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“Amazing, amazing, amazing place”
Review of Te Nikau Retreat

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Te Nikau Retreat
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 5, 2009

This is the most amazing place.

My description won't do the lodge justice. But it's perhaps the best backpacker's accommodation I've ever seen, and I was sorry not to be able to stay there much longer.

Set in an area of rainforest between the main road and the sea, you drive 100m down a dirt track to get there, and find a small parking area, the reception, and a communal lodge with kitchens, internet access, etc. The guy in reception, evidentally the manager, was helpful, not hugely friendly but not unfriendly; there were many nice touches around the place, and a couple of Buddhas too, and it felt these were probably from his wholehearted investment in maintaining it. The main lodge contained a lounge, a well-appointed kitchen with cutlery/pan sets, and a small essentials shop. They bake fresh home-made muffins and bread in the oven every morning - a beautiful touch (that day's flavour was Chocolate Chip). All payment for the above was into an open jar, or to a Buddha statue - trust is intrinsic to this place. There are no locks on any lodges or bedroom doors either.

However, when we went hunting for our room, we realised how special it was.

You walk to the corner of the main lodge, and find an entrance into the rain forest. Walking down narrow gravel paths, you follow signs at small junctions until you find your own lodge; ours was Te Nikau, which I guess could be the original building - I've no idea. Walking to the lodge was around 100m, winding uphill and downhill, and in one case past a small pond with a bamboo water feature, all well maintained.

I've no idea what the other lodges were like, but ours was... well, a wooden lodge, of the type you'd expect to find in a rain forest. I can only compare it to my own experiences, the closest of which would be of the old Hollywood/Pinewood Studios WW2 movies set in the Pacific. Walking up onto the decking around the outside, past various easy chairs, and into the lodge itself, we found the entire lower floor is a lounge area, with two sets of sofas, dining table, and kitchen area. There was a spice rack, complete with around 20-30 different dried herbs and spices. There were full matching sets of glasses, mugs, crockery, knife sets, wine glasses - all in excellent condition - better than we have at our own house. There was even an Aga stove - perhaps useful during the winter months. Off the kitchen and a utility area, were two bathrooms and showers, one with a bath(!)

Upstairs, were two double rooms, and a dorm room with 4 single beds around the outside. Our large double was around 5mx4m, with wardrobe, bedside lamp and table, desk, comfortable double bed, nice carpet, and plush red duvet.

There was no TV, and to be honest, surrounded by all this you'd be mad to want one - but there were plenty of board games in the lounge. Certainly, in such surroundings, it's impossible not to talk to your housemates, and hopefully get on with them. Having said that, there was still good, fast, reliable IAC Wireless Internet in the main reception/lodge area, and Skype worked fine (luckily, since there's no cellular coverage within 50km).

There's apparently a lovely walk down to the beach, and also a few other walks around the area - as well as the Pancake Rocks around a mile south as well. Sandflies are apparently vicious close to the beach, but not so bad in the lodge - certainly we weren't bitten that night. There's not much else around though - no attractions, shops, petrol stations, etc. - just the info centre and cafe by the pancake rocks, and the Seal Colony 75km north. Still, if you want a place to rest up, read, meet people, or contemplate your navel, then this is the one.

There is also the Stargazer's Lodge - actually, just a double bed in what looks a little like an oversized kennel :-) It's in its own spot, with its own path, with a clearing overhead so that you can lie back and, well, gaze at the stars. For this, the first 1/4 of the roof is glass-paned. We did try to book it, but the manager advised us not to as it would be overcast (and it was :-( ).

The one big downer was when we looked in our room bin; it hadn't been emptied since the last guests, and of all the things to find in an unemptied bin, the two used condoms we saw in there were not the best. Hopefully this was just a one-off exception, as the excellent care and attention in everything else was apparent. I would also speculate that by encouraging or expecting such trust in their visitors, the owners get less damage, breakages or theft in return.

