A reprieve from the ordinary.

8 February 2024 / Case Studies

This luxury lodge in the heart of the South Island has been flawlessly designed by Warren and Mahoney, and then meticulously built by Hoogervorst Builders. It is a sight to behold.

abode Magazine

WORDS Kathy Catton

PHOTOGRAPHY Barry Tobin and Lisa Sun

Flock Hill Station is not new to the map. Some might know it for its vast mountain ranges, forested valleys, winding streams and voluminous hillsides.

Others might be familiar with its neighbouring ski fields of Craigieburn, Broken River and Porters. Most will know it – even from the description alone – as an untouched idyll of New Zealand, with wildness and a wilderness in equal measure.

The 14,000ha high-country working station has been farmed since 1857 and now houses a luxury lodge for its American owners and their well-heeled guests. The land itself is owned by the University of Canterbury and this sense of place remains very much central to the creation of Flockhill Lodge.

Warren and Mahoney Principal and South Island Studio Head of Design Jonathan Coote and his architecture team designed the retreat that sits embedded yet stretched across the view, revealing awe- inspiring mountains, lakes and skies.

“The design takes inspiration from the traditional New Zealand forms associated with farmhouses and farm buildings, and turbocharges it,” says Jonathan. “A simple and understated exterior that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.”

The 75m-long home comprises a series of interconnected rooms, each with its own distinct purpose, including living spaces, sitting spaces, a media room, wine room and four bedrooms. As Jonathan says, the homestead is designed to be used in a fluid way: “With almost continuous connection between internal and external spaces under a soaring roof and generous verandah.”

This is undoubtedly a place to feel safe and cocooned in, away from the pressures of the outside world. All of the rooms take advantage of the views, sitting underneath a simple gabled form. “Views over Lake Pearson and Sugar Loaf beyond are available for everyone, the rooms are ‘view-democratic’,” says Jonathan.

By contrast, the kitchen turns its back on the vista and is positioned to the rear of the living spaces, providing a more intimate space for gathering together and sharing food.

The property features heavy, sturdy concrete cast walls aligned with the main views and has a gently pitched roof, which is stacked and layered in stained New Zealand timber to a thin edge at its outermost point. “It’s truly embedded into its geography, providing a sense of safety and retreat,” says Jonathan, while also delivering a “sense of being fully immersed in the dramatic scenery.”

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Roland Hoogervorst of Hoogervorst Builders was selected to take on the mammoth task of bringing this design to reality. He was chosen following the successful build of luxury villa Annandale at Pigeon Bay, a similarly remote and visually stunning retreat. Roland was familiar with the location and was up to the challenge of working in extreme alpine conditions.

Roland and his team had to work meticulously to create this masterpiece, as well as with a high degree of ingenuity and lateral thinking. “My first question to myself on seeing the plans was, ‘How am I going to build this?’ I’m only aware of one other place in New Zealand that has worked with these stratified walls, for example,” says Roland.

Through research, testing and expert precision, the method of building these layered concrete walls came to fruition, and the result is a stunning rustic feel to the interior and exterior concrete work of the home. “In my 40 years of building expertise, the construction of the stratified walls was certainly my biggest, most exciting challenge,” says Roland. “Seeing the result at the end was hugely rewarding. It was an entire team effort and I’m incredibly impressed at how we all worked together. Everyone was amazing to work with, particularly the engineer, Warren and Mahoney and the project management team.”

One of the predominant design features of the homestead lodge is the use of natural materials. Jessica Close, interior designer at Jessica Close Interiors, was responsible for all the interior furnishings. From the highly textured cast-in-place coloured concrete to the beech tongue-and-groove walls, these elements ground the building and provide a natural warmth that complements the surrounding landscape.

The lodge is managed by Andrew and Sandra Cullen, experts in hospitality and luxury lodging. The couple were heavily involved in the build process from the start and work daily on the operational side of the lodge.

“The architect and builder were both fantastic to work with,” says Andrew. “It’s a difficult location given its geography, but literally nothing went wrong with the build.”

Andrew describes the intricate concrete construction process, saying that after the extensive foundation was poured, the concrete walls were built and poured in situ a layer at a time, with container upon container of boxing panels. “As a result, when you’re in the bedrooms there’s no noise at all,” says Andrew. “Overlooking Lake Pearson, the weather can be blowing, but you’ve got this feeling of safety inside. People comment on that all the time.” The layers of concrete have been left exposed, with no Gib or plasterboard anywhere and virtually no paint.

The interiors are highly textured and provide a warm tonal feel, while enhancing the experience of the weight of the cast concrete wall elements. The interior is finished with a sustainable Southland beech cladding and the carpentry alone took around one year to complete. Everything is grand and oversized, but feels just right, from the ceilings to the eaves and the patios.

Many of the alpine-themed fixtures and fittings are made locally, from beds made from reclaimed earthquake-stricken rimu to joinery and light fittings. Even the crockery was made especially for the lodge. All these details make for a highly refined luxury feel.

When asked about his favourite aspects of the lodge, Andrew states there are two sides to acknowledge. “This is such a special part of the world – the location itself is just spectacular,” he says. “The whole view is amazing and the way the home has been designed to represent that sort of New Zealand bond is fantastic. And then there’s that feeling of comfort. From the moment guests arrive, they just feel relaxed.”

The Observer newspaper named Flockhill Homestead one of the world’s most sustainable hotels, saying it epitomises “a commitment to protecting our collective home”. Without a doubt, this abode is a masterclass in sustainable agriculture and show- stopping design. In 2023, the home received multiple awards, including Te Ka ̄hui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects, New Zealand Architecture Hospitality Award and the New Zealand Commercial Project Gold Award in the Tourism and Leisure category.

With these rave reviews, the owners are now working on expanding their luxury offering to include 14 high-end villas further down the property. These are currently under construction. In addition, a destination restaurant is underway, with opening planned for December 2024.

Juxtaposing its grand and magnificent construction, this home is a sympathetic addition to the landscape, that enriches rather than diminishes it. It is a place of rest and tranquillity, allowing its visitors to dream, rejuvenate and rest within the breathtaking environment.

Beyond the grey

The PeterFell coloured concrete walls are one of the standout features of this home. The innovative use of colour in concrete is used to create that feeling of being at one with the land.

Involved in this project

Hoogervorst Builders

Warren and Mahoney

Niveau Pools and Construction

Rough Milne Mitchell Landscape Architects

Monmouth Glass Studio



CS Roofing Canterbury

House of Joinery

Ruamoko Solutions