We thought we’d made a horrible decision as we pried ourselves away from the Sans Souci Inn in Golden Bay. There were three nights left in our holiday, and we’d booked a stay at Hopewell Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds… a 5.5 hour drive away. The sun was shining and our kayaks were beckoning – should we cancel Hopewell and just stay in Golden Bay? After seriously considering staying put, we decided to charge on and began to make our way over Takaka Hill, a grumpy Tyson at the wheel (he really didn’t want to leave!).
It was Anzac Day and shops weren’t open until 1pm. We arrived at the Pak N’ Save in Richmond just before the doors opened and people were lining up already – as with most holidays when the supermarket isn’t open per usual, it was like the apocalypse was near! This didn’t help Tyson’s grumpiness in the slightest.
A 45-minute frenzied shop secured all of our supplies for the next few days (food, and plenty of cider and wine) and we continued on towards the Sounds.
At Havelock, the Greenshell Mussel capital of NZ, I hopped into the driver’s side – and we began the long, winding drive through the Kenepuru Sound.
About two and a half hours later, and still wondering if we’d made the right decision, we landed upon Hopewell at sunset. As we set our eyes upon the lush surroundings, the summer camp vibes, and the layers of mountains beyond the calm waters of the sound, we instantly realised that our hesitations were remiss – Hopewell is simply a dream come true.
You can spend your time at Hopewell relaxing, or partaking in the many on-site activity options – or even better, try a mixture of both chilling and adventuring. We spent our three days at Hopewell in absolute bliss – it’s quite possibly the best place we’ve ever stayed at, in New Zealand or elsewhere.
Hopewell’s own website has tons of information for you to plan your trip, but here’s a little rundown on what you might want to know about this amazing place:
The location: You’ll find Hopewell in a remote, serene part of the Kenepuru Sound. With lush grounds and views of the water all-around, the property is simply stunning.
Getting there: The remote location means that it takes a bit of planning to get there. It’s all worth it, though!
By car: From Havelock, it takes about 2.5 hours via car to get to Hopewell, even though distance-wise it’s super close. Havelock is about 45 minutes from Picton or an hour from Nelson – so you’re looking at over 3 hours of driving time no matter where you’re coming from. We drove the whole way and I quite enjoyed the long, winding road trip filled with gorgeous views, but it may not be for everyone – for example, some parts of the road are unsealed, and are meant to be two lanes but are really more like one.
By boat: For a quicker option, you can arrange for the Hopewell boat to pick you up from Te Mahia Bay, which is only 45 minutes by car from Havelock on a sealed road. This costs $50 per adult, return, and the boat ride takes about 15 minutes. Contact Hopewell to book this ahead of time.
The accommodation and facilities: Hopewell offers a range of accommodation options, from backpacker’s rooms, to cabins with shared bathroom/kitchen facilities, to a cottage that’s entirely self contained. It all depends on what your budget will allow and whether you feel like meeting other travellers, or if you feel like some solitude. We stayed in a cabin at first, then moved to the cottage – both were absolutely perfect.
The shared kitchen is spacious and well-equipped; there are plenty of stovetops and food prep surfaces, and a couple of ovens. There’s a lounge attached to the kitchen with seating, games and a cosy fireplace. Everyone at Hopewell seems so happy and friendly and you just might make some new friends in the shared areas – or enjoy a pancake breakfast as we did, gifted from other guests who made too much (complete with bananas and bacon).
The activities: This is the best part about Hopewell if you ask us! The activity options here are seemingly endless. You can spend your days choosing from the following –
- Kayaking & paddle boarding
- Foraging for mussels
- Soaking in the waterfront hot tub
- Golfing at the nearby 9-hole course
- Lounging in hammocks
- Looking for glow worms and bioluminescence in the water at night (so magical – you must do both of these things if you’re there!)
You can rent kayaks/paddle boards, dinghy boats, fishing gear and bikes for a very reasonable fee – and green fees at the golf course are just $15 (which I know my dad would be wild about). All of the other activities are entirely free – including collecting your own green lipped mussels, fresh from the source!
Unfortunately when we were there, there was a toxic shellfish warning in the area and we couldn’t collect mussels. This rarely ever happens though – and we can’t wait to go back and enjoy a hand-harvested mussel feast.
We have our own kayaks that we were toting along, so took those out one day for the most amazing little afternoon trip – we kayaked from Hopewell to a sandy, sunny beach across the way (where you can camp, actually!), and brought a picnic and some wine. It was one of the best days ever.
The hosts: The owners and hosts of Hopewell, Mike and Lynley, are simply the most kind and accommodating people on earth. They welcome you to their beautiful property with open arms and are happy to answer any questions about the activities on offer and the area in general. You’ll feel right at home at Hopewell.
What to bring: You’ll want to bring everything you need for the length of your stay, as Hopewell is far from any supermarkets or other shops. This includes the following:
- All of the food and drinks you’ll want for your stay (except for water – there’s plenty of fresh water there)
- All of the clothing you might want, including some light layers for sunny days and warm layers for cool evenings
- A swimsuit & beach towel
- Hiking boots or sturdy sneakers
- A headlamp or torch
Maybe bring a bit of extra food/drinks – because you just might decide to spend an extra day or two once you can’t pry yourself away.
Speaking of food, you can also purchase a homemade pizza handmade by Mike and Lynley, or some fresh bread or eggs from their chickens. We had one of their pizzas and it was so good – enjoyed with some new friends at the shared alfresco table, it was a perfect way to spend an evening.
We truly cannot recommend this place enough – we loved our visit and are dreaming of when we can go back.
Whether you’re wanting an adventurous holiday filled with outdoor activities or a peaceful, beautiful place to clear your mind, Hopewell is an incredible getaway. Our #1 suggestion is to make sure you spend at least three nights there – because we can almost guarantee you won’t want to leave.