After our minor detour to One Tree Hill, we began our three-hour journey toward the Coromandel Peninsula. Rather than staying in Thames or Coromandel town, we decided to journey a bit farther to Tuateawa, an important wildlife haven on the eastern coast. We found our home for the next two nights through Canopy Camping and Escapes and saw that they had a property in the Upper Coromandel Peninsula: Top Hut. Unbeknownst to us, we were setting off on a beautiful adventure along the rugged coastline and through the lush forest to reach Top Hut.
5FT Tip: A good 22km or so are dirt roads. While they are extremely well maintained, do factor this into your estimated driving time since you will need to drive slower. As a foreigner relying on Google Maps, we were afraid it was directing us to the middle of nowhere, as it seemed like we were in the middle of no where. We kept trusting Google Maps, however, and arrived at Top Hut right in time for check-in at 2pm.
There are a few key aspects that make staying at Top Hut a unique and beautiful experience:
We were instantly greeted by Kit, running down the driveway to meet us, who was truly a joy to have met. She is such a lovely, thoughtful host, and owns the most incredible property in the Coromandel Peninsula.
Tucked away in the backroads of Tuateawa, this house makes you feel like you’re the only people in New Zealand. As private as possible, Top Hut has everything one might need for a romantic getaway (I love my brother, but not like that). 5FT Tip: As Top Hut is in such a secluded, pristine area, I highly recommend stopping to grab groceries before arriving since the nearest grocery store is at minimum thirty minutes away. We stopped at Pak ’n’ Save in Thames – it was right along our route.
When we were taken to Top Hut, David and I were blown away at what looked like our very own treehouse surrounded by bush and birds. Nestled in the bush, you could spend days just soaking in the environment listening to the birds chirping. It is as cozy and homey as could be. Perfect for two people, comfortable for three, and manageable for four or five, this little hut is suitable for anyone. Upon walking in the welcoming yellow-painted doors, you enter the main level of the treehouse.
There is a long cushioned seat overlooking the bush, and a cornered couch with plenty of pillows that could easily be made into a bed or two. [I can attest to the fact that this couch surely is comfortable, as I’ve been sitting on it writing for quite a while!]
There is also a fully-equipped kitchen with a refrigerator, toaster oven, oven and stove too – cook yourself up some food and bring it over to the dining room table set with four chairs to enjoy your meal.
When ready for bed, climb the ladder-like stairs to your lofted bedroom! A comfortable queen-sized bed, night stand, and bench make for a convenient and satisfying sleeping space.
The best part? You can see above the bush and to the sea from your bed! While Top Hut is small and cozy, there is ample room, and never did I feel crammed.
Kit and her husband Colin lived in this home themselves for ten years! The heart they put into designing this place is noticeable. From the comfortable couches, to the kitchen supplies and the Moroccan decor, to a room with a view, they designed the perfect bit of paradise away from the chaos of everyday life.
There is not a bathroom or washroom inside the hut, as they are both located outdoors. Out the front door, turning right, you can follow a nicely lit path to a “loo with a view.” While there is no door to your compost toilet (remember, you’re in a completely private space), look out over the fern bushes and onto the sea with the sound of birds chirping around you. For an outdoor toilet, I am so impressed by how clean Kit and Colin keep the space. The last compost toilet I had encountered was in Nicaragua, made of straw, and filled with an innumerable amount of cockroaches and spiders. This compost toilet, however, is nothing like that. Designed with plaster walls, and paired with frequent cleaning, you can barely even tell that it’s an outdoor toilet. The compost itself is emptied after each and every guest, the toilet paper is in a sealed container so that no creepy-crawlies find a home there, and the mulch is closed in a tight container to avoid attracting other critters. They knew how to do this right.
Out the front door, turning left and walking down the outdoor stairs, you will come across a doorway with a small curtain made of shells. Entering, you will find an outdoor shower with metal flooring and hot water, a sink with soap, and counter space with plenty of mirrors. It’s a spacious washroom, and as clean as could be. Top Hut provides you with very soft towels, and eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner, and soap.
In front of the house, you can find a nice deck. There is a table with an umbrella and four chairs, two chaise lounges, and two other sitting chairs. The deck also has a chiminea, perfect for cozying up on a chilly evening, or roasting marshmallows should you please (which happen to be provided for you!). Kit and Colin provide an ample supply of cut wood should this be the route you take.
The entire area surrounding the house, and the interior of the house as well, is lit up at night by fairy lights with the flick of a switch. Not only does it look lovely, but pair it with the candles provided, and the ambience is that much more relaxing.
Most apartments don’t come equipped with anything other than the bare minimum. Top Hut, however, is the complete opposite. The kitchen comes fully stocked, with multiple sized pots and pans, a cheese grater, tea pot, colander, cutting board, dish rack (with plenty of dish soap and hand towels), and every utensil you could possibly need (wine key included!). They also have pink salt and pepper, tea, olive oil, and soy sauce, along with homemade cookies, fresh fruits and veggies, herbs, and four different types of organic jams (with bread provided). The refrigerator is more than big enough, and there is an armoire stocked full of glasses (every shape an size), plates, bowls, and serving platters.
Next to the oven, you can find a pot belly stove to heat up a meal or warm the cottage should you need (although it’d will be rare that you’d need it during the summer). Top Hut utilizes space extremely efficiently, as there’s something “hidden” beneath most surfaces – under the couches you can find numerous board games, puzzles, and extra pillows; in the chest, you can find plenty of materials to turn the couches into beds; in the lowboy upstairs you can find thicker blankets and towels; and under the long bench by the window you can find a backpack to bring with you during a hike, packed with muesli bars, a torch, a survival blanket, a whistle, a first aid kit, and laminated maps. They truly have thought of everything here!
The Surrounding Areas.
Despite its seclusion, Top Hut is close enough to many enjoyable activities. Fifty meters from the gate, there is a walkway to a beautiful, rocky, and deserted beach. It’s about a 35 minute round trip walk, and anyone of relative physical ability should have no problem. The path is extremely well maintained and direct! It is completely unspoiled, New Zealand beauty, and we spent a while relaxing and taking it all in.
After a brief break for lunch back at Top Hut, we decided to take a fifteen minute drive to Little Bay, the closest sand beach. This beach was “busy,” with about twenty people or so lounging; it also has great conditions for swimming. This is your typical white sand beach lined with pohutukawa trees.
From Little Bay, we drove about ten minutes further to Waikawau Bay. It’s a bit tough to find, but when you see a big sheep pen across from a line of big trees with a small clearing, you’re there. You will walk through sand dunes for about five minutes before reaching the beach. A very long strip of beach, and yet not a soul was there! Untouched beauty, that’s for sure.
There are multiple places to explore other than Tuateawa Beach near the property that David and I ran out of time to see for ourselves. They all seem fantastic and are bound to offer some pretty views of the Coromandel Peninsula. When I return to Top Hut in the future, I will be sure to try to find them all. Forget Auckland – Top Hut is an exceptionally perfect place to spend a few days when first arriving in New Zealand and adjusting to different time zones. The tranquility and peacefulness of the house and its surrounding areas begs you to stay longer. I sure wish I could!
**Special thanks to Top Hut & Canopy Camping and Escapes for kindly hosting us. As always, all opinions are my own. Photographs taken by David M Gallo Photography.