15 January 2018
Better than camping under canvas and “more romantic than an ordinary hotel” is how Te Wepu owners Kate and Richie Bocock describe their new business.
Te Wepu is a historic rural property at French Farm on the western side of Akaroa Harbour on Banks Peninsula, roughly an hours’ drive from Christchurch.
The Bococks bought the 30-hectare property in 2016 and, while taking in the “incredible” views while working on the farm (they run 50 cattle), quickly realised it would be a great spot for some secluded, off-the-beaten-track accommodation.
The aim with Te Wepu’s double-glazed, New Zealand-made sleeping pods was to combine "a little bit of adventure" with "a decent dose of luxury".
“We wanted to create a space for tourists that would showcase a unique side of New Zealand and for it to be an experience that people would fondly remember for years,” Kate says.
“We saw the pods at the A&P show in Ashburton and they immediately ticked all the boxes."
Visitors stay in wooden pods at three sites on the property, which has been farmed by various owners since 1843. Each site has two pods; a sleeping pod, which sleeps two, and a “utility pod” which includes an eco-friendly toilet.
There’s also a wood-fired hot tub, fire pit, gas fridge, WiFi and camping facilities at each site, including a gas BBQ and fresh water.
The sleeping pod sites are strategically positioned out of sight and sound from each other amid kanuka bush.
Access is via a 15-minute hike through a rhododendron dell, a walnut grove, a stream and farmland – or guests can hitch a ride in the Bococks’ 4WD.
Guests’ meals are self-catered or they can order hampers offering "the best of the peninsula" – from seafood caught by Richie and meat from the farm to Kate’s home-baked bread, local cheese, pickled gherkins and fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Given enough warning, visitors can even arrive to a warm hot tub.
“The hot tubs are a hit. One of Richie’s main issues is telling guests how to use the hot tub because when they get to the site they are fully distracted by the view and the surrounds.
"We’ve had to put special instructions in the pod and just leave them to it.”
Kate says they’ve tried to limit the pods’ environmental impact with solar power and use of waterless (and odourless) composting Bioloos.
“We feel like caretakers of Te Wepu and have a responsibility to do our best for the people who have had it before us."
Future plans for the property include growing avocados, with 80 trees on the way this spring, and honey production.
Te Wepu is an hours’ drive from Christchurch, a 20-minute drive from Akaroa and a three-minute drive from the French Farm and Wainui turnoff at Barry’s Bay.
Follow the signs from the Barry’s Bay turn-off and drive up to the end of Bantry Lodge Road. Kate and Richie will meet you, show you where to park your car and the adventure will begin.
Guests can also hike to the top of the farm on a well-marked track to enjoy the panoramic views of Akaroa Harbour, Onawe Peninsula and French Farm Valley.