a triumph that saw the interiors shortlisted for London’s International Design & Architectural Awards 2018 and the SBID International Design Awards 2018.

The couple, particularly Melissa, had firm ideas on style having built two prior homes for themselves and many more for clients of Mark Prosser Builders. The home demonstrates an appreciable balance of both designer wants and client needs. Well, the yin and yang of Melissa and Ben, that is. “Mark doesn’t factor in at all,” laughs Melissa. His favourite spot is the garage, home to his prized Toyota Landcruiser BJ40, back-up beer fridge and beloved 40th birthday gift, chocolate labrador Mac, so named for Mark’s initials Mark Alexander Cook. Their 20-year-old son, Alex, also lives here, as did his 22-year-old sister Jessica until recently (she’s now moved
out to her first home). Alex then took the opportunity to nab the guest bedroom downstairs. “Not sure why as both his rooms enjoyed the same view over the Wairarapa Stream. Maybe to do with coming and going easier,” muses Melissa.

Working in the family business, Melissa had boundless inspiration to draw on, from fabulous homes she’d encountered and admired. “But it was information overload, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I moved past the point of wanting to do it myself, so that’s why I got Ben in.

“One of the reasons I chose Ben is he likes to push the boundaries. However, we don’t like modern. We wanted enduring and classic.”
Ben then had the challenge of delivering a classic style that was sophisticated yet inventive. The task was perhaps made easier by virtually every item of furniture – bar a chaise lounge in the hallway that was Mark’s grandfather’s and some pieces from Furnishscene (now Design Supply Co) – being sourced new or especially made locally by Trenzseater. Their previous home’s furniture either went to Jessica’s new house or to the family holiday house in the Marlborough Sounds being renovated at the time. “The design was intentionally designed to be timeless,” says Ben. “We used a neutral colour palette accented with strong natural browns and blacks as well as classic camel accents. We also popped various areas with fresh emerald green to add visual vibrancy.”

Ben’s brief was for a full interior design package that also included some architectural elements, kitchen and bathroom design consultation, door hardware, lighting, flooring, window furnishings, and wallcoverings.
An inspired architectural contribution was his suggestion of ‘bookmatched’ Neolith Calacatta Gold marble, from CDK Stone, to meet the Prossers’ wish to upgrade the gibboard wall in the stairwell specified in the original Sheppard & Rout plans they’d bought with the section. This magnificent feature wall – a feat of engineering – forms the spine of the house and extends outside to the entrance porch. The softly veined, greytoned marble recurs in the kitchen and two of the four bathrooms.

The marble’s lustre is about the extent of the sheen though. While Ben loves gloss, Melissa restrained its presence to the occasional black Miyaki sideboard and side table. “We’re not glossy people,” she says. Similarly, she curbed his trademark green, which initially she declared “she was over seeing everywhere”, to a resplendent dollop of vivid emerald here and there. “Ben needs to be seen to be evolving and he has great ideas,” Melissa says. Happy to consider them all, Ben, in turn, gladly accepted her just saying “yes” or “no” to his suggestions. Melissa’s affectionate touch is evident in every room, but her favourite feature of the 424m² home on its 1954m² rear section, is its privacy from the road and the huge amount of space.

The Prossers also negotiated to buy the section in front to build and sell a single-storey home that protects their secluded aspect. “We love it. It’s just perfect. We come from the country and like our space.” Not that the home feels cavernous. Despite being spacious and contemporary, that palpable starkness of many modern dwellings is absent thanks to the classic furnishings and natural textures in relatable interiors. “I like snug,” says Melissa, who also channelled that architecturally by changing the original plans for a walk-in pantry and media room into the downstairs bedroom and plans for an indoor pool into an outdoor room with a fireplace.

Some have queried the lack of a walk-in pantry in such a prestigious home, but Melissa says this was planned from the outset of the kitchen she designed with long-time collaborator Richard Hill of Joinery Scene. She had a massive pantry in her Ohoka home off the kitchen and “found I was constantly tidying away and cleaning up after the family”. Here the pantry runs the full width of the kitchen splashback, hidden behind marble cupboard doors. Similarly hidden in plain sight are the ovens that blend invisibly into the end wall of black glass. The kitchen has the largest island
bench Christchurch Corian has ever made at a whopping 4.2m long by 1.5m wide. Another Melissa specification to get her dream functional kitchen, was that it be wide enough for two wine fridges that open to the entertaining area.

