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A favorite, I will recommend the family owned lodge to friends who appreciate customer centered small luxury properties in an ecotourism destination.

Overall Impression What first drew my attention to Cabot Lodge is that it sits on the edge of the Fjordland National Park, described as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful parks. Built originally as a private home within the 2,000 acre Cathedral Peaks Station estate the lodge was lovingly restored, renovated and upgraded by newlyweds Breidi and Brad Alexander. The new property, it opened to the public in 2018, was one of the most remote stops in my off-the-beaten path Intrepid tour of the South Island.

A problem with our vehicle delayed my arrival into the evening. Since the owners lived off property it meant they had to remain at the lodge past the dinner service to wait for me. Despite the inconvenience they welcomed me with a cheerful demeanor and made me feel at home. It was a promising start. After a long day of travel, some of it uncertain and frustrating, arriving at the spotless and well appointed lodge was soothing and reassuring, significantly better than I had anticipated. Their attitude remained warm and accommodating throughout my stay. Thanks to their authentic hospitality and enthusiasm, and the lodge’s luxury amenities and intimate ambiance it was one of my favorite places on the trip.

The lodge’s architectural design and positioning meant that there were lake and mountain vistas from nearly every corner, including my room and my bathroom as well as the library and dining room in the common areas. There was more to the property that pretty views. In my few hours of down time I appreciated the many details not the least of which was the comfort and pleasant temperature of my room. Despite the outdoor chill at night I was toasty and during the heat of the day the indoor temperature remained cool. The serenity, day furniture and extras, including a working fireplace and flowers, made me want to linger to soak in the green and blue scenery beyond the oversize windows. The library too seemed an ideal place to relax or lounge away rainy day hours.

On the second night of my stay the owners, at the request of my tour guide, surprised me with delicious fresh crayfish served at the cocktail hour. Procuring it had been expensive and required special effort. The couple’s understated and generous gesture stood out in my mind although none of the guests made any remarks. I appreciated that Brad prepared meals from scratch using as many locally sourced products as possible.

I traveled a long way to Cabot Lodge to visit the Fjordland National Park. The plan was to embark on an extended helicopter ride to see as much as possible during my one day there. But in the park Mother Nature was cloaked in showers with gusty winds, causing the ride to be delayed multiple times. What I saw on the bumpy flight before it was cut short was majestic. I left longing to spend more days at Cabot Lodge and revisit the park. Should the opportunity present itself I would love to return. A favorite, I will recommend the family owned lodge to friends who appreciate customer centered boutique properties in an ecotourism destination.

Children The property welcomed guests 10 years and older. Guests booking the entire lodge were welcome to bring younger children.

Class of Accommodation Experiential Lodge

Connectivity The property had complimentary unlimited WiFi in all rooms and common areas.

Handicapped Access No, there were stairs and grass covered common areas.

Languages English

Length of Stay Two nights

Location Invercargill Airport was 142 kilometers or about one hour and 45 minutes from the property. Queenstown Airport was 163 kilometers or two hours from the property.

Owned and Managed Breidi and Brad Alexander owned and managed the lodge. Breidi’s parents, Cam and Wendy McDonald, owned Cathedral Peaks Station, the farm on which the lodge is located.

Year opened/renovated 2018

The Lodge was built in 1998 as a private home. The new owners renovated it in 2018 before opening it to guests. The structure of the property remained the same, but the furnishings and upholstery had been updated, including fresh carpets, drapes and cabinetry.

Pets Allowed No

Size The two story property had four guestrooms, including a two-bedroom suite, which could accommodate four persons. The interior space of the lodge was approximately 524 square meters (5,641 square feet) under roof. The lodge was within the 2,000 acre Cathedral Peaks Station estate comprised of farmland and several pine forest plantations. There were three staff at the lodge and three staff on Cathedral Peaks Station.

Lobby and Common Areas The lodge was comprised of five separate Pods linked by covered walkways, designed to ensure optimum views. The Pod concept offered intimacy and privacy although at times I found it easier to walk around the garden to bypass the library on my way to the kitchen. There were two patios facing Lake Manapouri and a central courtyard with alpine plantings incorporated into the paved steps. The intricate ceilings in the living rooms were made from Southland beech, milled 40 minutes from the property. The roofs were made of copper. The property was built largely from Hinuera stone from the North Island of New Zealand. There were four open fireplaces, in the dining room, library, outdoors in the central courtyard, and in the Pomona Suite.

