If you ever make it to New Zealand, I really recommend staying at holiday homes rather than a hostel or a hotel. These turned out to be some of the most memorable parts of my trip- the kind hosts, the hearty homes, the blissful and relaxing surroundings. These holiday homes made the ‘pureness’ in ‘Pure New Zealand’.
Introduction to Donnellys Crossing:
Donnellys Crossing Section was a railway line linking lumber mills in the Kaihu Valley with the port in Dargaville, with Donnellys Crossing being the furthest station from Dargaville (36km away). Even though this Section ceased to operate in 1959, you can still see remnants of it as you drive through Donnellys Crossing.
Introduction to Birdsnest:
Nestled in 35 acres of native bushland, Birdsnest is the ultimate place for some peace and tranquility. It is close to the Waipoua Forest– home to some of the biggest kauri trees in the world (For more information on kauri trees, click here), as well as Trouson Kauri Park– a popular spot for campers, with numerous kauri walkabouts.
But even if you don’t feel like driving out of Birdsnest, there’s still plenty of things to do on this property, such as exploring Birdsnest’s private glow worm cave, relaxing by the river that runs through the property, or go on a night-walk in search for the elusive kiwi birds.
Birdsnest offers two accommodation options: glamping and holiday home. We went with the holiday home, which is attached to the owner Richard’s house. If you are a keen glamper, you’d have to drive over the bridge to get to your campsite, but it also means more possibility to enjoy the quietness and tranquility and more chance to spot some wildlife.
The check-in process:
Although we arrived very late at night (around 9.30pm), we were able to easily find an envelope with our key and a handwritten note to welcome us to Birdsnest.
As soon as we stepped in, we were all in awe of this antique, homely, heartwarming place. The first thing you would see is a bedroom, with an antique, decorated bed frame, two large windows for some fresh air, and flowery bed covers. Of course, there were also plenty of blankets and heaters, as New Zealand gets really bloody cold, even in summer!
The bedroom was connected to the dining room. Here, there was a large rug in the centre, with 2 individual velvet chairs and a couch. This room was primarily for relaxation rather than dining, so it also had a foldable table and stackable chairs. Unfortunately the weather didn’t do us a favour, so we couldn’t actually enjoy our meals outside, but even eating in here was always a comfortable experience.
The spacious kitchen not only had a cute voyage-themed wallpaper, but even their cutlery had different patterns. I loved how you could see and hear the river and its surrounding flowers while you were in the kitchen.
There was also another bedroom, again full of floral designs and antique decorations. This bedroom also contained a whole drawer of tourist information.
The bathroom was extremely spacious, with a heated rack, a huge cupboard and even an inspirational quote. Although, my favourite thing about the bathroom would have to be the wallpapers, where I could learn about the history of different bathtubs from around the world.
The wifi connection was fast no matter where in the house you were at. This came as a bit of a surprise as we were in the middle of a forest. Although, all of our power died out in the morning of our departure due to the stormy weather, so we did spend a couple of (much-needed) hours without wifi.
Unfortunately it was bucketing down the whole time that we were there, so I didn’t have a chance to go out and explore the glow worm cave or the rest of the property. Heck, I didn’t even get a chance to relax on the porch and listen to the sound of the creek! But on the bright side, this meant that I had to promise myself that I’d be back to enjoy more of what Birdsnest had to offer. Apparently a night-walk (torches provided) is a highly popular activity here!
You should be prepared for:
No matter where you stay, there’s always something that can be improved. Before you visit this place, make sure you’re prepared to battle some of New Zealand’s insects. Because Birdsnest is an antique house in the middle of the forest, having no fly screen meant that bugs could easily intrude your space. The dilemma is that at the same time, you want to open the windows to let the fresh, natural air in. My suggestion would be to bring more insect repellent than you think you need, and you’ll probably need it no matter where you stay in New Zealand anyway!
The special touch:
You might be able to tell that I was in love with our room. I loved how every room had a different wallpaper. I loved the presentation of the different hues. I loved the homeliness and the warmth like a bird’s nest while the weather outside was cyclone-like.
On top of all that, for me the special touch that Birdsnest had was the kindness of the host. For example, when we no longer had power, Richard immediately rushed to his shed and started his power generator. When we asked for more tea towels, he came back with 5 more (all with different patterns of course). And part of our everyday routine was playing with his dogs. Now I understand why it’s called Birdsnest- it’s so homely, hearty and hospitable that you don’t want to leave this place.