Ben says his favourite aspect of this project was collaborating with the Prossers to ensure all elements of the design and architecture melded cohesively. “Also pushing the boundaries to offer something unique and unexpected, such as the combination of parquetry timber work mixed with banana leaf and seagrass wallpapers accented with crystal lighting and brushed brass door hardware.” Oak parquet flooring, dark chocolate American oak timber joinery, doors and furniture, European rugs and mirrors, flock and glass wallpapers, fine wools and antiqued leather layer further natural texture. “We believe it’s the details that offer refinement,
personality, balance, character and luxury,” says Ben. He certainly nailed the brief for this building duo who may have laid their final foundation, loving their move to town after decades living in traditional country homesteads. The Prossers are totally at home in their contemporary city abode. “For the first time we actually feel really settled,” says Melissa.

Traditionally, hotels have focused on quality of service and product to justify their five‑star status. By product, I mean the size of spaces and materials used – cavernous atrium's, extravagant chandeliers and copious amounts of marble and granite equaled luxury. Also fine dining restaurants were compulsory.

While these hotel attributes can still help to define luxury, there has been a move towards new kinds of luxury for hotel guests. In this month’s article, I will discuss what these might be.

1.Design

Architecture and interior design have always been a way for a hotel to express quality and their five‑star status. Think of The Savoy, London, or Raffles Singapore.

But in recent years, the design ante has been ramped up to a new level with star architect designed hotels such as Marqués de Riscal in Spain by Frank Gehry or the S heraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort in Huzhou, China, and Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.

While the interiors of the first two aforementioned hotels do not live up to the excellence of the exterior architecture, the interior of the Burj Al Arab certainly does, albeit a bit over the top and dated now – but there is no doubt that design contributes significantly to the six‑star status of this hotel.

2. Space

Large amounts of space can equal luxury. It was the vast atrium of the fomer Christchurch Crowne Plaza that was the main reason that hotel received a five‑star rating (the rooms were relatively small).

The Penthouse at Christchurch’s Hotel Montreal is vast and takes up most of the top floor. This is probably the central city’s best hotel room and while you may not use all the spaces in the living area, its spaciousness contributes to its luxurious feel.

Small spaces beautifully crafted can still feel luxurious, like Pescatore’s private dining room at The George,Christchurch.

3. Materials

Traditionally luxury hotels have used the finest materials for their interiors. This tradition has been maintained with many of the new Chinese hotels where relatively cheap supplies of marble and granite have translated into very rich interiors – not always put together in a well-designed ensemble unfortunately.

In new hotels, basic materials such as raw concrete, steel and timber can be used in clever ways to still create the feeling of luxury, as in the bathrooms of the Waterhouse at South Bund in Shanghai.

4. Service

Whether it be personal service (remembering not only your name, but also your preferences for wine, TV programmes, newspapers, etc), or even a personal chef (which is available at Seascape, Annandale, Banks Peninsula), service has always been, and still is, a key factor in luxury stays.

With the use of databases and big data applications, individual preferences can be applied, even at very large hotels with hundreds of guests at a time.

5. Technology

Hotels have traditionally pushed the boundaries of technology. They used to have bigger TVs and better technology than we had at home. This has now been reversed, and hotels have struggled to keep up.

However, the latest features like cellphone entry as at Mi-Pad in Queenstown, and smart rooms controlled by the guest’s voice are becoming more common.

6. Time

While the previous concepts of luxury have always been part of the agenda for upmarket hotels, recently others have come to the fore. One of these is the concept of “having time”.

In our busy world, time has become a luxury. Time to relax and not be bothered; time to think and not have to react; time spent with people we care about and love.

What do hotels offer that can allow us to take our time? Very late and flexible breakfasts so we can sleep in, is one idea. Instead of a breakFAST, maybe a breakSLOW!

I think that flexibility is the key to allowing guests to live to the time zone they feel like.

7. Seclusion

Along with time, seclusion can be a new luxury. Getting away from the world – no cellphone coverage or emails can, surprisingly, be a luxury! New Zealand is perfect for that as there are so many remote areas.

