Although well-known both to locals and visitors to New Zealand’s South Island for its luxuriousness, Sherwood Queenstown is still a humble place. It has quietly been making its mark since opening two years ago, building an impeccable reputation for having a beautiful ethos in the way it’s run and as a unique place to visit. The rooms, the staff, the opportunities it offers guests to connect with nature and, not least, its food, make it everything you need for an authentic and comforting escape. Photography (above)—Bayly & Moore baylymoore.com

The Sherwood is a retreat, but not in the purest sense of the word and therein lies its uniqueness. While it offers delicious healthy meals, wellness and yoga classes and the freedom to breathe and unplug amongst its gardens, it doesn’t shy away from the convivial pleasures of life — superb wines and craft beers, decadent desserts and dancing to live music. Everyone here, whether they’re staff or guests, feels like family.

All of the hotel’s rooms have a feeling of natural comfort to them. Thick woollen blankets cover huge beds. Bathrooms are stocked with health-giving products made with local, natural ingredients like manuka honey and myrtle, and handwoven furnishings reflect a sense of place and a connection to nature.

Committed to sustainability, the hotel interacts harmoniously with its environment. Part of the Sherwood’s charm is in its many repurposed fixtures and fittings. Ex-service Italian army blankets provide insulation and warmth, hanging as curtains in the rooms. All food waste goes back into the Sherwood’s gardens as compost. The bar has a policy that nothing goes into landfill, so beer and wine arrives by keg, cocktails are served in re-used glass tonic bottles and the napkins are cloth. The kitchen takes a nose-to-tail approach to its food. And the hotel generates enough solar power through its roof installations that the majority goes back to the grid.

A respect for nature similarly defines the Sherwood’s restaurant, which has a ‘garden to table’ ethos influenced by Californian chef and activist Alice Waters. Using organic produce harvested from local orchards and farms, as well as ingredients foraged on morning walks, the kitchen produces beautiful, wholesome dishes, served alongside organic and fair trade coffee and teas, or wine from boutique, family-owned, independent growers.

As well as favouring suppliers who champion organic and biodynamic products, the Sherwood’s own kitchen garden is filled with herbs, heirloom fruits and vegetables that provide a steady flow of fresh, seasonal flavours.

Sheltered and sunny, the Sherwood’s garden is a destination in and of itself, perfect for slow, leisurely breakfasts or cocktail sampling sessions, but there are many other nooks hidden away indoors or on the surrounding hillside where a group of friends could mow through a bottle or two of wine from the beautifully curated list.

Testiment to how central yoga has become in a lot of people’s lives, the Sherwood also has an on-site yoga and Pilates studio offering daily movement classes and massage treatments.

Whether you’re stretching and breathing in the alpine air over a yoga mat or a cleverly composed cocktail, the Sherwood’s motto invites you to BE HERE NOW. To be present, enjoying life’s simple pleasures, on your own, with your partner or with a group of friends. To retreat to the Sherwood will be a moment away from it all that will nourish you long after you say goodbye.

Photography by Greta Kenyon Words—Caroline Waldegrave