Sure, in New Zealand, you can stay in tiny homes in the middle of nowhere and glamp on sheep farms, but easily one of the quirkiest stays the country has to offer is Jester House.
Located in the Tasman region of the South Island, in a hazelnut grove, Jester House is accommodation for two in a 6m-high, size 318 boot. Though it was built in 1999, it only recently opened for stays. Owners Judy van den Yssel-Richards and Steve Richards say the boot accommodation was initially created as a “fairytale escape for two”.
For the best way to experience The Boot, Yssel-Richards suggests arriving in the late afternoon. Inside, you’ll be greeted with fresh flowers in the lounge and if you arrive on a cold day, running heaters, as well as a stack of firewood for the indoor or outdoor fireplace. “The fire is always ready for you to just add the flame,” says Yssel-Richards.
The bedroom of The Boot sits at the top of a spiral staircase. It’s complete with dark curtains to late morning rises and a Juliet balcony that looks over a courtyard and across a pond.
The next day, she suggests a long sleep-in before feasting on provided breakfast supplies, including homemade sourdough bread, a bowl of fruit grown on the property and local milk. A range of artisan teas and locally roasted coffee is also supplied.
Once you’re caffeinated and fed, she advises you to walk along the beach — Kina Beach is a 30-minute walk away — or a visit to Abel Tasman National Park — a 30-minute drive north — before lunching in Nelson, the oldest city in the South Island, Motueka, a town known for its artistic community and lively café culture, or Mapua, a small town with a wharf. There are also nearby wineries and galleries to explore.
“Then, come back to The Boot in the late afternoon with some platter supplies, and sit outside in the courtyard with the fire going, a glass of wine and watch the stars come out,” says van den Yssel-Richards. She and Richards also live on the property Jester House is planted on.
In addition to their home, the land also features extensive gardens and Jester House Café, which is open to the public every Friday from 10am to 5pm and serves coffee, bakery treats, a lunch menu and afternoon tea.
“My favourite spot on our property [where The Boot guests can go too] is the Champagne Shack, a beautiful red and gold pergola where we get the last of the evening sun and where we relax with a glass of bubbles at the end of the day.”
The Boot doesn’t have a TV inside, a deliberate move to help add to the experience of connecting. One guest’s description of the stay, Yssel-Richards says, sums it up best: “We arrived in a helicopter and left in a dream.”
Room rates at Jester House start at NZD $310 and are at a two-night minimum.