Couple realise Hakataramea treehouse dream

Andy and Liz Hayes are launching their luxury treetop accommodation, Nest Tree Houses, on May 1....
Andy and Liz Hayes are launching their luxury treetop accommodation, Nest Tree Houses, on May 1. Photos: Supplied
If putting a treehouse on the side of a cliff, in a forest, with swing bridges, was easy, more people would be doing it.

This is what a friend said to Hakataramea Valley’s Liz Hayes on one of the days when she was questioning the task she and husband Andy had taken on, building their luxury accommodation.

“There were a few days where the frustration was real,” she said.

But now Nest is ready to go, and with the dream realised, the struggles have been worth it.

The Hayeses’ dairy farm has been in the family for six generations. The treehouse is nestled within the pine forest Mr Hayes planted on the farm with his father 30 years ago.

“So it’s special in that way as well,” Mrs Hayes said.

The whole project “has been in our brains for about two years”, but construction began with installation of the stilts in August last year, before the building was lifted by crane on to the stilts – “so as not to disturb any of the trees” – in November.

“The foundations, because they’re so high up, had to be 2m into the ground. So to get into this hard, hard ground was a real chore. So it’s solid as a rock.”

The actual building was made by Shape Construction in Christchurch, while other work was carried out by Ashburton company Macrae Builders, who had previously done work for the Hayeses on their farm.

On a clear night, the night views rival the day views.
On a clear night, the night views rival the day views.
Mr Hayes also helped where he could by putting in the steps, tree-top lights and fencing.

The end result is a plush, luxurious hideaway.

Access to the treetop structure is via a swing bridge, the building of which was itself a feat, Mrs Hayes said.

“The engineering involved in a swing bridge will blow your mind. It’s just insane, but we were desperate to do it, because I think it makes the treehouse.”

With a large glass frontage, and an oversized window, visitors can immerse themselves in the view throughout their stay.

There is a hot tub on the deck, a wine-barrel sauna down a winding path in one direction, and adult-sized swings offering a fun way of enjoying the view in the other.

Heating is in the form of a gas fire and heatpump, while a television is tucked up into the ceiling.

“When you go and stay somewhere you do just want to chill out.

“Once you’ve had your hot-tub and sauna, and sat and had some food . . .”

Every detail has been attended to, with homemade Nest cookies on arrival. A continental breakfast is part of the package, but if people choose to partake in a breakfast hamper, they will be treated to more of Mrs Hayes’ baking, “which we drop off at the end of the swinging bridge, so they don’t have to see us.

The finished product.
The finished product.
“That’s the part that I like.”

Mr Hayes said daytime activities could involve walking or biking around the area.

“They can have a look at a working dairy farm if they wanted to, too.

“We’re not so much telling a story about the farm, but we’re sort of just saying ‘hey, look, this is what we’ve got to offer’ in a valley that a lot of people don’t really know or get to see,” he said.

“It really is untouched, this valley.”

It was “kind of paradise”, Mrs Hayes said.

“It’s been quite nice that we’ve been able to enjoy it . . . and now we’re letting everyone else enjoy it as well.”

Mr Hayes said Nest was the perfect way for people to get away “off the beaten track”.

“And actually just breathe. Without having to do much.”

Nest is open for bookings in May, and if it goes well, the plan is for there to be two tree houses. The second would be tucked away on the other side of the sauna, so guests would be hidden from each other.

 -  Ashley Smyth

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