COAST & COUNTRY, THURSDAY, April 4th, 2001


 Remote lodge provides many challenges

Charlie’s version of a log cabin – luxury in the wilderness. 

Coast & Country reporter Lesley Board describes her stay at Charlie’s Place on a recent trek through some of New Zealand’s most isolated country, with backdrop of rugged mountains everywhere along the Hollyford River.


Caption: Charlie’s version of a log cabin – luxury in the wilderness.
Caption: The outdoor bath was floated down river - water gets heated by a mix of solar power and an old boiler but there are two other bathrooms indoors.
Caption: A backdrop of rugged mountains is everywhere along the Hollyford River.

Ask any Hollyford tramper about Charlie’s Place and they get a faraway gleam in their eye. Then they smile and remember the sheer unexpected bliss of dropping their packs and boots to enjoy the hospitality of what is probably the most remote B&B in New Zealand.
It takes 5-7 hours to pack in from the end of the Hollyford Road in Fiordland to meet the jet boat that will take you almost to Charlie’s front door. If you walk the whole distance it will take you 3 days. Even when you head up beautiful Lake McKerrow you could still miss it, because Charlie’s Place is hidden from sight with ferns and bush pressing in on every side. It’s a remarkable place but no more so than its owner Charlie Paterson (35) and the tale he has to tell.

His was a test case – the first application under the Resource Management Act to build and operate a B&B and homestay on freehold land within the magnificent 3 million acre Fiordland National Park.
“Buying the land was the easy bit – getting permission to develop was another matter, with opposition coming from all kinds of people. Southern Health for instance opposed me on the grounds of noise pollution during the building process! I am still trying to figure out who was around to be disturbed – it seemed a frivolous waste of taxpayers’ money. Nobody who has actually been to visit since Charlie’s Place was built has ever said I shouldn’t have done it.”

In fact most people are bowled over by the sheer guts and determination of the man and by the sensitive way he has built his hideaway. Nothing jars with nature, his hospitality is legendary

and all he needs now is more feet beating a path to his door.
In the beginning, Charlie says it was the chance to make a profit which made him search out and buy 3 of the 5 freehold sections on the lake shore - part of the ill-fated Jamestown settlement of 1870. Two of them were owned by families who had held on to them for generations.
Why would they want to sell I asked. The answer – because they didn’t believe anyone would ever get permission to develop. But at the end of the day, after numerous controls were slapped on (including a scenic protection order) there was nothing to stop him under the District Plan. Charlie had won his first battle – at a cost.
Then came the expensive task of helicoptering in materials for the 149sqm kitset therma-panel home on which he did 70 percent of the work himself. By the time he had paid for 43 chopper loads of material from the end of the road to McKerrow Island then barged it up the lake on 44 gallon drums, he had run out of money.
“I still had to get the balustrades and handrails on site so tried floating them down the Hollyford River in mid-winter attached to my little yellow boat. The boat

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