Welcome to the Solscape Raglan Eco Retreat, off the coast near the small town of Raglan, about two hours from Auckland, New Zealand. Eco-haven, surfer paradise and hideaway on New Zealand’s rough and beautiful West Coast.
Phil greets us as we arrive and gives us a quick tour around the impressively natural eco bach. Other accommodation buildings are spread all over the park like Solscape terrain.
A booklet on the kitchen table tells us that every inch of the two eco baches (we stayed in the front one, see picture) has been designed and constructed in the most sustainable and energy-efficient way. Untreated and recycled native timbers, earth bricks, warm water sun collectors, recycling – lots of details about materials and how they were carefully processed and put into shape.
Solscape retreat: breathe, relax, unwind
Silver-black sand beaches are a short walk away. Birdlife is abundant. A short stroll through the forest, passing a peaceful water fountain, leads to a hidden camp site popular with groups. Impressive how toilets, bathrooms and kitchen facilities are put together right in the middle of nature. We can see and sense the many hours of labour and dedication going into this showcase of environmental best practice.
And while Solscape is perhaps a little too remote to be declared a sustainable travel paradise (you’ll need a car to move around – or hitch a ride with the locals) it certainly ticks the box in terms of sustainable accommodation. Solscape is run by a group of very dedicated and highly skilled people – many of them enthusiastic surfers. Watch them ride the waves or engage and learn about building techniques, for example. Or just relax – away from cities, congestion and stress.
Not all of the accommodation types offered at Solscape are as luxurious as the eco baches, which means there is something for every wallet. Solscape is part of the BBH Hostel network, whose members will stay at a small discount.
If you’re feeling adventurous but in a constructive way, Solscape is the place to go. We very much enjoyed it.
How to get there
How to get there (from Hamilton): Bus line 23 runs the Hamilton – Raglan route twice a day, although the afternoon service is mainly used by school kids, which made us opt for the 8.30am service – a bit rough. The ride itself takes about 50 minutes and costs something less than 10 NZ Dollar.
During summer and on the weekends there are more buses, some also leaving you almost outside Solscape. Raglan itself is a very nice little town, surfer place, with craft shops, small cafes and restaurants (not to mention the beach, waves etc.!)
Pictures: Own (eco bach in the sun). Slideshow pictures by Jun Kaneko Flickr, creative commons. We visited Solscape in July 2011.
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