Those of you who read this blog know that I have a weird juxtaposition of luxury and getting off the beaten track. My heart soars at the site of reflections in a lake, a mist covered mountain or wildflowers on a winding country lane. Equally, I go full Scarlett O’Hara in any fancy location and flounce around like I may never leave. For me then The Portage was the absolute smashing together of everything I love in a luxurious resort in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
The Marlborough Sounds has long been one of my favourite places. As soon as Interislander cruises into the tip of the Sounds I am glued to the vista unfolding before my eyes (seriously worth the trip just for this). But up until now the view from Interislander was the only side of the sounds I had seen.
So to see more of this wonderland of drowned river valleys was my must do of our trip to the top of the South Island.
We chose The Portage without really fully acknowledging what we were getting on so many levels.
Firstly, we massively under estimated just how spectacular this place would be. The views from both our floor and the kids floor (we stayed in the Korimako 2 Bedroom if you want to have this view too) were just the most stunning views I have ever had from a hotel.
I had expected that on our drive out there we would be looking out over the Sounds the whole time like you do on Interislander. But the most we got was taunting little snippets through the trees as we wound our way around hairpin curves that got even the GPS dizzy and disoriented.
So when you arrive at Portage Bay everything just opens up and you are looking out over Kenepuru Sound at what can only be described as paradise.
Krystal declares at this point that she’s going to live here when she is a grown up. Excellent I say, because I’m coming to visit.
And how ever beautiful that view was it only got better as the sun set over us eating dinner on the balcony of the restaurant looking down over the pool.
Although you normally get a great sunset or sunrise I didn’t want to chance that this place wouldn’t have both so I slept with the curtains open. It’s a great trick if you don’t want to commit to a sunrise that maybe isn’t great because the light will wake you up and you can choose to close the curtains or go and join it. I definitely joined it!
To say it was magical doesn’t do it a bit of justice. I started out taking photos from the deck and then quickly decided I needed to be closer to everything so moved down to the shore line.
There were little bubbles and dances under the water like little sprites doing what ever magic sprites do in drowned valleys. They made me giggle, enthralled with the magic of it all. Eventually I saw the tip of a stingray wing – but only for a moment as they kept making their waves and bubbles under the sand.
I feel like no matter how long you were here there would be something new that you hadn’t seen and would make your heart do that little happy dance, your toes curl and your eyes light up.
Another thing that we had underestimated was how remote The Portage is. There are no shops, no fuel – nothing – for miles. And miles here are longer than usual on account of all the twists and turns which will see you travelling at around 20km for most of the trip.
The apartments – while absolutely stunning (and as a bonus for our family able to comfortably sleep 5) don’t have cooking facilities so expect to get well acquainted with one or both of the two restaurants on site.
Now if windy roads aren’t your thing there is another option – you can grab a Water Taxi back to Picton which is a super quick 20 minute beat across the Sounds. It is a bit pricey at $30 per person but to save an hour and a half of windy roads it’s totally worth it. James took one for the team on the way out and he drove out while me and Bella and Sophia water taxied across.
Our tips to get the most out of it…
- If you don’t have to take your car the water taxi is the way to go
- The room rates are really reasonable for how amazing this place is but prepare to double that if you are dining at the restaurants for dinner and breakfast
- If you do want to eat in your room (an excellent choice with views like these) – I’d recommend a platter with loads of yummy deli food that you can grab from Nelson or Picton and a bottle (or 2) of wine or grab some mussels from nearby Havelock.
- Get up early for the sun rise
- Like everywhere we stayed at in Nelson and Tasman we wished we had of had two days – if you are lucky enough to have a couple of days to spend here grab one of their kayaks and get out exploring