Nestled in the curve of picturesque Pigeon Bay, Annandale is so remote, the best way to get there is via chopper: this wild, windswept corner of New Zealand’s rough-and-ready coast is a truly isolated wonderland. A working farm set along the Banks Peninsula, the estate has four private villas – including a super-modern couples’ escape and a clapboard-clad, 19th-century homestead – which boast sea-facing terraces, open-air firepits and heated pools. By day, go diving, kayaking, hiking and biking in the miles of estate on offer. When the sun dips below the glittering Pacific, take advantage of the first-class stargazing opportunities: lay back on your pillow-strewn deck, cocktail in hand, and gaze up at the heavens. The phrase ‘getting away from it all’ has never felt more apt…
11am. Earliest check-in, noon, but flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £1976.31 (NZ$3,785), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include an in-villa breakfast of fresh fruit, cereal, juices and a farm-to-table cooked option, 'we create, you serve' dinner, and free transfers (excluding the Homestead).
The little cottage where Annandale’s staff live is also home to the hotel’s boutique, a treasure trove of ivory-carved trinkets – credit cards at the ready…
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV with DVD player, iPod dock, air-conditioning (excluding Shepherd’s Cottage, which has a fan), Sonos entertainment system, working fireplace. Kitchens have an oven, hob, microwave, dishwasher, sink, grill and tea- and coffee-making kit.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the four villas has its own distinct style, but all are super-private and set in acres of verdant Kiwi farmland. Couples looking for a secluded escape à deux should go for the one-bedroom Shepherd’s Cottage with its saucy outdoor bath tub; city slickers will feel most at home in the modern, glass-walled Seascape; those with a soft spot for classic history will go wild for the 19th-century Homestead. Bringing your whole entourage? There’s space for 14 at Scrubby Bay, which has its own pebble beach for private picnics.
The Homestead has exclusive use of the Pavilion’s 20-metre heated pool and hot tub, a short walk away through the gardens. Scrubby Bay has its own heated pool and a sea-facing Jacuzzi; Seascape has a hot tub on its balcony.
If you’re staying at the Homestead, there’s a state-of-the-art, glass-walled fitness centre in the Pavilion, boasting high-tech equipment including treadmills, weights and ellipticals. You can even enlist the help of a free personal trainer to put you through your paces. Homestead guests also have private use of the tennis court by the pool if you fancy knocking some balls around; it’s floodlit, so you needn’t pack up your racket when the sun sinks.
You’ll want plenty of outdoorsy gear: padded gilets, knobbly socks and waterproofs in winter; denim shorts and simple tees for hot summer days.
Tech-addicts, be warned: in keeping with Annandale’s philosophy, there’s very little phone reception – no bad thing, but make sure you’re ready for a thumb-scrolling detox.
Adventurous little Smiths of all ages are welcome at Annandale and there’s plenty for them to do, from quad biking to watersports.
Scrubby Bay has its own stretch of pebbly beach, ideal for tiny tots testing their paddling for the first time.
Where to start? There’s plenty to occupy children at Annandale, most of it of an outdoor persuasion: quad biking, hiking and kayaking will amuse older ones; smaller Smiths can explore the working farm or curl up with a DVD from the hotel’s well-stocked kids’ library.
Some of the villas have their own private pool, making them ideal for splashy broods with large pool toy collections.
There’s no specific menu for little ’uns, but Annandale have baby purées and child-friendly snacks available to order to your villa.
Babysitters are available at 24 hours’ notice and cost NZ$30 an hour (for a minimum of two hours).
No need to pack
The hotel can provide travel baby cots, baby bedlinen, highchairs, U-, PG- and 12-rated DVDs, iPads, arts and crafts kit, board games, puzzles, bicycles and helmets.
Annandale lives by a farm-to-fork philosophy, growing as much as possible on site. All the cleaning kit, light bulbs and bath products are ecologically sound, and much of the hotel’s waste is recycled or composted.
Each villa has its own, unique dining spot – but if we had to choose, Seascape’s Pacific-facing outdoor deck (complete with white-padded seats, deck chairs and rustic wooden tables) would be our favourite.