Seascape is so secluded it takes 40 minutes by four-wheel drive to get there from Annandale. You are the only guests in the whole of the bay, and the only connection to the outside world is a satellite phone (for emergencies).

8. Pureness

For tourists who live in polluted cities such as London or Beijing, pure air, water and soil can be a luxury. In New Zealand we have it all (but perhaps not as much as what we are known for overseas). This is a concept we are promoting to the world and they are believing it – we now need to make sure we deliver.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef is a true eco-hotel and offers the “pure” experience in five‑star luxury. Experiencing virgin rainforest at this hotel, from your guest room or restaurant balcony, can be a priceless luxury.

In New Zealand, we have the ability to create hotels that have the three new luxuries for very little cost. And the world wants it. Bring it on!

If Christmas leaves you wistful for a winter wonderland, perhaps it’s time to put a visit to the official hometown of Santa Claus in Finnish Lapland on your wish list.

Words Gaynor Stanley

Contrary to popular belief, Santa does not reside at the North Pole. His original home is a closely guarded secret in the far northern fells of Finland, but, in 1985, he set up headquarters to welcome visitors every day of the year at Santa Claus Village, located right on the Arctic Circle just a few kilometres north of the small city of Rovaniemi. The big man in red receives half a million visitors annually, from all corners of the globe and, as you’d expect, the numbers snowball as the chocolates disappear from the advent calendars.

Festive fever starts to peak from a month before Christmas when locals and tourists gather in the central square of Santa Claus Village for the annual Grand Opening of the Christmas Season. The traditional ceremony reminds us of the Christmas message of goodwill, sharing and caring, and the elves and local artists put on a festive concert that culminates in Santa Claus’s speech.

One of the most hectic days on the festive calendar is December 23, which marks the culmination of the year’s preparations with the Santa is on his Way event drawing huge crowds of well-wishers to cheer on the sleigh’s departure and a global television audience.

What to expect

At Christmas time, daylight hours are few, while snowfall is vast, which makes for a concentrated daily dose of magical activities. Imagine dashing through the snow on sleighs pulled by huskies or reindeer through trees cloaked in white. Or a family snowmobile safari in the blue twilight of the Polar Night to the barren fells high above the treeline, the kids astride their own pint-sized snowmobiles. You might also learn to drive a reindeer – at ground level (flying skills take centuries to master). And those are just the warm-up acts.

The main attraction for anyone besotted with Christmas is spellbinding encounters with Santa and his elves. You’ll be served by elves at the Santa Claus Main Post Office, operated by Finland’s national postal service to handle the avalanche of Dear Santa letters that arrives each year (15 million from 198 countries since 1985). Tip: Make sure to mail your Christmas cards here to brand them with a unique ‘look-at-me’ Arctic Circle postmark. You can help the elves make traditional Christmas gingerbread or groom Santa’s reindeers ready for their annual flight around the globe. The kids can even be enrolled at Elf School to learn the most essential lessons of being an elf. No doubt the kids will forever cherish the memory of descending the long underground tunnel into Santas’s home cavern for a private audience in his office.

Steady the schmaltz

Now, if all this jolliness is provoking a touch of the ‘Bah! Humbug!’, balance your itinerary experiencing some of these other sensational Rovaniemi experiences.

1. The spectacular Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are visible in and around Rovaniemi from mid-August until early April. A Christmas visit has the bonus of the soft blue twilight known as the Polar Night, which lasts from mid-November to mid-January. Sun and longer days return in February. Go Aurora spotting the traditional way by donning some snowshoes or cross-country skis.

2. Stay in an extraordinary hotel. The Arctic Snowhotel in Rovaniemi is made entirely of snow and ice while glass igloos promise romantic Northern Lights viewing at Snowman World Glass Resort or Santa’s Igloos. Check-in for designer style in the treetops at Arctic Treehouse Hotel or the luxury hotel voted Finland’s best at Rovaniemi’s Arctic Light Hotel.

3. Cultural attractions abound in the creative city of Rovaniemi. Visit the Korundi House of Culture housing the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland and Rovaniemi Art Museum, containing one of Finland’s finest collections of modern art. The Arktikum Museum attracts as much for its arctic nature exhibits as the striking 172-metre-long glass tunnel that leads to it from Ounasjoki River. Between December and April, its windows offer a spectacular view of long-distance skaters and skiers gliding across the frozen river.

