Split Apple Lodge Magic
Every time we go on holiday my husband and I fantasise about what it would be like to move there.
To live there full time. To quit the rat race, ditch the city for a quieter life and have a lifestyle somewhere else.
From Taupo to Tauranga, Nelson to Noosa. Even following family traditions and moving further away to fabulous Fiji or the Cooks, we’ve considered it.
And who knows, one day we may actually do it. It takes a lot of gumption. A lot of guts. And a lot of consideration. The idea is always quite romantic, but like my Mum always cautions when she hears us weighing up the pros and cons of the place we’re currently in, when we do this, we’re often on holiday!
Chances are there’s no washing to be done, we’re largely eating out, and there’s no work or school, just play.
But looking at the lifestyle Fran & Daniel Huelsmeyer have created for themselves with their adorable twin boys Emil & Anton at Split Apple Lodge in Kaiterteri, I reckon that doesn’t matter.
They’ve ditched the (Auckland) rat race and thrown themselves fully into running their own Lodge in the heart of the Abel Tasman.
Leaving behind the traffic and corporate careers for a lifestyle based B&B style lodge means there’s time for the little things. Feeding the pigs. Re-tiling a downstairs apartment. Plenty of time to do the washing, make sour dough bread, and just breathe. There’s no chance of loneliness, they have a house load of guests (and friends and family from far and wide) who line up to visit them.
The lodge is fabulous. Large enough to have space from others, but intimate enough if you’re looking for good company or travelling as a group of young families as we were.
There are 6 double rooms, three with mountain views and three that look out to the deep blue sea, the latter boasting beautiful balconies for a perfect start to the day – a cup of tea in hand as the sun comes up.
It’s an incredible part of the world. The more adventurous and energetic of our group (i.e. the Dads) run each morning, in the nearby hills and down to the famous Split Apple rock.
The rest of us (Mums and kids) take things a little slower, playing endless games of cards and packing lunches for the full days activities ahead.
The entrance to the Abel Tasman is mere minutes away from the lodge. Whether it's by water taxi or a tour from nearby Marahau, or the kayaking adventures that leave from Kaiterteri beach. The dolphins await.
The lodge has a massive shared kitchen with microwave and fridge plus everything you need to rustle up a quick bite to eat after a day on the water. We find the incredible breakfast put on by Fran & Daniel is the best start to the day and wonderfully included in our nightly tariff.
Prior to arriving we have done very little research into what to do in the area, we relied heavily on the advice of Fran & Daniel who’ve been here for over a year now, and they didn’t put us wrong.
A water taxi and day trip up to Awaroa Bay, the “people’s bay” that NZer’s crowd-funded to keep is absolutely magic. It’s October, and the water is 14 degrees but it’s too beautiful not to swim in. Even wee Freddie gets his feet wet.
We knew it would be beautiful. We didn’t expect it to be magic. We come across a huge pod of dolphins that stick with us playfully for about an hour. We squeal as much as the kids as they put on the most majestic display. I ask our water taxi driver if this is normal, if he’s bored. Absolutely not. We’ve hit a cracker of a day. They swam right next to the boat, dived above us and provided us with photo opportunities that even the most seasoned wild life photographer would be envious of.
We see seals, shags, stingrays and sunshine that nourishes the soul and keeps the kids fully engaged. We plan to head out again and Fran recommends Stew Robertson and his Abel Tasman Eco tour.
It’s a full day out on his boat and we take the baby who despite my initial reservations takes it all in his stride.
Stew’s knowledge of the area is incredible and he makes a great cuppa and cake to enjoy on yet another beautiful beach.
At the end of each day we return to the lodge for a hot shower and, once the kids are in bed, settle in for some heated games of scrabble or last card before turning in excitedly anticipating what the next day will bring.
We are loath to leave the immediate area, but there’s just so much to see. We salmon fish in Takaka, head to the Mussel Inn for a step back in time and it’s all just fantastic. It’s an active holiday but what a chance to see our beautiful country.
We loved this trip, and the lodge was just the perfect base for our 3 families.
We’ll be back to visit, again and again, while it’s the kind of place I’d love to live, we won’t need to move as Fran and Daniel have made this the perfect home away from home.