For Anglophiles, Reading & Other Authors

The Best Reading/Writing Retreat You’ve Never Heard Of

There were many memorable moments during our recent trip to New Zealand, including tubing through Glowworm caves, riding the luge, hiking in a volcanic valley and even spending a couple of nights in a quirky converted train carriage.

But there’s one place where both my husband and I are especially keen to return:

Barberry Hill, New Zealand
Barberry Hill
is a small dairy farm tucked away in a quiet corner of the north island, overlooked by the stunning Mount Taranaki. Owners Pete and Marg picked this beautiful spot for their “retirement” but are now busier than ever with Dolly’s Milk. A raw milk operation, this means the cows are milked, the milk is cooled (not homogenised nor pasteurised) and then you buy it directly at the farm gate, from a rather nifty 24-hour self-service machine.
dollysAnd even better: you can stay here. Not content with the adventure of moving (yes, on a truck) their own house from the Hawke’s Bay area of the island, Pete and Marg also built two barn-like structures on the farm for guests, “The Barn” and “The Shed”:

The Shed & The BarnWe stayed in The Shed (above left) and the moment I walked into the lovely, light-filled space I had two thoughts:

  • This would make a perfect place for a writing retreat, and
  • I wish I’d booked more than two nights.

Your perfect reading/writing spot is immaculately clean, tastefully decorated and equipped with everything you might need, including full kitchen, barbecue and laundry facilities.

The ShedIt offers a deck if it’s warm, a wood stove if it’s cold, a huge window seat for snuggling & reading, a large table for working, flawless wifi and views: approximately 270 degrees of gorgeous, creativity-inspriring views.

Barberry HillOf course, you don’t have to spend all your time sequestered in your luxury garret. You can watch the herd being milked (every cow has a name!), hang out with the new-born calves, wander around the farm, or stretch your legs with a more challenging assault on Mount Taranaki. Marg provides a delicious and varied breakfast basket, but the town of Stratford is only 3 km away for your other supplies.

Incidentally, don’t just take my word for it. Here are the current TripAdvisor ratings from the select few who have been lucky enough to discover Barberry Hill:

TripAdvisor ratings of Barberry HillFrankly, I can’t understand why this place isn’t fully booked. If you’re heading for New Zealand – or can come up with an excuse to travel there for a writing retreat you’ll never forget – you really can’t go wrong. I’m already trying to work out when I can go back.

We paid in full for our stay at Barberry Hill and no compensation was received for this post. Photos are either mine or from

I’m linking this post to the Fiction Writers Blog Hop, hosted monthly by Julie Valerie on her book blog. Click here to return to the hop.

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9 Comment

  1. Reply
    April J Harris
    January 26, 2016 at 12:26 am

    New Zealand is definitely on my list – but I had no idea specifically where I wanted to go there. Barberry Hill sounds fantastic. Now it is on my wish list too!

  2. Reply
    Pauline Wiles
    January 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

    One slight problem with New Zealand is it’s as big as the UK, so seeing it all is a challenge. We confined our visit to the north island but the south looks spectacular. So next time I think we’ll visit the south, and somehow add on a Barberry Hill bit too 🙂

  3. Reply
    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    January 27, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I have a HUGE smile across my face – this post is fabulous! I think you may have stumbled into something here, Pauline. I nominate YOU to travel the world and introduce the writing community to wonderful little places that make perfect writing retreats! This post is FABULOUS! Sign me up! I wanna go.

    1. Reply
      January 27, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Julie, that would be such a terrific job! Naturally, I’d have to write at least a chapter in each location, to make sure it was truly suitable.

  4. Reply
    Lynne Crookes Pepper
    January 27, 2016 at 10:20 am

    The view blew me away! I would love to visit. Even better, stay for a month or so & finish off my novel. All I need now is a fairy godmother!

    1. Reply
      January 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Lynne, yes, a fairy godmother would be very helpful. It looks like you might be located in the UK: it was a long trip from California, but twice as arduous if starting from England!

  5. Reply
    Barbara Barth
    January 27, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    OMG! My farm fantasy and writing fantasy all in one location. How wonderful! Of course, my other fantasy which became a reality, living with six dogs will keep me writing at home! Thanks for making me dream, however!

  6. Reply
    Mary Chris Escobar
    January 30, 2016 at 8:09 am

    This looks AMAZING! The loft space is beautiful, and I love the idea of “visiting” the baby calves. Also a “breakfast basket” each morning. I think the only problem would be having to leave!

  7. […] on the other side of the world, if you enjoyed these British options, you might love this gorgeous New Zealand dairy farm which stole my […]

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