Friday 15 March 2024

J&J Drovers Lookout


I wanted to do something special for our ten year wedding anniversary and managed to pull off a surprise getaway for Jake!

Surprising Jake was no easy feat, however, with a little help from his EA at work I managed to block out a few days in his work calendar secretly. Being pregnant and in my third trimester meant that our trip to the Maldives would have to wait until another year. But I had managed to book us something rather special…

Once he arrived home I handed him an envelope that said 'Adventure Awaits! Surprise destination inside. Do not open until the day of departure. No peeking!'

Inside the invite read “The wait is over……..Dadda, It’s been ten years since you married Mumma and we wanted to do something special to celebrate your anniversary this year. We've packed your bags and brought some yummy treats to enjoy…. Are you ready for a road trip?!

Included was a map and our destination. Drovers Lookout is a hut nestled on beautiful farmland, with stunning views that extend over rolling pastures near the Tukituki River and the Ruahine Ranges in central Hawkes Bay.

Jake found the car already packed with our bags along with groceries that I had brought for the menu that I had designed for our trip. Everything was organized and ready to go. He didn't need to lift a finger!

Time to hit the road! I loved that it was only a two hour drive from the Wairarapa. For anyone who's been pregnant you’ll know how uncomfortable long trips can be, especially with two little ones in the car.

For those of you that have been following us for a while you’ll know how much our family loves glamping. Jake gets his camping and nature fix and I get my touch of luxury. It’s a win, win! We love finding family friendly glamping spots here in New Zealand and this one is perfect for families or a group of friends.

We arrived at Totara Valley Park farm which Dover’s Lookout is situated on. You'll also find Musterer's Rest on the same property thats another glamping spot perfect for couples. We were greeted with rolling hills and open fields as we drove down the gravel road while spotting sheep & horses grazing.

Ready to take a look around?

The hut itself is a transformed old shearers headquarters that has been designed into a rustic yet modern space.

The open-plan living and kitchen area is perfect for getting cozy next to the indoor fire, or simply enjoying the breathtaking views.

The indoor kitchen has a four-burner gas cooktop and a small fridge for cool storage, along with all the pots, pans and utensils you'll need for cooking and eating. They also have a BBQ on the deck.

The bathroom had a shower, basin and even flushing toilet.

There was plenty of room for us with two bedrooms, one with a queen bed and the other with a queen bed and mezzanine-style single bunk bed. 

We got unpacked and started preparing dinner. We had courgette pea and mint pasta with prawns which we all enjoyed on the deck. This is a perfect spot for dinner, situated in the centre of the hut with its big wooden outdoor table providing the ultimate outdoor living experience.

Ready to see my favourite room?

This is probably my most favorite room in the hut with a huge black bathtub and a big door turning it into an outdoor haven! The kids enjoyed jumping in with me and once they were asleep late at night Jake and I enjoyed a bath under the stars.

Mum may have put a bit too much bubble mixture in the bath.

But that just made it even more fun!

In the morning after a well rested sleep, it was time to whip up another one of our famous J&J breakfast boards. This time french toast.  

 I find doing breakfast boards like this so easy to make and really good when you have small children who prefer deconstructed meals, making it easy finger food for them to eat.

After breakfast we decided to go down for a swim at Tukituki River which the kids really loved and the perfect spot to cool down in this Summer heat.

You'll find a sign that leads you to the River track.

Finding tree swings along the way

We managed to find a little sandy bay where we set up our picnic blanket and watched the kids splash about in the water.

A fallen tree made the perfect little swimming hole.

For lunch we decided to make another J&J board, this time DYI sandwiches. This is where you basically arrange all your favorite sandwich ingredients on a board so you can make your own! Super quick and easy!

The kids loved getting involved and making their own sandwiches. 

For afternoon tea I made one of my kids favorites. Watermelon pizza. It's such a quick and easy recipe and super tasty. It's the perfect snack. Just cut, mix, spread and serve! You can get as creative as you like with the toppings but a good combo I would recommend is mixing cottage cheese, honey and yogurt in a bowl until smooth. Spread mixture over watermelon slices. 

Arrange in a circle to make a pizza shape. To serve, decorate with strawberries and blueberries and top with sunflower seeds and mint. Delicious!

That face says it all!

That evening I made one of my Summer salads with sweetcorn and avocado, while Jake cooked some chicken kebabs on the BBQ. Gosh I just love Summer salads! 

Once Belle was asleep for the evening the boys lit the fire in campfire area so we could enjoy making s’mores and hot chocolates.

You'll find plenty to do at the hut, with petanque, croquet, badminton and boardgames all supplied. It was nice to switch off and have some family time however, there is good mobile phone reception at Drovers Lookout which comes in handy if you do want to connect with the outside world.

Nothing says glamping like roasting marshmallows over an open fire.

As the sun started to go down we turned on the bath and the sky started to turn pink.

Who doesn't love an outdoor bath?! Especially one with an epic view!

It was so nice to take some time out and enjoy our anniversary as a family. We loved our stay at Dovers Lookout. I would highly recommend this stunning place to anyone looking for that little something magical.

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