The In The Garden B&B really is, off the beaten track. 45 minutes inland from Oamaru, 15 minutes from the rural town of Kurow, In The Garden B&B is nestled in the hillside. If you are looking for an authentic kiwi farm experience this is it. This is no farm experience put on for the sake of tourists. This sheep and beef farm is a real working farm with no bells and whistles, just a simple kiwi life that’s as genuine as the hills.
We were greeted by Kay who owns the farmstay with her husband Keith. Meeting with Kay was like finding a long lost relative. At first you are just strangers, by the end of the day you are chatting about grandchildren and secret family recipes.
I have never stayed in a Bed and Breakfast before. I often wondered if it would feel a little strange being in someone else’s home. But Kay had the lovely gift of welcoming you in and making you feel at home, yet leaving you to your own devices. It’s one of those special skills that only experienced hosts have the knack of.
We had two separate rooms for the three kids and myself. The rooms were clean and simply appointed. The lovely floral bedspreads made me reminisce of staying with my grandmother; a french country style that was airy and bright. And you know the best thing about staying with your grandmother, is home cooking. Perhaps the best part of staying In The Garden B&B was having the option of a home cooked dinner. I’m not sure if there is anything that epitomises being away on holiday, than not having to cook.
The simple country fare was both healthy and tasty. We were nourished with farm grown roast lamb, fresh carrots, local venison salami and gooseberry crumble. What else could we ask for? Well the boys had seconds, so what everyone was really asking was… “Where do they put it all?” To that, I still do not know.
A great way to take in the country air is to hike along their 14km trail through the hills on the farm. Or if it’s a classic hot Otago summers day, head down to the best kept secret: the swimming hole in the river. The swimming hole is just a 15 minute stroll, past the shearing sheds, around the hay barn and down towards the hill at the back of the farm. If there hadn’t been a wee cold snap, we would have been in there with bells on. Although the boys did try to convince me it was warm enough, despite us wearing our winter jackets to walk down there. You will appreciate the fresh river water, as clear as glass and being able to experience this country wilderness all on your own.
If you are venturing out around the Waitaki Area, do make sure you chat to Kay about her favourites. We loved driving to Omarama via Lake Aviemore and the Benmore Dam, stopping along at the Deep Stream Walkway and checking out the Omarama Clay Cliffs. All well worth the drive for some amazing New Zealand scenery.
In the evening, we had the opportunity to chat to a few other guests, including some of Kays family who were in town for the holidays. There was a lovely community atmosphere where discussions led to the displays of tennis at the ASB Classic to the sad state of Australias bushfires.
It’s been a long time since I’ve really shared accommodation with others. Not since my hostelling days have I joined others for breakfast and chatted around the fire so to speak. Perhaps B&Bing is the hostelling for the more mature audiences. Either way, with three children tucked up tight, I’m pleased of a restful evening, listening to nothing but the wind blow and the sheep saying goodnight.
Written by Jennifer Parkes from Backyard Travel Family. Jen travels around New Zealand with her three young children, providing practical advice for families. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook