The traditional definition of a lodge essentially centres around a lodge being a rural dwelling of some form, often used by groups of people taking part in activities related to the land. It is this description of the meaning of lodge that offers what is, perhaps, the basis of a more contemporary take on the concept, and one that has developed in New Zealand as a thing of luxury, of isolation and of the wilderness.

The vernacular of the New Zealand lodge is very much associated with the enjoyment and appreciation of our spectacular scenery and remote locations. Designing visitor accommodation for these settings is a burgeoning market, but one that is narrowing somewhat in terms of its vernacular.

Architectural designer Steve Humpherson of Sorted Architecture says the demand for camping-style accommodation with an element of luxury is the most sought-after at the moment. “We have such beautiful landscapes in New Zealand and people want to get out there and enjoy them, but at the same time a lot of people are wanting to do that with some level of luxury involved,” Steve says.

Sorted Architecture is in the process of transforming Milford Sound Lodge, an extremely remote accommodation facility in the Fiordland National Park. In line with the market demands, the requirement for this project was to create a series of semi-self contained units, each with its own ensuite, while the main ‘lodge’ space accommodates shared areas for guests, and encapsulates the more traditional notion of the lodge as a communal area used by different people who are there to enjoy the surrounds or take part in sporting pursuits on it.

The individual units, each semi self-contained, are a luxurious yet definitive step into the beauty of the national park, harnessing the outdoors and inviting the occupants to contemplate. “The project has so far consisted of 20 luxury studio chalets, which were designed to work optimally within the environment through the careful use of insulating factors and window placement – something that doubles to enhance the feeling of luxurious isolation,” Steve says. A further 14 chalets are due for completion over the next two years. 

Around the country, similar styles of modern lodge have begun to appear in the realms of our relative wilderness. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu sits Aro Ha, a health and wellness retreat 40 minutes out of Queenstown, which is perhaps one of the most notable. Here, semi-detached units sit lightly on the land, their interiors simple but luxurious, and their focus decisively on the surrounding landscape.

And so the meaning and concept of the lodge continues to evolve within and around our landscapes and desire to be at one and within some of the country’s most isolated regions.

Sorted Architecture is an architectural design practice based in Wanaka, a location from which the team draw inspiration from their surrounds, playing with the language of architecture to create contemporary residential and commercial spaces.

Get in touch with Sorted Architecture on ArchiPro for some inspiration, and peruse a selection of their latest projects.