New Zealand is famous for its luxurious lodges, but they do tend to stick to a well-worn – if completely excellent – format. That’s what makes the entrance stage left of Annandale all the more exciting, because this is somewhere utterly original with both a big and small ‘O’.

Combining several very different types of accommodation on one huge farmstead on the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, Annandale consists of a couple of superb private hire properties that can accommodate a family gathering or group of friends, and - pay attention honeymooners - two ridiculously romantic smaller villas (well, one's more a cottage) just for two.

Starting with the private hire properties, at the heart of Annandale is the five bedroomed Homestead, which dates from 1880 and sits surrounded by lovely gardens. There are four master suites and a bunk room in the main building, and the nearby stables are a luxuriously decked out overflow property with two additional rooms should you have a larger group. Strongly reminiscent of a Southern American plantation house with its lovely shaded veranda, the Homestead is cosy in the extreme, with a lovely library and drawing room where house guests can congregate. The Annandale team can either stock the pantry or bring in a local chef to cook for the group, with guests positively encouraged to use the produce from the kitchen garden. Also in the 15 acre grounds are a 60ft infinity pool, spa pool and tennis court.

The other private hire property at Annandale, Scrubby Bay, is a very different proposition from the Homestead, designed as a contemporary beach house about 40 minutes' drive (or a short heli ride) from the main house. This is the place for family groups with younger children as there are three ocean-facing suites and then a huge eight-berth bunk room. The open plan living area is also perfect for children, and comes ready supplied with books, toys and games for kids of all ages, with a lovely beach just a few feet away.

For honeymooners for whom children are a mere twinkle in the eye, Annandale has an additional two spectacular one-bedroom private properties. Seascape is a contemporary gem with a grass roof and glass façade overlooking a private bay where you can often see dolphins and seals mucking around. The sophisticated interior consists of a raised bedroom area, a living area with fireplace and a bathroom with an arrow slit window looking out over the bay and the outdoor spa pool. Honeymoon perfection, basically, but there's more, in the rural idyllic shape of the Shepherd's Cottage. More traditional in style, the cosy one bedroom Cottage, complete with sheepskin rugs, open fire and (not so traditional) outdoor spa bath, looks out across the sea and the Kaikoura mountain range beyond.

Whichever property you stay at, the team at Annandale can arrange for any number of activities such as mountain biking, trekking or helping out with sheep and cattle mustering on what remains a working farm. Just one unlike any other you're likely to experience.

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Frances is our 'Annandale' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.