The exclusive luxury accommodation, eco and wildlife experience will launch this summer on a vast high country property near Wanaka, in New Zealand's Southern Lakes region.
Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Homestead & Eco Sanctuary is set on over 550 square km (200 square miles) of South Island high country that extends across four working sheep stations owned by British record producer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange.
Guests at Mahu Whenua will enjoy an exclusive-use hosted stay for a party of up to 12 in rustic yet stylish accommodation and a range of private guided experiences.
Sitting in the hills between the year-round alpine resorts of Wanaka and Queenstown, the vast property combines some of New Zealand’s most outstanding alpine landscapes – mountain ranges, glacial valleys, alpine lakes and rivers, and bush – with the rich heritage and story of not one but four working sheep stations, Motatapu, Mt Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.
The name of Mahu Whenua translates from the original Maori as ‘Healing the Land’, and Lange’s vision is to regenerate the land, introducing sustainable farming practices and an extensive conservation programme based on native plant regeneration and bird breeding.
To date, the conservation programme has been an enormous success. To ensure this continues, more than 90% of the land is protected by covenants (under Queen Elizabeth II Trust), making it the largest conservation undertaking on private land in New Zealand's history.
Now MajorDomo – an award-winning company providing luxury holiday accommodation and concierge experiences around New Zealand – is launching Mahu Whenua to high-end visitors from around the globe.
MajorDomo co-owners Lisa Hayden and Fiona Stevens said it was “an honour to introduce Mutt’s gift to the world to like-minded guests”.
While small areas of the land were currently open to walkers, runners or bikers on high ridge trails, there were tens of thousands of hectares that would only be open to guests, making a truly exclusive and unique experience, Lisa Hayden said.
“After much deliberation, Mutt decided earlier this year to open up the homestead and station to like-minded guests who will now be able to share his vision and the environmental programmes that are in place to preserve and improve this land in perpetuity."
The Ridgeline Homestead has been refurbished as a fully hosted, rustic yet modern lodge which sleeps up to eight guests, together with two separate guest cottages accommodating an additional four guests.
“The beauty of Mahu Whenua," says Fiona Stevens, "is that while it bears all the hallmarks of an extremely remote location, it’s only a fifteen-minute drive out of Wanaka township. Once you’re on the property you are surrounded by rolling vistas, immense mountains, grand rivers and pristine lakes, making it a haven of privacy and exclusivity."
“Guests could revel in this conservation hideaway for the duration of their stay and never see another soul on the property, apart from those who are there to ensure they get the most out of their experience."
All stays will be fully hosted with experienced guides on hand for guided activities, New Zealand chefs to cater exceptional cuisine, and a wine list of the best local wines.
Guided onsite experiences will include horse trekking, overnight stays at shepherds’ cottages around the station, heli-skiing, mountain biking, 4WD adventures, farm tours, picnics alongside pristine alpine rivers, backcountry touring and wellness experiences such as yoga.
Guests will also be encouraged to watch or engage in conservation practices such as replanting areas with native trees, and learn about the native weka and pukeko breeding programmes.
While the four stations have been significantly dedicated to conservation, it remains a working high country sheep station, giving visitors the chance to immerse themselves in farm life.
Mutt said visitors to Mahu Whenua would help accelerate the healing process already taking place on the land after the ravages of grazing, mining and rabbits since the 19th century.
“This was a land that time forgot, but through truly sustainable farming, with economic and ecological elements working in harmony, we’re healing a land that many felt had been lost forever,” he said. “I hope visitors enjoy it as much as I do.”
*Accommodation at Mahu Whenua starts at $15,500 per night, fully hosted and including all meals, staff, guides and a 4WD orientation tour for up to eight people.