4. Architectural gems. Pilke Science Center is an example of ecological wooden construction at its best and a showpiece of Finnish architecture. World-renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto had a major influence on Rovaniemi designing several buildings (the library still stands) along with the distinctive town plan, known as the Reindeer Antler, in 1945.

5. Finland is synonymous with sauna and there will be ample opportunities to indulge, but at the Arctic Snowhotel even the sauna is made from snow and ice. Only the sauna benches are made from wood. The thick steam of the stove keeps the temperature high, even though the snowy walls radiate cold.

Fin facts

If taking the children to Finland is pushing your sled too hard, they can always send a letter to Santa: Santa Claus’ Main Post Office, Santa Claus Village Rovaniemi, Tähtikuja 1, 96930 Arctic Circle, Finland.

The typical daytime temperature in December is -20 to -10 degrees Celsius.

Rovaniemi, population 60,000, was almost completely destroyed in World War II. In 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, came to witness the rebuilding process and wanted to visit the Arctic Circle. Officials built a cabin eight kilometres north of the city, which still stands today next to the Santa Claus Main Post Office.

There are more reindeer in Lapland than sheep. While they all have an owner, they roam free and every visitor is bound to have multiple encounters – even on the dinner menu.

In Finland, Christmas Eve is the main event of the holidays, and the night Santa comes with his presents. It is spent with the family, decorating the tree, drinking “glögi” (mulled wine) and doing the quintessential Finnish thing, bathing in a Christmas sauna. A visit to Christmas Mass at midnight is customary for many.

There’s not a cloud in the sky, the heat is up and you’re ready to emerge, but where to go? We hunted high and low for places worthy of your time in the sun.

Words Gaynor Stanley

 

Warehouse chic in Dunedin

New life continues to be breathed into the splendid heritage buildings of Dunedin’s Warehouse Precinct. Built to house companies riding high on the Otago gold rush, over the past couple of years

these historic gems have been revived and gentrified to attract creative workspaces and ‘it’ places to eat like Vogel St Kitchen, Precinct Food and Taste Nature. Talk of the town over the winter months was restaurant newcomer Moiety taking up residence in the former Terminus Hotel. Diners are flocking to enjoy Sam Gasson and Kim Underwood’s five-course menu unpretentiously plating the best of local produce (venison tartare anyone?) in an intimate dining room stripped back to the building’s original brick, steel and hefty beams.

Coming very soon to Vogel St in the Warehouse Precinct is Kind Grocer, a plant-based grocer, deli and herbal dispensary.

For more warehouse architecture done with thoughtful attention to detail, you can book to stay right upstairs in a one- or two-bedroom loft-style apartment at The Terminus.

Elsewhere in the Terminus Hotel building you’ll find Brendan Seal making wine. Yes, actually pressing grapes and cellaring right on the premises. When not winemaking for Chard Farm, Mt Difficulty and Mt Edward, Brendan has finessed pinot noirs and aromatic whites in California, Oregon and Alsace.  Observing the trend to urban wineries in cities like Portland and Melbourne, with similarly exceptional winemaking regions in their backyards, Brendan decided the concept was ideal for Dunedin.  After trialling a pop-up venture, URBN VINO Project has now established a permanent home in the historic pub to craft small parcel, single vineyard wines from Central Otago. Visit the new cellar door open Saturdays from 1-5pm or by appointment, or try an URBN VINO wine at Ombrellos Kitchen & Bar, NOVA or Vogel St Kitchen.

Speaking of Ombrellos, this much-loved Dunedin eatery is poised to open a new venue underneath Petri Dish on Stafford St.

 

Southern Lakes stars

We didn’t need another excuse to take the spectacular 40-minute drive up Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy but the Full Monty has us planning our next trip. This fully-clothed experience is a gelato sundae served in a waffle cup with raspberries and organic chocolate chips on top. The gelato is just one of many temptations at Mrs Woolly’s General Store, where you can furnish a picnic from fresh local meats and produce and breads, cookies and pastries, all made in-house.