In the library there were leather couches, day beds in direct line of the sun, and velvet lounge chairs in front of the fireplace. The owners selected the color scheme of “forest greens, lake blues, and tussock yellows to reflect the surroundings.”

They commissioned New Zealand artist Peter Beadle to paint a number of artworks of Fjordland. The artworks were in several rooms, including in the living and dining rooms, Pomona Suite and Cathedral Peaks Suite. There were also maps of the first recorded drawings of New Zealand, limited edition prints depicting indigenous culture and early Maori settlements.

Bathroom The most noteworthy feature of the rectangular bathroom was the view. From every corner of the sunlit space it was possible to look out at the green lawns in the back of the lodge and the scenery beyond. Light décor and a spotless interior made it inviting. The shower had glass doors, offering a view from within. A separate bathtub was adjacent to two windows.

Room I stayed in the smallest accommodations, the Pomona Deluxe Suite, a 41 square meter (approximately 441 square feet) room. It was named after its mountain outlook Pomona Island. Declared pest and predator free, it is one of the largest islands on Lake Manapouri. Kiwis had been released onto the island. The room was furnished for comfort and to take maximum advantage of the view. A large bed took up the central space across from the fireplace. There was a desk and chair next to the entrance, an armchair in one corner and a lounge space in opposite corner adjacent to the window. A walk in closet offered drawer and hanging space as well as an electronic safe, mini bar and hot beverage service.

Food and Restaurants Brad was the resident beekeeper and chef. Many of of the greens served at the lodge were grown on the property. Most of the ingredients for the meals were sourced locally whenever possible. The menu changed daily depending on guests preferences and product availability. Brad baked desserts from scratch.

Amenities On arrival guests receive a complimentary drink of their choice. Due to my tardy arrival I did not have a drink. My room was stocked with complimentary water, soft drinks, fresh fruit, a self serve hot beverage service and home baked toffee slices. There were bathrobes in the wardrobe, as well as locally made 50 milliliter toiletries (Aromotherapy Co range and Ritual), including body wash, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, bath salts, and shower caps. The toiletries, made in New Zealand, were free from artificial colors, fragrance, harsh chemicals and had dyes with biodegradable formulations. All of the packaging was recyclable. The property returned partially used soaps to the manufacturer to be converted into bio-diesel and biodegradable industrial cleaners. None of their products was tested on animals. Their products were not genetically modified. There were also hairdryer, iron and electronic safe. There was a heated towel rack in the bathroom.

Property tours and beehive experiences were included in the room rate. A beehive experience was not on offer during my stay. In the evenings there were complimentary drinks and snacks. In the morning Brad prepared a complimentary cooked and continental breakfast, including eggs, bacon, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, or blueberry pancakes. There was a small buffet with bircher muesli, fresh fruit, yogurt and nuts. In the rooms there were smart TVs connected to Netflix.

Facilities There was a library and a dining room with an adjacent open kitchen.

Other The name Cabot was from Frank and Anne Cabot of New York, who built the property after visiting the owners of Cathedral family farm over 20 years earlier. The Cabots had heard about Wendy’s garden at Breidi’s childhood home and wanted to visit. After spending the afternoon in the garden and touring the farm they said they never wanted to leave. In time they built the property as a holiday home, returning to summer in Manapouri every year. Following Frank’s passing, the McDonald family purchased the Lodge as it was located in the center of their family farm. The property remained empty until Cam and Wendy’s youngest daughter and her husband Brad left their corporate jobs in Auckland to transform the family home into a lodge, named in honor of Frank and Anne.

The lodge is within a working 2,000 acre farm with 4,500 sheep, 2,000 deer, 500 cattle and 75 beehives (as well as a miniature pony and three pet lambs). On request the owners provided a golf car visit of the estate for a ground level view of a New Zealand farming experience. Thanks to its location bordering the Fiordland National Park (a World Heritage Park) guests could access a private jetty on the Waiau River overlooking the park. Three of New Zealand’s designated Great Walks and some 50 other hikes as well as Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound, Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau are near the lodge.

In an effort to be net carbon zero, the owners undertook considerable tree planting on the property to offset their activities. The Te Anau-Manapouri Airport on the boundary of the property (minutes from the lodge) could accommodate small aircraft and private jets.

Cleanliness Excellent

Date of Review February 2019


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Service The owners were the only staff I met. They were friendly, well informed, helpful and welcoming. Everything was new looking, odor free and in working order.

Would You Stay There Again? Yes

Contact Information

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