As a keen hiker, I consider myself lucky to have experienced my fair share of memorable lunch views. I have fond memories of eating rehydrated rations in the cloudy heights of Luxmore Hut, and a peanut butter sandwich after slogging up to the Harris Saddle on the Routeburn Track. None, however, compare to the dining experience that has been crafted for me during my stay at The Lindis in Canterbury.
As I dig into artisanal cheeses, zingy bites of cured fish and moreish marshmallow cubes, I marvel at the fact that I’m sitting at a table covered in a white tablecloth, cosying up with merino blankets, in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Dubbed ‘The Amphitheatre’, this dramatic rockface and river bend is the remnant of a glacier that receded some 20,000 years ago. With no one else around, it’s not hard to imagine what the landscape looked like before civilisation.
The alpine lunch, I’m not surprised to learn, is one of the most popular activities here at The Lindis. It feels rare and special to relish a dining experience such as this, and to me, demonstrates why this luxury lodge is considered one of the finest in the country.
This exclusive accommodation is nestled in the heart of the Ahuriri Valley, hidden amongst rolling hills and flanked by sweeping mountain peaks. ‘Hidden gem’ is a fitting term, as this building appears as if it has been carved out of the landscape. Driving past the sculptural gate at the end of a gravel road, a wooden sliver emerges from the folds of the hills. Nearby buildings poke out like little Hobbit holes from the tussock. Soon, the snaking river takes shape, meandering down the valley.
Designed by architect Christopher Kelly from Architecture Workshop, The Lindis was conceived as a continuation of the landscape. Outside, the minimalist design and natural aesthetic allow the landscape to take centre stage, while inside, an air of rustic elegance is created with timber accents and a breathtaking circular lighting piece in the centre of the room.
Floor-to-ceiling glass wraps around the building, offering sweeping views of the valley and river before it. Two master suites and three lodge suites sit inside the curved building, each positioned for prime views. At the heart of the lodge you’ll find the dining room, lounge, bar and games room, everything meticulously designed with beautiful artworks that echo the sculptural quality of the building.
Three ‘pods’ are the latest addition to the accommodation offering. Located just out of sight of the main lodge, these private abodes are designed with mirrored glass, each boasting luxurious amenities such as a king-size bed and private bathtub, while bringing guests closer to nature.
“The vision behind the pods was to create unique structures that applied the same thinking as the lodge building itself (to blend in and take on the natural surroundings) but with a completely different design,” says The Lindis Group Managing Director, William Hudson.
“This is where the idea of the reflective glass came in – which simply mirrors our beautiful landscape.”
The Dalrachney Master Suite is our home for the next two nights. Boasting a rainshower, free-standing bath, super-king bed, sitting room and cosy fireplace, it radiates luxury and comfort. If it weren’t for the stunning natural surroundings and abundance of activities on oer, one would find it hard to peel themselves away from this gorgeous haven.
AT NATURE’S DOORSTEP
Primely situated on 2400 hectares of private land and right in the heart of the Ahuriri Conservation Area, The Lindis has tailored its activities to make the most of its enviable location, bringing guests up close to its rugged wilderness. For keen anglers, it’s one of the best locations for fly fishing in the world, while also offering premier cycling, hiking and skiing experiences. Waking up to a blue sky and fresh dusting of snow on the peaks, we start the day o cruising down the road on e-bikes, cycling past the woolshed where farmers are rounding up sheep to be sheared. Soon, we arrive at the stables for our guided horse trek. With little experience on horseback, our jitters are quickly put at ease as our friendly guide kindly walks us through the basics, then leads us on a gentle horse trek around a lake.
Those keen on an active holiday can take advantage of the many trails around the lodge. Deciding to make the most of the good weather, we hike up to the top of Ben Avon Peak. A short but steep trail through tussock ends with panoramic views. From this vantage point, more of the valley is revealed, and you see how the river snakes its way through the valley, with ponds dotting the landscape like little mirrors.
A far more luxurious and less strenuous way to take in the views from up high is on a helicopter trip. The Lindis team can organise all manner of helicopter adventures, ranging from scenic flights taking you to secret waterfalls, heli-skiing, and even the chance to visit the famous Bad Decision whisky bar, a mountain-top hut stocked with fine whiskies from around the world. If you’d rather sit back, relax and relish the indulgence, treat yourself to a massage in the lodge’s spa, or unwind in the hot tub. The lounge is a great place to retire with a cup of tea and a round of pool.
FINE DINING IN THE HIGH COUNTRY
After a day in the great outdoors, or relaxing in the lodge, dinner is a literal feast. Inspired by the abundance of natural produce in the surrounding area, Head Chef Dane Archery has designed a menu that champions local producers and farmers, served in a contemporary and refined way.
Each evening meal begins with canapés and cocktails, before we sit down for a five-course tasting menu, which is ever-changing and tailored to each guest’s preferences. It’s duck shooting season, so for our first night we enjoy duck with fresh sourdough and duck liver parfait, oyster mushrooms, seasonal celeriac, and to finish, roasted pear souffle.
Night two is a seafood spectacle, with sweet crayfish, delicate salmon and perfectly-cooked squid. Dinner can be matched with fine wines from the cellar, with The Lindis stocking a carefully curated selection of local and international drops.
THE LITTLE THINGS
In between the many moments of awe, what I find most impressive about our stay at The Lindis are the many thoughtful touches. A soothing aroma spritzed in the room in the evening, water left by the bedside table before sleep – it’s clear that the team are experts in making guests feel completely taken care of.
“The Lindis experience extends far beyond the threshold of our doors and is entirely underpinned by our warm high country hospitality,” remarks Hudson.
“We use nature as our weathervane, and so when we see the effortless perfection of our environment, we are implored to emulate it.”
Like the landscape, everything is seamless, every piece coming together to create something spectacular.