We’ve been working with Kat and Dan since 2013 and it has been an absolute delight! Every season we receive glowing reviews from our clients about Kowhai Cottage and the bubbly hosts. We thought it was about time we chatted to Kat and learn all about her background in Duntroon, and what drives her passion to host Alps 2 Ocean cycle guests.
We’ve known you for the better part of 6 years, but we would love to know a bit more about you.
Well where do I start. I am a born and raised Duntroonian which makes it such a thrill to run our accommodation based in central Duntroon. In 2003 I met a beautiful young elf Daniel who was living in Otematata and I was living in Oamaru. We decided to meet halfway to have our combined stepfamilies settle in Duntroon. My husband is based in the valley for work and I work for several employers, just to name a few, WW (Weightwatchers reimaged), Duntroon public toilets and Ritchies driving school buses (my dream job with kids). We have been part of the local community group called DDDA (Duntroon District Development Association) – which has a small base of under 10 members who maintain and clean the public toilets, build and create the Duntroon Wetlands with a few other Duntroon villagers. Dan and I also open and close the Duntroon Gaol daily.
What do you offer by way of accommodation?
Our holiday home which we happily share with guests is 3 houses up the road from our home base. We have created a secure private home surrounded in mature gardens. My personal passion is flowers and trees and my husbands passion is natives so we have created a 4000sq metres of garden and houses. In previous years there was nowhere to eat in Duntroon, so I planted out and maintained the vegetable garden and fruit orchard for guests to eat from and this was the best asset as guests just love to pick and eat the produce we grow. The compliments have been overwhelming, although I think my garden is weedy and non-structured so quite amusing. As food was difficult for guests to purchase I attended a Food Safety course a the local polytechnic and currently refresh it every 2 years, as I take food safety for all guests seriously. We have one guest cottage called ‘Kowhai Cottage Duntroon’ and one additional 1-bedroom unit called ‘Kowhai Bach Duntroon’.
- Private Fresh produce
- Cottage garden
- Home away from home
- Nature birds galore
- Fully equipped
- Fantastic night skies with no street lights (a must)
- Dansey’s pass views with lookout seating
Why did you start Kowhai cottage and how long have you been running?
I owned a home in Oamaru when I was a single mum and in 2010 we spent 16 months in Germany, which was phenomenal for 2 country bumpkins to experience the whole wide world. Upon returning home, we chose to sell it and buy a home for long term renting. In March 2013, we bought a home in the next street and started updating the inside. We started hearing about the Alps 2 Ocean trail, so I contacted Jason Menard who is a passionate advocate for the trail and super kind human who encouraged us to rent as a holiday BNB and we opened in December 2013.
How has the A2O trail contributed to you and the Duntroon community?
Well to begin with, Dan and I are passionate workers in the community and fully committed to community work. The influx of cyclists and visitors has been fantastic for the growth of local businesses and I am seeing repeat riders of the trail, which is fantastic! More often than not, we have guests that are staying more than 1 night. It’s fun to meet riders in the township and share the highlights of Duntroon they may not know.
What do you enjoy most about hosting Alps 2 Ocean cyclists?
To be honest…the look on their face when they arrive, as its pure joy!
What would you recommend visitors to do while staying in Duntroon?
Vanished World fossil centre
Has been opened for approximately 20 years and staffed solely by passionate volunteers. It showcases fossils found locally in our neighbouring farms, by visiting here you may meet true locals who will share a cup of tea and biscuit and many stories of early Duntroon.
Nicols Blacksmith Shop
Owned and operated by 4 farmers who bought it in 1975, who later restored the building with the help of volunteers and professionals working together – it’s also classed as one of New Zealand’s historic places. We are extremely fortunate to have the forge in working order, with demonstrations and live blacksmith courses available for the public to buy and try their hand at creating a piece. The magic happens each weekend and many tools made here are available to buy for gifts.
The brewery hole is directly behind the blacksmith and linked to a series of underground tunnels that are connected to the Waitaki river. An information panel is located nearby, which displays a GPS map of where it goes underground.
The work on the wetlands has been a continuous project over many years, with the help of a few locals and DDDA. The wetlands is a very special place and our wishes are to share the wetlands with everyone, to stop and sit for a while, and to soak up the sun amongst nature. You may find a wooden seat that has been dedicated to my father, who was chief of the Duntroon Fire Brigade and a true local.
Without my husbands help and support, and my parents strong work ethic and country hospitality, we could never have succeeded in growing into a well-known long-term business. Thanks to them xxx