Press Releases

High Country Hideaway

Apr 9, 2002

This resort seamlessly integrates into the natural environment that surrounds it, thanks to its award winning landscape design

Landscape design that recognises the existing elements in an environment and their potential is one way to retain the natural size and scale of a site.

Blanket Bay PoolEnhancing what nature intended, by planting mainly native species and creating landscapes that merge with New Zealand's geographical features, signifies a return to local integrity, says Paddy Baxter of Baxter Brown Planning and Design. Taking this approach recently paid off for Baxter, who scooped the 2001 Trends Outdoor Living Design Award for the landscaping of South Island resort, Blanket Bay. According to the judging panel, the project successfully marries the requirement for an upmarket facility with the need to respect the natural beauty of its surroundings.

The resort is set on the picturesque shores of Lake Wakatipu and framed by the golden tussock lands of the high mountains. Keeping within the vernacular of a high country sheep station, Baxter says he designed a simple layout and site detailing to retain a rural quality.

Taking his cue from the site's primary elements of stone, plants and water, the bulk of the planting comprises silver tussock and hebe, both endemic species. The tussock is dominant throughout the site, interspersed with existing pine trees and mature mountain beech. A number of exotic trees introduce autumnal shades, while lavender and rose plantings provide a sprinkling of colour around the lodge and chalets.

Blanket Bay back lawn"To maintain the wild feel of the landscape, this colour detailing was mainly confined to the buildings," says Baxter.

Retaining walls made from local schist divide the various parts of the resort, protecting each area from the northwesterly winds that blow down the mountains and across the lake. Schist flagstones have also been placed randomly to create the water feature at the front of the lodge a stream that trips over the rocks and turns into a cascading waterfall. The water culminates in a large pond, which is used for fly fishing practice. Designed as a main feature of the lodge, the streams haphazard, organic layout is a naturalistic response to the lake and provides contrast to the more uniform structure of the buildings, says Baxter.

The hard landscaping has been designed to focus attention on the views, rather than detracting from them. For example, the car parking facilities ensure vehicles are hidden beneath a garden planted with tussock grass. The effect is similar to what the landscape would have looked like before it was used for farming, says Baxter. The frame of the carpark includes recycled jarrah beams and iron bark, materials which are repeated in the lodge. This continuity provides a subtle link between the outside of the resort and its interior spaces, says Baxter.

Blanket Bay LodgeThe swimming pool has been created as a private sanctuary, unable to be seen from the main lodge and protected on all sides from harsh winds.

"The pool is very simple and quite classical. In line with merging it into the natural landscape, one of the objectives was to make it look as if had been there for a very long time," says Baxter.

To achieve this, a dark blue Quartzon finish was applied to the interior of the pool. The almost black coloured water mirrors the moody shadows the mountains cast upon the still lake, he says. A glass window at the south end of the pool frames a view of Pigeon Island.

Landscape architects: Paddy Baxter andJessica Staples of Baxter Brown Planning & Design (Queenstown) Architects: McLaughlin & Associates (USA), Archimedia(Queenstown) Builder: Edge Construction Landscape construction: Mark Stevenson Plantingsupplier: John Baker, Home Creek Nurseries Stonesources: Wyuna Station, Gibbston Stone Poolpaving: Hellibon sandstone from Trethewey Stone & Granite,Christchurch Pool heating, filtration and construction:Pioneer Pools, Christchurch