Definitely don’t limit yourself to a day trip though when Camp Glenorchy and Mrs Woolly’s Campground are new at the head of the lake too.  Glampers can bunker down in one of eight canvas tents that fling open their flaps for the summer season this month. Each features a king, queen or two twin beds, fresh linens, a carpet, cushioned chairs, and coffee and fresh pastries delivered each morning.  For a family camping experience that’s way more ritz than rustic, then Camp Glenorchy offers en suite bathrooms and designer interiors in quirky cabins rivalling the Humboldt Mountains backdrop for eye candy.  You’ll sleep even sounder knowing Camp Glenorchy is the country’s first net zero energy use visitor accommodation and that all profits from each of these associated endeavours are directed back into a community trust.

Eichardt’s Bar in Queenstown was crowned Asia & Pacific’s Best Hotel Bar in this year’s Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Awards, so make sure you peruse the cocktail list before ordering your go-to glass of Bollinger.

Following the bad luck of a fire in August, the hidden away gem that is Ode Wanaka expects to reopen later in October and has just been named as a finalist for Cuisine’s Good Food Awards (along with neighbours Bistro Gentil and Kika). Serving the best of local organic produce in a three- or eight-course menu alongside a full organic and biodynamic wine list and locally distilled spirits.

 

New horizons in Christchurch

It’s now been more than a year since Original Sin began tempting us back to The Terrace, soon followed by the cocktail lounge Kong. Fast-forward to today and the choice is all yours – Craft Embassy, Botanic, Terrace Tavern, Bangalore Polo Club, Amaterrace Teppanyaki, Fat Eddie’s and Amazonita, all injecting new blood into the old ‘strip’. If you haven’t yet ventured to explore the precinct’s laneways and stairwells, you’ll find the vibe these days is much more ‘grown up’ with some very glamorous fitouts, serious kitchens and striking architecture embracing the Avon River outlook.  We wait with bated breath for Chiwahwah to add Mexican to the menu options… any day now.

And after a year and a half in development, the new Hoyts multiplex complex EntX Entertainment Centre opened September 28 to enliven the prime Colombo and Lichfield street corner with seven cinemas and 13 eateries.

The southern end of town is also getting some serious love from the hospitality sector as the city rebuilds. Blink-and-you’d-miss-it Welles Street is becoming quite the hospo hub with its namesake pub where the beers rotate but the mezze and rotisserie chook are consistently flavour-packed. Next door is Bootleg BBQ Co and along the street it’ll be double delights when Auckland fave Burger Burger moves in with Supreme Supreme at the end of the year to introduce Cantabs to its slow-cooked meats, vegan specialties and sustainable ethos.

While you weren’t paying attention, Sydenham has become something of a foodie hotspot too. 5th Street (Elgin Street) took out the gong for Outstanding New Establishment of the Year in the recent Christchurch Hospitality Awards, as voted by industry peers. Its older sister across the road, Hello Sunday, claimed the People’s Choice award and was a finalist in the Outstanding Café category, along with newcomer Southside Social (Wordsworth Street) – abrought to you by Eaton Drink Co, which has added this delicious daytime eatery to its catering operations and promises a garden bar this spring.  Over on Colombo Street, The Fermentist was in the running for Outstanding Ambience and Design but its inexpensive wholesome food, kombuchas and craft ales and garden are even more compelling reasons to visit. And the feline inclined should book in for an hour-long cuppa with a side of furry snuggles at the cat-café-cum-adoption-agency, Catnap, just across the street.

And if that’s whet your appetite for exploring the far reaches of our city, set your GPS for Roydvale Ave in Burnside to enjoy Strange Bandit, the second venture by celebrated Moorhouse Avenue barista Luciano Marcolino. Go east to discover the organic deli delights of BearLion Foods in New Brighton, head up Mount Pleasant to the Summit Road and stupendous views of My Coffee at Hornbrook, or drink in the harbour view from the rooftop bar at Eruption Brewing in Lyttelton.

Been there, done that? Keep your itineraries fresh visiting these rising stars or the old favourites having another moment in the sun.

