A 'tree top' New Zealand adventure
For all the infinite wonder that the internet brings, some of its ills can at times feel bigger. The rise of the troll, our ever dwindling attention span, or perhaps the most subtle - our fondness for exaggeration. After all, if everything is “epic”, so is nothing.
And then we arrived here, Fossickers Hut, near the aptly-named Canvastown. There is no internet here. Not just factually, but philosophically also. There is no distraction, no electronic bells or whistles chiming, no comments section. Oh, and it is genuinely, achingly, in the truest sense of the word, epic.
You park up in a small, single-car spot near the main house, which is your first clue. Then you leave your stuff with Jodie, the ceramic artist / part time farmer who shows you to the path that leads to your home for the night. You follow this path, and your second clue begins to unfold before you. There is no one else here other than you, Jodie, and the sheep, whom you gently move away as you walk through their pasture and into pristine New Zealand bush. Jodie, meanwhile, insists that she brings your bags to the hut via the wheelbarrow route. You politely refuse, offering instead to carry your own bags, but Jodie smiles the kind of smile that suggests you’re best off listening to her, and as you make your way through leafy forest and rocky hillside you begin to understand why. The walk to the hut is not particularly long, but it does require effort, and just as you think you’ve arrived the path leads you further into the bush. This is a big part of what makes this place so magical; that feeling of being alone in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by the sound of flowing water and birdsong, set back from the things that can sometimes make life too easy, too boring.
The hut itself is a small, hand-built wooden structure hiding amongst the gum trees at the top of the hill. The river unfolds beneath you, and beyond that, the other side of the hill, rising up to the blue autumn sky. Jodie has of course beaten you to it, wheelbarrow neatly tucked away and bags unloaded. The quiet of the place is only broken by the trickle of water from the Wakamarina River and the occasional crackling of wood from the fires. We’ve come at just the moment in the season when the chill starts to set in, so both indoor and outdoor fires are lit, along with the third that powers the outdoor bath.
We settle in for the night, cook our dinner over the flames of the outdoor fire, and prepare for bed. But not before a quick nighttime stroll in the dark to witness more stars than we’ve ever seen anywhere on earth, the view only slightly blocked by the black silhouette of the trees rising up beside us. Then, out of the corner of the eye, glow worms! We’ve been searching for this since getting to New Zealand, and instead of joining the hordes of others in cramped tourist spots we’ve somehow stumbled upon a magical enclave of these ethereal creatures in the pitch black of our own private jungle. After a few spellbinding minutes it’s hard to see where the glow worms stop and the stars begin, so we stop trying. With the magic of this place firmly embedded in our memory banks, we head back to the hut, climb up to the top bunks where the fire has kept the warmest, and snuggle up for book time and bed. The wood burner crackles and pops gently as we turn off the lights, and the last thing we see before everyone nods off to sleep is the gentle flicker of the flames dancing against the walls - the perfect way to end this seclusive, magical, dare we say epic stay.
Words by Ben, photography by Viv.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Canopy Camping, a collection of luxury glamping sites in New Zealand who specialises in one-of-a-kind Kiwi experiences. All views our own.
Fossickers Hut | Canopy Camping
488 Wakamarina Rd, Wakamarina 7178, New Zealand