Glamping off the grid and off-line

Good editor Carolyn Enting experiences her most magical sleep, glamping at Magic Cottages Takou River. 

There’s something extremely romantic about sleeping outdoors, especially on a balmy night with a gentle breeze caressing your skin as stars twinkle in the sky above – but then you wake up sodden in morning dew with bugs hopping all over you and in full view of fellow campers, which is why the majority choose to tent it instead. Well, glamping at Magic Cottages Takou River takes the indoor/outside experience to a whole new level.

For starters, it’s totally private. There’s just one tent – a beautiful white safari-style tent pitched on a kauri timber floor (the kauri boards salvaged from the 120-year-old Kaikohe Hotel which was dismantled in 2014). The centrepiece – a super king bed – is made up with beautiful white linen and a cosy duvet. No need to draw the curtains here and spoil the view. We slept with the tent open and enjoyed the fresh air, birdsong, and sounds of the river and not-so-distant ocean. There were no mosquitos or sandflies. Bliss. 

One of the best parts of glamping at Takou River is being totally in the moment because this spot on the river doesn’t have phone or internet coverage (unless you make the trek to the Lodge on the farm). It is the ultimate technology escape. Its owners Anna and Ian Sizer are proudly eco-friendly and live off the grid. The glamping site, like their home, is solar powered and rain water harvested while the five-acre organic sub-tropical gardens and 150-acre certified organic farm, which surrounds the cottages and glamping site, is a testament to the biodiversity plans and land management techniques they have implemented. Since buying the land in 2004 they’ve planted more than 20,000 native trees and plants and created a large wetland area, fully fenced and planted with native species. They’ve developed an organic vegetable garden and orchard and they rear free-range organic animals. A bowl of produce – fresh farm eggs, sun-ripened organic tomatoes and sweet plums – is a welcome, welcome gift. 

The glamping experience is the newest addition to Magic Cottages Takou River, which also has four private riverside cottages including Magic Cottage, with views downriver, and Summer Cottage, in a garden setting. Both have outdoor baths and hot running water. Then there’s the Lodge (original homestead) set amongst five acres of native bush and certified organic pasture, and all just a short paddle from Takou Bay.

Glamping at Takou River is self catering (though there is a gourmet breakfast hamper option). Quality provisions can be bought in Kerikeri en route (21km from Takou River) and the separate kitchen/bathroom (a converted garage with an outdoor deck and BBQ) adjacent to the tent, is fully equipped.

We spent a very enjoyable evening cooking on the deck with a glass of wine as the sun went down, but not before visiting stunning Takou Bay – a 25-minute paddle in a canoe from the private jetty in front of the tent. We had the beach all to ourselves too. The river is teaming with fish and fishing rods are supplied. 

After our paddle we rewarded ourselves with a luxurious soak in the outdoor riverside hot tub set under pohutakawa trees beside a splendid swimming hole. At night, glow worms put on a light show here too. There’s also an outdoor bath on the river bank, just along from the jetty, invitingly decorated with floating flowers. Now, that’s romantic! 

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