Perth 

The mining boom drove a swag of swanky new hotels, both high-end and hip, and a host of new shopping and restaurant precincts. While mining has waned, the hotels and visitors keep coming to a revamped city boosted by new non-stop flights between Perth and Europe. Much of the city’s transformation stems from the $580-million redevelopment of a huge CBD block around Cathedral Square where several heritage State Buildings had sat unused for 20 years. Then COMO The Treasury took up residence in three of the 140-year-old buildings and promptly won every award going, including #2 Best Hotel in the World on the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards 2016. It remains the only Australian hotel on the Top 50 list, but Perth travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to luxury lodgings.  The design-driven Alex Hotel in Northbridge was another trendsetter and has since been joined, among others, by The Melbourne Hotel, another boutique heritage revival; the Westin Perth and InterContinental, along Hay St from The Treasury; and Crown Towers Perth across the Swan River. More international heavyweights like Hilton’s DoubleTree and Ritz Carlton open later this year and big investment is now planned to re-energise idyllic Scarborough Beach and Fremantle.

For retail therapy and top eats head to the State Buildings, King Street Precinct in the city’s West End or Northbridge.

 

Lisbon

It’s been dubbed Europe’s new capital of cool and plenty are heading Lisbon’s way attracted by its chilled blend of big little city charm. Some come for the culture, its hilly coastal beauty best explored by trams, funiculars and the Santa Justa elevator; others to surf, shop, admire the architecture, or indulge in the food (Pasteis De Belem, famed for its Portugese Tarts, was TripAdvisor’s most reviewed restaurant globally last year – be prepared to queue for one of 23,000 magnetic morsels made daily). Everyone is welcomed by fashionable, creative inhabitants enjoying living in the city of the moment. And, compared with much of Europe, Lisbon has the bonus of being inexpensive.

Also consider Belgium: the past four years’ WWI commemorations have put the spotlight on the Flanders Fields battlegrounds and a wealth of beautiful, yet unsung nearby Flemish cities like Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels.

 

La Paz

At 3,640 metres above sea level, it’s little wonder that La Paz feels so other worldly.

To say that La Paz is hustling and bustling would be an almighty understatement; the constantly frantic nature of this Bolivian city is often too much to handle. But if you can stick it out, there are serious rewards to be reaped.

There’s really no surmising this incredible destination, where an ancient culture that predates the Incas meets modern South American living, so get amongst it! Visit the Witches’ market, watch some wrestling cholitas, sample the local culinary delights and round off a manic day of exploring with a famed Bolivian spirit, such as singani. When it comes to getting around La Paz, let us recommend Mi Teleférico, the world’s longest and highest urban cable car network.

This South American must-see certainly delivers high altitude and high intensity, so don’t forget to breathe.

An exclusive destination in the best sense of the word, La Paz flies under the tourist radar more for its challenging geography, than its high prices.

 

Seoul

Rest well before your trip to Seoul because this is the non-stop city that will keep you intrigued 24 hours a day.

From an early morning palace tour to admiring the numerous galleries, in between each stop you’re sure to spend much time gazing up at the most spectacular architecture. When the sun goes down behind Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park and City Hall, vodka-like drinks called Soju will recharge your batteries before you take on the Namdaemun night markets. If you’re still standing, no trip to this diverse city would be complete without blasting out a few karaoke favourites in a self-service noraebang or hitting the plentiful dancefloors of either Itaewon or Hongdae.

Seoul is just as modern as it is traditional and as natural as it is cosmopolitan. This forward-thinking and most dynamic destination, will have you returning time and time again.

Don’t miss: South Korea’s second-largest city Busan, a port beauty attracting plenty of attention for its mountains, beaches, hot springs and food.

 

Time to revisit

Since the opening of the look-at-me Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore seems to have shed its safe and sterile persona to offer visitors a far more edgy experience (read Kate Preece’s Singapore experience page 20).

It’s got some of the most incredible attractions in the world, but since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, the world’s visitors have stayed away big time.  Over the past year or two a lot of effort has been going in to allay security fears (especially at Egypt’s airports and museums) and incentivise tourists’ return. Bear in mind MFAT official advice that it considers Egypt high risk because an ongoing threat of terrorism throughout the country, including in Cairo.

safetravel.govt.nz/egypt

Rugby World Cup 2019, Tokyo Olympics 2020; more Michelin 3-star restaurants than anywhere else in the world... Need we say more?

 

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