Friday, April 09, 2010

Old Slaughterhouse

After the Heaphy track, our plan was to go to the Old Slaughterhouse about 20 minutes north of Westport. Annie had recommended it to me a few years ago and I've kept the idea tucked away in case I ever was over there. I didn't really know what to expect. I hadn't ever seen a place that Annie recommended before. Our ride dropped us off there and a sign said "Accommodation, 10 minute walk." We started trudging up the forested hill. It was steep. It had a lot of switchbacks. When we finally arrived at the top, there was no one around except a purring cat. A sign on the door said "We aren't far away, come in, make yourself some tea, make yourself at home" or something like that. Celeen and I went in and did just that. We settled in to a wonderful lunch on the porch overlooking the sea.

Old Slaughterhouse's balcony

After a couple hours, Dave, who owned the place, came home from a walk. He was incredibly welcoming. He had been a sheep shearer for thirty years and when he was in Ireland, he discovered hostels and realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life running one. His son and him spent two years building the three buildings that make up the Old Slaughterhouse. They used a ton of wood in a very open layout. This is definitely the type of place I hope to live in one day. I am told that it is off grid except for the telephone. They get major supplies up the hill with an ATV. One building has two double rooms. Another has a triple and a six-person bunk room. The main building is their private quarters, the communal kitchen, bathrooms, and living space. It is brilliant. Their kitchen island is made out of an Australian hardwood that was being replaced from the telephone poles on the road by their house. They have a hammock. When Dave's wife got home, it was even more brilliant. She brought along their three dogs, two giant labs, and a happy mutt.

Old Slaughterhouse's main building

While we had only planned to stay for a night, we loved it so much that we stayed for two. It was peaceful. It overlooks the Tasman Sea. It was too cloudy to have a great sunset either night, but I can imagine they get some great ones. The dogs loved being pet as much as I loved petting them. I'm definitely going back some day and could encourage you to do the same.

A walking tour of the main building


  1. Wow, that place looks amazing!

  2. oh, how your posts make me wish for more time in NZ. I'll definitely check that place out when I make it back there :)

  3. I would agree that the pancake rocks aren't worth going out of your way to visit... but I think the Old Slaughterhouse is. And it's close enough to the pancake rocks, so why not?

  4. Sounds like a wonderful stay and place to settle down. If you intend to live similarly you may want to focus on working more than 3 months a year instead of traveling and playing Frisbee. College is long over.