Fancy staying somewhere a bit different? From jailhouses to castles, New Zealand is a country full of quirky and unusual places to stay. Here’s seven of the best around New Zealand’s South Island that are historic, romantic, and a little bit bonkers.
Spend the night in jail
A prime example of ‘Gothic Revival’ architecture, this 1876 building has a colorful history. Designed by Christchurch architect Benjamin W Mountfort, it was the original Addington Prison – a lock-up for local crime-lords and petty criminals. But it’s had quite a transformation since then and these days the only people who enter it’s doors these days are tourists looking for somewhere cheap to lay their head.
The new owners have tried to maintain the authentic prison atmosphere. Four cells, including the solitary confinement cell, are still in their original condition, with prisoner’s artwork decorating the walls. The rest of the rooms have been renovated and are more inviting. Offering comfortable beds (straight from the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games) and a secure and safe environment, the Jailhouse Accommodation is becoming a favorite among travellers, especially those on limited budgets. It might not be your first thought when looking at accommodation in Christchurch, but a night in this jail is not such a bad idea.
Go crazy in a giant’s house
It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an ordinary house. In fact, first time visitors need to ‘be prepared for sensory overload’.
The loud, atmospheric café music that fills the air as you puff your way up the steep driveway and even steeper stairs, gives a small clue as to what’s in store. But it doesn’t really prepare you for that first glimpse of the Giant’s House.
Located in the small harbor town of Akaroa, just 85 kilometers outside Christchurch, New Zealand, the Giant’s House could easily be considered one of the most unusual bed and breakfast in the world.
A castle on a hill
An imposing vision sitting atop a hill on the Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle is infamous for it’s scandalous history and rumors of ghosts. Visitors from around the world – ghost hunters, garden lovers, honeymooners, and travellers – come to see this unique castle and gardens.
You can visit for the day or stay for the night. But with so many ghosts wandering the halls, you’ll be pleased to know the hotel accommodation is not in the Castle itself but in the separate Larnach Lodge. Built in 1982, it features 12 individually decorated rooms, all with panoramic views of the harbor. While breakfast is served in the adjacent converted stables, you can arrange to have dinner in the castle’s main dining room. Who knows, you might even end up with a ghostly guest or two.
Fall asleep in paradise
Quirky and eccentric is the only way to describe the Little Paradise Lodge, located alongside Lake Wakatipu on the road to Glenorachy. There’s a rambling garden full of odd, entertaining, and down right confusing sculptures. And the thatched roof guesthouse features uniquely decorated rooms with names such as Whispering Swan, Running Deer, and Singing Frogs.
Take a nap in a boot
From the outside The Boot looks like something you’d find in a children’s picture book or at Disneyland. Hidden amongst a grove of hazelnut trees, all that’s missing is the fairytale characters.
But inside, it has all the fixings for old-fashioned romance, complete with an open fire, a winding staircase and balcony.
Located at the top of the South Island in the Tasman Region, a mere 30 minutes from the Abel Tasman National Park, it’s a perfectly unique place to relax and unwind.
Sleep with your head in the clouds
Only a few miles north of Kaikoura, whale watching capital of New Zealand, is Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses. Built in a manuka grove at treetop level, each of the five tree houses offers a bird’s eye view of mountains and sea and all things in between.
Climb aboard a wagon
Go back in time and experience pioneer life with a stay in an early settlers wagon, complete with outdoor bath and cookhouse area, at Canterbury’s Wagon Stays.
(photo @Liz Lewis 2013)