One of the things I love about this country is the ability to discover and explore little pieces of paradise that you know is out there, but just haven’t quite got to uncovering yet. Ohau is like that. One of the perks of owning and operating Riverstone Kitchen is I often get to travel to some stunning locations and work alongside some amazing people. This is how I stumbled onto Ohau quarters and Mel and Mark.
Asked by friends to help cater for a special event, turning off to Ohau you are well aware that you are in big sky country. The vista is vast, rugged and deliciously empty of people. It was late afternoon and a storm was brewing at the head of the lake, creating a dark and moody atmosphere as I skimmed along the road. When the asphalt gives way to gravel, it’s a refreshing reminder that some places in this world are still untamed. Glades of mountain beech hugging the road add to the appeal but soon enough I draw close to my destination and the ‘Quarters’ comes in to view on a grassy knoll, overlooking the head of the lake.
As you turn up the final stretch of the driveway you realise you are in for something special. Spacious, well designed and built to accommodate a group in style, it’s the kind of place you can’t help but explore with a big grin on your face. As a cook, my curiosity was naturally drawn to the kitchen and as in everything else, I found it well designed with everything I needed to keep a large team fed and watered. Oodles of storage and killer views from nearly every window made my job a joy and a magical weekend unfolded where you truly felt away from it all, and one you just don’t want to end.
Before I had even left, I knew I had to come back, so recently the team from Riverstone and I headed back up for a chance to switch off from the outside world, reconnect and rest up before the Christmas rush. Mel greeted us like old friends and Mark was soon answering questions on likely fishing spots and the best places to go walking. Temple basin is only a wee bit further up the valley and not a bad way to get some fresh air into our lowland lungs.
Afterwards couches, beanbags rested weary limbs in front of an open fire until dinner can be shared on the massive communal wooden tables. Weekends like these are good for the soul, so I can see why so many groups want to make it their home, albeit for a few precious days. It’s the stuff of memories, and already we are planning an excuse to return. Thanks Mel and Mark, for your genuine hospitality in a wee bit of God zone. We will be back soon.
By Bevan Smith – Riverstone Kitchens