FOR MY FULL TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE NORTH ISLAND CLICK HERE
Hidden in picturesque Tuki Tuki Valley, tucked between Hawke's Bay's wine country and the rolling green hills of Mata Peak is where you'll find Tom's Cottages - the North Island's greatest hidden gem. While I absolutely love a five star hotel and amenities at my fingertips, there's something so beautiful and so innate about sneaking away to enjoy some peace and quiet out in nature and that's exactly what Tom's Cottages provides its guests. Without the hassle of camping or roughing it in some sketchy digs or having to drive miles from civilization to find privacy, Tom's Cottages offers two fully equipped, self catering cabin suites (Big Tom's Cottage & Tom's Cottage) set far apart on a large open property, surrounded by nothing but nature - I promise you there's not a high rise or building in sight! With everything you would need to build a warm fire, pour a few glasses of wine, put on a romantic comedy and snuggle on the couch while listening to the birds and the wind outside, there's truly no better place to relax and unwind than Tom's Cottages.
Towards the end of our New Zealand journey and after spending three glorious nights at one of the world's most luxurious lodge's in the world, we were ready to shut off from society for a little while. Less than 30 minutes drive from Napier and in the center of the region's most popular wineries is where Tom's Cottages reside. Even though it's just a 10 minute drive from the quaint town of Havelock North where you can find grocery stores, posh boutiques and fine dining restaurants, you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere as you pull up the drive to the main house.
Van and Linda Howard are the owners and hosts of Tom's Cottages (Van is the front of the house, endearing storyteller and Linda is the decorator and brilliance behind the scenes) and their house is just a 2 minute drive away down the road. After meeting at their home, Van had us follow him in our car to Big Tom's Cottage where we were staying, handed us the large, metal, medieval key (making it that much more exciting!) showed us around and disappeared back to his house (which is nowhere in sight even though it's just a few minutes away), never to be seen again while being only a phone call away if we needed anything.
Big Tom's Cottage is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath bungalow that perfectly fits two couples or a single family. While the cottage itself is from the 1940's and still retains its rustic charm, it has been fully renovated to include all of the modern luxuries you'd need to completely relax without a care in the world. The cottage includes everything you would expect from a normal hotel like large comfortable beds, bathroom necessities as well as wifi, flat screen tv, dvd player and electric heating throughout, with the added bonus of a fully equipped kitchen including a dishwasher, stocked with breakfast basics like bacon from the butcher, fresh eggs, homemade bread, yogurt, tea and coffee. Some added bonuses include private parking, an open back patio and BBQ, outdoor wood fire bathtub (ultimate romance for those warm summer nights), washer and dryer, fireplace and even dvds and games so you never have to leave. What more could you want?
After checking in, we decided to make our way to Havelock North for dinner. Van suggested that we eat at Pipi Cafe, the well known eclectic, pink Italian local favorite and we were so glad that we did. The pizza and meatball pasta were both delicious and the pepper calamari was cooked and seasoned to perfection. We decided to stop at the grocery store for some Hokey Pokey ice-cream to bring back to the house (a vanilla based, honeycomb flavor - a New Zealand staple that's hard to find anywhere else in the world). We then headed back to our secluded cabin, put on our pajamas, lit a fire, snuggled up with a blanket and our tub of ice-cream and watched Notting Hill - seriously the best escape I could possibly ask for.
The next morning we made ourselves a scrumptious breakfast feast; which I have to tell you, was wonderful after 3 weeks of having to get ready each morning to go to a dining room and be served. I know, I know, first world problems, but it was so refreshing to make our own food. I then wandered around the property and was amazed at the morning views, the complete solitude and silence except for the large amount of wildlife that was flourishing all around us. I saw more birds never leaving the backyard than I had the entire time in New Zealand, it was truly incredible. Everything in me wanted to stay another week, but all we had was that day so I tried to take in every ounce of it.
We reluctantly headed back to the main house, handed Van our key, said a tearful goodbye and drove away far sooner than we ever wanted to. The next time we are in New Zealand, there is no doubt that we will be back for a much longer stay at this fabulous hidden haven.
Here's a link to the Tom's Cottages website: Click Here
FOR EVEN MORE, REMEMBER TO CHECK OUT MY FULL TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE NORTH ISLAND HERE