If you ever get the chance on the West Coast of New Zealand, you must stay and eat at the award winning Te Waonui Forest Retreat. We were greeted with a traditional Maori welcome as soon as we drove up while our car was valet parked.
Our room was decorated beautifully with the most gorgeous view of a forest, hence the name. The bathroom was very spacious with a separate shower, big bath with underfloor heating. Bliss.
We loved having the Nespresso maker in our room and I had the best sleep ever due to the gorgeous bed’s feather-topper. The night turndown service offering us water, chocolates and fresh towels. When we left we got given free water and a clean windscreen. Spoilt.
On the ground floor, you can eat casual with the kids in lovely green natural surroundings. Check out the stunning wee alcove where you can hide from your sins; it’s very churchlike in its design with stunning, colourful stained glass windows (see photo).
They also have the Amaia luxury spa on the ground floor which is spread across three rooms and the smell and decor was stunning. Unfortunately they couldn’t squeeze me in for a pedi as they were chokka.
Upstairs is fine dining in the Canopy restaurant. You can choose the 5 course degustation menu (with our without wine matching) or a la carte. They alternate their menu so that if you are staying more than a night you get to try a different menu. Of course they only showcase fine New Zealand food and wine.
Before we began our experience we were presented with an amuse-bouche; a free dish to get the tastebuds going. It was a small platter of sourdough, olive oil and dukkah, mini pretzels, and cheese. Each course had two options except the main had three. I’m not an oyster fan nor did I want a vege veloute as my first course. I’m a cavewoman. However I opted for the oysters thinking I could pass them to hubby and perhaps eat the octopus and other accompaniments. They arrived decorated with everything on top so I was brave and dug in. To my surprise, the one I had was so delicious as the flavours harmonised nicely with the pickled daikon, anchovy and watercress, octopus tentacle and seaweed caviar. The combo was perfect. Hubby snared my other one.
Next we both chose the seared scallops. You got three small scallops yet they were amazing served with kaffir lime, parsnip, on lemon kelp and pear infused quinoa with a pear wafer.
To refresh the palate we were served an orange with lemon and paeroa sorbet and it was really delicious and attractive; quintessentially a la Kiwi, garnished with a fern.
Three down, two to go. We don’t get hung up on small plates as they are deceptive as being rich, they are satisfying. For my main I chose the corn fed chicken breast with sage butter, potato daupinoise, broccoli puree, glazed carrot, spinach and sourdough sauce. This was divine and a good portion size. Hubby went for grouper with black eyed beans, cherry tomato medly, scampi tail, steamed asparagus with lobster sauce and equally gave it the thumbs up. The third option on the menu was a green pea and roast pumpkin risotto.
Last course we both had to go for the black forest parfait on a bed of honeycomb chocolate soil, blackcurrant coulis and maple walnut icecream. Yummo. It was heavenly decadent. The other option was pumpkin and nutmeg bavarois with macademia dulce icecream and pistachio praline. In hindsight we should have tried one of each.
We drank a fabulous bottle of Rockburn Otago pinot noir throughout the evening and finished with a couple of decaf expressos. Service was fantastic. Not only did Nicholas take extra special care of us throughout the evening but all the staff in the restaurant and the rest of the hotel were so friendly and hospitable.
Breakfast the next day was buffet (or you could choose a la carte). There was a wide range of cereals, fruit, pastries, bacon, black pudding, eggs and we finished with some fab lattes. What a great finish to a fabulous stay here. Fortunately you can walk this all off as there are fabulous activities to do here. Miss you already Te Waonui.