It’s a stunning location to stay in and when Christine Erkkila and husband John were planning the 14 guest cottages they planned to open, they wanted something special.
Newly opened Kinross Cottages is located halfway between Queenstown and Cromwell, set amongst the vineyards of central Otago’s majestic Gibbston Valley. Guests can soak up the pioneering history of the original Kinross station, plus enjoy the romance of a working vineyard.
Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewurtztraminer varieties are all growing in profusion around these unique cottages. To accompany their enjoyment of the area’s wine, guests can obtain local artisan produce at the onsite general store and wine merchant.
From the very beginning, Christine and John had a vision for the spacious, self-catering family and studio cottages they planned to build.
Said Christine: “We had a picture in our minds of how we wanted it to be – little central Otago shed-shaped cottages in keeping with the area, each with a gabled roof and lean-to shape on the back.
“We’d owned other small accommodation places before and we knew we wanted duplexes and the type of floor plan. We had all that drawn up by Paddy Baxter who’s a landscape designer of some repute in Queenstown. Paddy was able to breathe life to our concept and we used that to communicate to the builder, who drafted up the final plan.
“We didn’t use an architect, we went straight to a builder, John Mansfield of Fowler Homes Southern Lakes, who’s been excellent to work with. We’ve been able to work with him to incorporate all the great ideas we have had along the way – which weren’t part of the original plan. He’s been really flexible and taken a problem-solving approach.”
But while the cottages’ construction was well underway, the crucial element of interior design had still to be achieved. Christine knew what the cottages needed to feel like to fit the product she wanted to market. “But I really needed some help to bring that to fruition.
“I wanted them to be a quirky, classy mix of rustic and colonial, yet with modern, easy to use facilities. The reason Kinross Cottages is the name, is that the land we bought is quite a big chunk of the original Kinross Station. Thomas Kinross came to the area in the late 1860s and became very well respected in the Gibbston community. He and his wife Helen had 11 children and they ran the local trading post on the property, buying gold and provisioning locals and travellers.
“We felt there was a rich history in our property, so we contacted his descendants who were delighted for us to use the family name.
“They have given us access to a lot of photos and other memorabilia, so I wanted to bring that in as the theme of the rooms, without it all becoming kistch colonial. So really early on in the piece we went to Grace.”
The Grace is Grace Nattrass, lead designer for the project at SH Interiors in Auckland, and Mrs Erkkila is very satisfied with how the vision has been brought to life.
“I had the picture in my head but I would’ve found that really difficult to turn into reality without Grace being able to translate it and source everything we needed. A significant advantage of SH Interiors is that Grace is a one-stop-shop – both she and her offsider, Debbie Carr, were fantastic to work with.
“After the months of planning with them, we had a container arrive here on-site that had everything we needed – from the beds, to the furniture, to teaspoons, toilet brushes, drapes and the pots – everything came from Southern Hospitality – Grace and Debbie arranged everything.
“We’re very happy with how it’s all turned out. The rooms are better than I could’ve imagined. Grace put that vision in and made it work superbly. She held our hands a little bit in terms of interior lighting design, electrical plans and that sort of thing because we’d never done anything quite as big as this before. She was interested in everything that we needed her to do.”
Kinross Cottages opened in late September. So what reaction has there been from its first guests and the nearby community?
Said Christine: “The feedback we’re getting now is that the local people in the industry heard that this was coming and when they’ve arrived on-site for a look, they’ve just been blown away.
“The rooms really make a statement and communicate the standard of the product we have here. We’ve got a great location and with Grace’s help, we’ve really pulled off something special.”