Overall - this is a fantastic place. Wear yourself out at Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, or wherever else, and then stop by here and allocate a few days to sit, read, write, walk, eat the muffins, get your internet news fix if you need it, and enjoy the surroundings. You picture the superrich staying in such places in the Americas, paying a fortune for it, and the only difference between their resort and this place would be a lack of flatscreen entertainment systems and, white-jacketed butlers gliding around with Pina Coladas.

  • Stayed: February 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank damoske
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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179 - 185 of 222 reviews

Reviewed January 29, 2009

This is an absolutely stunning place. Right inside the rainforest and a short walk from a stunning beach. We visited in winter and there were spectacular breakers crashing onto the rocks. (that possibly isn't winter-specific, warning signs were up)

The hostel is divided into different houses, each with 4/5 rooms. Ours was opposite reception and we had a beautiful room upstairs. The house was large and beautifully done out, lovely warm-looking living room and great kitchen. Washer/driers outside under a covered wood porch.

The amazing thing is, the place is a hostel - with hostel prices- but when I first saw it my first thought was, I'd pay serious money to stay in a place like this. Remarkable.

  • Stayed: August 2007, traveled with friends
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Thank ejoch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 21, 2008

I stayed here for one night and it truely was a great experience. I stayed in the little corrugated iron double-bed hut thats near the main house. Its a bit draughty and smells a little bit but it was as cosy as you like and I slept so so well. (Though going to the toilet in the middle of the night involves making your way in the dark to the main house so you might want to stay there either.)

The main house had one of the comfiest and cosiest and cleanest kitchens I've had the pleasure of using on my travels and the sittingroom area is a pleasure to relax in (though theres no telly.) And please make sure to try to DELICIOUS muffins served up daily for a mere $2!!

The retreat has a shortcut to the Trueman Track down to the back where you can see stunning views of the coastline and also witness spectacular sunsets if you're lucky. Well worth the minute walk.

With a lovely lovely staff and fantastic surroundings I would highly recommend staying in Te Nikau!

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled solo
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Thank intrepudtraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2008

Te Nikau Retreat is a great place to relax. The rooms are set within the rainforest surrounding Punakaiki. Each has a unique theme and are very comfortable (see photos).

It is about 500m walk to the beach through the rainforest track. The main beach has some great sandstone formations. The main attraction however is the Pancake Rocks, about 1km away.

The hotel staff are very attentive, and supplied us with a carton of milk and a loaf of bread on arrival. You can also borrow bikes and other gear very cheaply.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank drinky_canberra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 15, 2008

We stayed one night at the Tui cottage at Te Nikau Retreat. It was one of the coolest and most unique lodgings we had while on a 2 week holiday in New Zealand, and the rate was reasonable! They have several rustic units of various bedding, bath, & kitchen configurations scattered throughout a little section of the rainforest between the main highway and the beach. (Some of the units are only accessible via short, maintained trails.) A Track nearby leads to a secluded beach, and a friendly resident Weka makes it's rounds, visiting the cottages! Great stopover if you're driving from Fox/Franz Josef to the Nelson rarea.

Thank Sproketz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 5 weeks ago
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  • Stayed: August 2017, traveled as a couple
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Thank Proeme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TeNikauRetreat, Manager at Te Nikau Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

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Reviewed August 16, 2017 via mobile
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Stayed: August 2017, traveled as a couple
Thank kilik82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TeNikauRetreat, Manager at Te Nikau Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

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Additional Information about Te Nikau Retreat

Address: 19 Hartmount Place, Punakaiki 7873, New Zealand
Location: New Zealand > South Island > West Coast Region > Punakaiki
Amenities:
Beach Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 7 Specialty Lodging in Punakaiki
Price Range: $43 - $100 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Te Nikau Retreat 2*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Unique hostel with all home comforts, lodges and cottages nestled in the native rainforest. Excellent place to relax ~ restore ~ explore. Beautiful beaches,river walks, horse trekking, kayaking close-by. Bread/muffins available for sale. FREE UNLIMITED WIFI is available in all rooms of the retreat. 3kms north of the Pancake Rocks, sign on main road Motel - Homestay - Backpackers indicates turn off. Book your Intercity Bus to the Truman Track (TRT) and you'll be only meters away from Te Nikau. ... more   less 
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