We look forward to welcoming you to The Retreat

outside dining lake pukaki accommodation mt cook accommodation Lake tekapo

After a busy corporate life in Wellington (New Zealand's capital city), we wanted to get closer to the land and simplify our lives. Our dream to create a retreat that we could enjoy with our family and friends.  A long search took us to the Mackenzie Basin where, in 2010, we fell in love with this piece of paradise. With clear air, plenty of land to produce our own food, pure artesian water and magnificent views we chose this location to build our dream.  It took us 18 months to gain approval to build on this special site and in November 2011 we began to lay the foundations for Pukaki Homestead.

It was our intention that the buildings at the Retreat be 'crafted' rather than 'constructed' and we wanted to be part of this as much as possible.  So in September 2012 we moved from Wellington to live onsite, building the The Musterers Hut (close to the hot tub at Pukaki Homestead) as our sleeping hut. 

What is now the Garden Shed was our kitchen, dining and living room and we constructed an outside toilet, bath and shower. Living in true pioneering spirit for 8 months, we set about crafting Pukaki Homestead and clearing trees in order to landscape the environment. With no water onsite and very little rainfall, we needed to secure a good artesian water supply.   

The location for the drill site was determined by a water diviner, and in December 2011 we engaged a drilling company to start drilling our water well.  We hit an artesian stream at 100m below the surface which now provides crystal clear drinking water.  

The water you drink here is good quality artesian water and is pure with no additives. 

The Mackenzie Basin has four dramatic seasons: roaringly hot in Summer (it can get up to 40 degrees); cool, crisp and still with autumnal colours in Autumn; clear blue skies with occasional snow and freezing temperatures (as low as -9 degrees celcius) in Winter; and restless changeable weather that brings a green tinge to the land in Spring.  Because of this we wanted an architectural solution that would create a comfortable well ventilated home without the need for a lot of heating and cooling apparatus. 

The Mackenzie High Country has low humidity and enjoys a lot of sun both in winter and in summer. We liked the concept of a thermally passive home and designed both the Villa and the Homestead to maximise warmth from the sun in winter and minimise heat from the sun in the summer.  Thick 600mm walls, tiled floors and concrete walls trap heat from the sun in winter.  In the Homestead, this is supplemented by a large wood gasification boiler which heats the water for domestic use and the underfloor heating system in winter. The large open fire and a solar panel which heats the water both in summer and winter.  Winters here are warm, cosy with lots of opportunities to toast marshmallows around the fire! 

In summer the buildings are positioned to receive limited sun, they are like a pavilion with pure fresh cool air circulating naturally.

We finished Pukaki Homestead in October 2013 and began to welcome guests from all over the world in November 2013.  

Then it was time to turn to the second stage of our dream, The Ashley Mackenzie Retreat and private spa, which is sited on the cliffs overlooking Lake Pukaki.   The Villa utilises the same design principles and quality decor of the Homestead and is packed with luxury fittings and delightful details.  We wanted the Villa to live up to it's surroundings, and be a truly luxurious stay in pure paradise.  To complete the Villa we included the private Fantail Spa for exclusive use by guests.  The Villa was offically opened for guests in November 2014.

It has been fun extending the facilities of the Retreat to include the tennis court, observatory, wine cellar, petanque court, memorial garden and walking tracks. We recommend at least a 2 night stay to make the most of these facilities.

Luke and I have travelled extensively throughout New Zealand and the world discovering a passion for learning about different cultures and lifestyles. The influence of these experiences is expressed in the architecture and opportunities that the Retreat provides.  We offer genuine Kiwi hospitality and our garden to plate menus feature local wine and produce.  The decor in the Homestead and Villa is fresh, luxurious and elegant and features both New Zealand and international works of art.

Welcome to pure paradise!


Your stay here is a chance to relax and take time out from a busy lifestyle full of distractions.  
We have created an opportunity for you to visit us, to relax, to rejuvenate and to simply be.
We are looking forward to sharing this special piece of pure paradise with you.