I always loved the Smurfs. I was even such a Smurf-geek as a kid that I’d set my weekday alarm early enough to watch the 6:30am episodes on TV2 before getting ready for school. The pre-pubescent version of myself often thought how cool it would be to have my own human-sized Smurf house. Well, fast-forward 25 years and I came pretty close, at least for a weekend. The location? Solscape in Raglan in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island.
Before you get too excited if you’re a fellow Smurf fan, this is far from a Smurf-themed resort, but amidst all of Solscape’s eco-friendly offerings are two Smurf-tastic mud huts. Or as Solscape calls them, “Earth Domes”. With the right paint job, you’d be certain Papa Smurf or Smurfette were your neighbours. As it stands, Solscape’s two Earth Domes blend a little more seamlessly into their environment.
And what an environment. Perched on top of a cliff overlooking the famous waves of Raglan below, Solscape also sits in the shadow of the forested, 756m Mt Karioi. So what is Solscape exactly? Turns out it’s many things, though all falling under the umbrella of being sustainable and in tune with the environment. Practically speaking, this means an eco-resort that includes not just two Earth Domes, but several recycled railway cabooses, an entire train carriage, a couple of classic Kiwi-style bachs, a studio and an ivy-covered cottage.
All around are the vegetable gardens that provide the food for the plant-based Conscious Kitchen cafe. As a meat-eater, I had never eaten vegetarian cuisine so delightful. A breakfast of faux sausages and eggs was way better than it sounds, enhanced by a the stunning views over the crashing Tasman Sea in the distance.
Back to our dome. Provided you don’t go in thinking this is 5-star luxury, the Earth Domes at Solscape are mightily enchanting. Circular walls immediately give a different vibe from your normal hotel room, and with quirky windows, a short spiral staircase, glass-bottle miniature skylights and a mezzanine floor where my wife and I had lunch, we fell in love with our little wee Smurf house.
Solscape comes complete with a surf school, a yoga centre and communal areas for self-cooking and relaxing. Not surprisingly, this is a place that attracts an international, intelligent, environmentally-conscious breed of traveller. The accommodation caters to a range of budgets and that amazing setting even allows for hiring out the property for weddings. Just keep an eye out for Gargamel and Azrael.