Patrick and Amber Tyrell are entrepreneurs inspired by their travels, and their life experiences. Now, sitting comfortably in their ‘off-the-grid’ homestead, in New Zealand’s Waitaki Valley, with a grownup young family, their vision for the future, personally and ecologically, is coming to fruition. Philosophies deeply entrenched in ecology and conservation are key drivers in the farming and tourism activities of these two ‘ultra-enthusiastic’ kiwis, who have treasured the concepts of a ‘good life’ style, self-sufficient lifestyle ever since meeting in the Mediterranean region all those years ago, but as Amber put it, “It really does seem like only yesterday, it’s been such a roller-coaster ride, but it’s brought us here,” as she gestures out to the green valley below, with the ubiquitous Waitaki River in the distance, lying in the crook of the Station Peak Hills and the Waitaki Valley, and overlooked by the stunning Southern Alps.
Valley Views Glamping is a new, different and somewhat inspired luxury camping experience, significantly inspired by a stay at the Lalibela Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth, in 2016, where tourists stay in glamorous African décor inspired hunting lodges, coddled by warm beds, hot showers, and dining and cuisine experiences that leave a lasting impression.
“At least,” said Patrick, “It left a lasting impression on me, and for weeks and months afterwards, I couldn’t get visions of transplanting the same experience into a unique New Zealand environment.”
Convincing Amber came easy, given they have similar ‘green, people-of-the-earth’ philosophies, and coming home soon after, the couple were delighted to secure a 40-hectare property near other family in the Haka Valley. Here, the couple have created not only a tasteful family home which incorporates environmentally friendly materials and solar power, but continued the theme in building a stunning tourist lodge, cabins and their ‘pieces-de-resistance,’ Mongolian Lotus Bell Tent, overnight accommodations.
These Lotus Bell Tents are inspired by the skin clad, portable, round tents used by the nomads of Central Asia. Think of the great Khans like Kublai and Genghis Khan and you have an idea of their construction, strong, but light, and easy to heat. Patrick sourced his geodesic (triangular polyhedron) structure domes overseas, and the resultant accommodations are not only functional and different, but offer a whole new vision of the valley views that have imbued their new venture with an ageless pioneer spirit.
Clad in an ultra-tough, hard-wearing material, the entire wall on the ‘downhill’ or valley side of the domed structure reveals the majestic beauty of this South Island paradise, unspoiled by the rampant commercialism of many other tourist ventures. The quality, colours and nature of the ever-changing panoramic views are dictated only by the sun, the moon, clouds, rain, thunder and lightning, and yes, we experienced all of these over the course of our one-night stay. It was amazing! If this was the couple’s intention, and their way of sharing New Zealand’s ‘100% Pure’ image, I’m certainly convinced.
South African born Patrick, and New Zealander Amber, had previously shared a wealth of natural, tourist and cultural experiences across the globe prior to settling in ‘the Haka,’ and managing a farming operation while raising their son, and three daughters. “This lifestyle, that we have so much fun sharing with others, was a risk, but we feel vindicated when we see families sharing their experiences, and their meals together, in the lodge building, kids running and playing in the forest, it just surpasses all we ever wanted to achieve here,” says Amber.
A new innovation are the open-air private baths, with amazing Victorian claw-footed baths, taking you back to nature in a genuinely raw, natural state. You can stargaze on a cloudless night, enjoy a barbeque with new friends, and celebrate a clean, green, tourist experience in ‘Godzone,’ better known as New Zealand, and for a unique experience, do it in the inspirational Waitaki Valley, at Valley Views Glamping. It’s an incredible venture, and an environmentally sustainable adventure for all the family.
Text by Ray Petersen photos by Lena Petersen