22 Jun Big Sky Nelson Eco B&B: So much more than just a place to lay your head
For a single night’s stay, our lodging criteria are simply a safe, clean place to lay our heads with comfy pillows and mattress. But when our travel plans include spending more than one night, we prefer small boutique properties with the owner on-site so that our lodging becomes part of the travel experience.
This might be a bed and breakfast situated in a historic home, cabins on the side of a mountain or in the case of Big Sky Nelson Eco B&B, a purpose-built home with one level occupied by the owner/host and one level dedicated to guests with two private bedrooms with private baths and a shared breakfast area with outdoor deck.
Big Sky is the vision of Avner Nahmias, designer and builder of the retreat just north of Nelson, New Zealand. Perched on a hillside 1,000 feet above Tasman Bay, the eco design stresses the view and natural surroundings. The terraced hillside includes organic gardens and fruit trees with paths for walking and places for contemplating. What Avner does not grow on the property, he sources locally. Our milk and cream came from a nearby farm. Fresh fruit, produce and cheese all came from within a 20-mile radius.
A short 15-minute drive north from Nelson, the property is far enough away to offer a serene relaxing time-out yet still close enough to scoot into town for lunch or dinner. Big Sky Nelson was our base to explore the nearby wine country and national parks, including the famed Abel Tasman.
Now, the first time you climb up the road to Big Sky may be a bit daunting for those not used to New Zealand’s roads. But you quickly get used to the steep hairpin curves and the view at the end is worth the drive. You will also fully appreciate Avner’s mantra for his place: “altitude, attitude, gratitude.”
Avner is all you could wish for in a host: welcoming, attentive and passionate about each guest and their experience on site and beyond. He knows most of the local restaurants and attractions, insightful at matching his advice to the individual guest or group.
After a day of local sightseeing, it’s amazing to spend the late afternoon with a bottle of wine and local cheese watching the stunning sunset.
We were traveling with another couple so we had the place to ourselves. Being American, with personal space concerns, I wondered if it would be awkward sharing the kitchen and deck with a stranger. Avner claims that this not only works, but was a deliberate consideration in the design – like the inns of long ago, a place where fellow travelers meet people they might not otherwise encounter. In fact, he claims in all the years he’s run Big Sky, guests have always gotten along and often left as friends.
Many tourists pass through Nelson on the way to Picton or the West Coast without stopping. We recommend you do plan a few nights in Nelson. It’s a charming small town with great food and activities for every taste – from art to beaches, biking to hiking. And nights spent at Big Sky take your visit to a higher level – literally and figuratively.
Want to know more about the Nelson/Tasman region of New Zealand?
We loved the Nelson area, and wish we had stayed longer. We asked Avner to write about the Nelson region and why this should be on your itinerary next time you visit New Zealand. Read about Nelson – New Zealand’s often overlooked destination.