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So many visitors have flocked to the original off-the-grid Puketui Forest Escape that owners William and Fiona Purvis have created another guest dwelling to meet demand.
“When we opened in October 2020, we weren’t sure how many people would get it,” Fiona says. “This isn’t a hotel. While we may have a gorgeous comfy bed and beautiful linen and delicious breakfast provisions, it’s still a camping-type experience with the outdoor kitchen, shower and loo.
“But getting out into nature is clearly something people are craving; the bookings have been pretty relentless.”Fiona
The Purvis’s haven’t messed with the formula second time round, either. Both dwellings promise guests absolute privacy and access to their own designated walking tracks. Each has indoor and outdoor fireplaces, solar power and an outdoor bath, plush robes and pure cotton, linen and alpaca bedding.
Both are stocked with a nourishing breakfast for two, featuring plenty of organic products, farm eggs, locally-sourced sourdough bread, fruit and cereal. There is cold-pressed juice, as well, and bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs for the barbecue.
“Our new cabin has everything in one room, whereas the original has adjoining handcrafted pod houses. One for sleeping, the other for relaxing. Otherwise, the escapes are very similar.”
Fiona says guests are frequently drawn to the abundant birdlife and native trees and all seem to relish the chance to step away from the distractions of urban life. Most are still learning about the physiological and psychological practice the Japanese have dubbed shinrin-yoku – taking in the forest atmosphere.
“People are still learning about forest bathing. A lot still think of it as having a bath in the forest and we do offer that, which is amazing. But it’s primarily about getting out there and reaping all the benefits the trees really give us.
“It’s about putting phones down, mindfulness, walking, meditating, chilling out and spending time in the forest to let go and clear your mind. It truly does work.”Fiona
Fiona and William know the value of shinrin-yoku first-hand. The city escapees moved onto their chunk of scenic farmland and private native forest in 2019, seeking a healthier, less stressful lifestyle.
They actively pursue opportunities to be amongst trees that include a 600-year-old matai.
“It is so much quieter here, and we have a more gentle way of living,” Fiona says of their rural property, 12 minute’s drive from both downtown Taupō and Kinloch lakefront. “We have reconnected with nature, slowed down and remembered how to enjoy the simple things."
“We’re different people than we were five or six years ago. We’ve learned to appreciate the forest and to be consciously aware of our surroundings when we’re in it.”
They both work in the forest, cutting tracks, pulling weeds and trapping the pests that threaten native birds, lizards and insects. Having personally set and monitored hundreds of rat bait stations and dozens of possum traps, they continue to walk traplines most days.
Thanks to their efforts, native wildlife is flourishing. Fiona reels off the names of the birds she monitors, including tui, miromiro (tomtits), riroriro (grey warblers) and a family of kereru (wood pigeons) that have been in the area for about 20 years. The endangered popokotea (whitehead) population has grown from perhaps a dozen to “too many to count”.
Guests can expect to hear birdsong as well as the occasional distant farm vehicle and the gentle lowing of cattle. They might see glow worms, but they need not encounter another human during their stay.
“People leave here genuinely refreshed and energised.”
"It’s been scientifically proven that people who spend several hours of quiet, mindful time in forested natural areas, come away with lower blood pressure, lower heart rates and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol." – Fiona Purvis
Immerse yourself in the spirit of manaakitanga as you embark on the Tiaki Promise, ensuring the protection of Lake Taupō and its surroundings for generations to come. Join us in embracing responsible travel and explore tips for a sustainable journey in this breathtaking region.