Cashmere pyjamas for cosy suppers by the fire; a printed silk robe for balmy evenings alfresco.
Annandale’s focus is on fresh, local produce (they operate within a 100-kilometre food footprint) and most of it is grown on site – the ‘edible garden’ has around 50 varieties of vegetables and herbs; fruit is hand-picked from heritage trees; wild food is regularly foraged from the bay. As there’s no restaurant at Annandale, guests are served in their villas. Blow-the-budget high-rollers should hire the private chef, who’ll whip up lobster rolls, Za’atar spiced chicken, cherry semifreddo and the ilk on-demand. Alternatively, opt for Annandale’s ‘we create, you serve’ system: a breakfast, hamper-packed picnic lunch and three-course dinner will be delivered to your villa daily – along with instructions on how to prepare it. No need to worry about what’s on the menu: you’ll be sent a food preferences form before you arrive, so the chef can get cracking on your personal favourites.
Every kitchen has its own honesty bar, stocked with local beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks.
Private chef service is available daily from 7.30am–11pm; ‘we create, you serve’ meals are delivered at a time of your choosing.
Annandale is situated on the Banks Peninsula, a rocky, Pacific-facing headland dominated by rugged cliffs, secluded coves and rolling hills.
Most major airlines operate frequent flights to Christchurch International Airport, an hour’s drive from Annandale. The hotel can organise private transfers (from NZ$325, one way).
Christchurch train station (an hour’s drive from the hotel) is well-served by Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine railways; regular services run between several major towns and cities, including Blenheim, Seddon and Kaikoura.
You’ll need a motor – specifically a 4x4 to negotiate Annandale’s tricky terrain – if you don’t want to be stranded at your villa. The hotel has on-site parking and a valet service.
Perhaps the easiest – and snazziest – way to get to Annandale is by helicopter: the hotel can organise a private flight for you (prices start from NZ$825, one way). Call the Smith24 Team for more details.
Worth getting out of bed for
The estate is a working farm; guests can take tours of the land (if you’re lucky, you might catch the sheep shearing), and hike (or bike) the 14km Pigeon Bay walkway. Kayaking or nature cruises on the bay will delight wildlife-watchers, who will be able to spot dolphins, fur seals, blue penguins and bird colonies. On lazier days, take a private cooking class with the Annandale chef to hone your Kiwi cuisine skills, or kick back with a DVD from the hotel’s extensive library. If you’re aching to give your wallet a workout, the French-influenced town of Akaroa nearby is a must-visit. Situated in the centre of an ancient and extinct volcano, now a sparkling bay, this little hub has shops, bistros and water-based diversions including jet-skiing, diving and penguin tours.
Annandale is very isolated, so be aware before you book that the villas are about 45 minutes’ drive away from each other – and that distance again from the local restaurants. This may sound like paradise for some, but it’s not the place for you if you tend to yearn for takeaways at 4am…
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from these super-secluded villas in Pigeon Bay and unpacked their farmyard finds and dolphin-spotting snaps, a full account of their bayside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Annandale in New Zealand’s Pigeon Bay…
‘I vant to be alone,’ Greta Garbo famously drawled in Grand Hotel. It’s a pity the Swedish-American actress never found her way to Annandale, as it would have been right up her (secluded) street: 4,000 acres of velvet-green hills, wide bays and unpopulated farmland make up this Pigeon Bay-based retreat. It’s about as remote as you can get without chartering a spaceship to Mars. You’ll stay in your own villa – complete with super-slick kitchen, pool, hot tub and all the latest mod-cons – with only the sounds of the birds and the waves for company. Of course, the full-time staff (including a private chef, if you like) are on hand whenever you want them. Starting to feel a bit lonely? Never fear: Annandale offers guests plenty of opportunities to get involved – watch the sheep shearing on the farm, hire quad bikes to tear up the rocky bayside routes, or get crafty in the kitchen with a Kiwi cookery class. You may be miles away, but you’ll certainly feel at home.