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One of New Zealand’s most internationally successful ballerinas has returned home with her civil engineer husband to create a spot of luxury and solace in the Bay of Plenty.

Delia (née Mathews) and Josh Harris have built a series of architecturally designed cedar-clad eco cabins powered by solar energy and rainwater on an 18ha bush-laden property set beside the Omanawa River.

The couple have aptly named the retreat Watercli as cli s shelter the valley from the wind, creating its own micro-climate, and the river provides a great swimming spot.

It’s a slice of unexpected wilderness amongst a patchwork of orchards, making the descent into the valley uplifting as well as jaw-dropping. On the day Good visited, mist was rising in the valley against a backdrop of sunshine, white cli s and tree ferns.

Here there’s no noise except for birdsong, which keeps you company as you luxuriate in a private outdoor bath while soaking up the serenity and the view – even in the rain, which adds to the sensory experience.

Wander along the road after dark and you’ll see thousands of glow worms lining the banks.

The eco cabins themselves are filled with luxurious comforts, from flu y white towels to gorgeous linen and automatic blinds you can activate from the comfort of the bed. The beautifully tiled bathrooms have showers, underfloor heating and flushing toilets. Each cabin also has a heat pump and fully equipped kitchen.

“It’s a bit of luxury and somewhere to feel calm and just breathe in the fresh air,” says Delia.

The new venture is run in conjunction with Delia’s parents Sally and Tim, and since arriving back in New Zealand in September 2020, the quartet have put in countless hours to plan and build Watercli ’s luxurious cabins.

More than 10,000 native seedlings have also been cultivated and planted out on site, and access roads have been put in at gruelling physical and financial expense. The road which leads 1km from reception to the cabins took 712 wheelbarrows of concrete just to complete the first downhill slope!

Josh’s project management skills were put to the test as he co-ordinated a team of 25 builders and dozens of design and engineering experts to set up Watercli ’s own power and water supply. “We have built huge stand-alone solar arrays and created a little power station of our own,” says Josh. “We use all the roofs to harvest water which flows through our own filtration system. It’s been a daunting project but I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.” watercli





SCG Media