In the Foothills of Mid Canterbury, a new and exciting tourism venture has recently been launched. Rata Escape, as the letters spell out, offers Rural Adventure Tours and Accommodation.
The accommodation base of Rata Lodge is located in Staveley and this “boutique barnstay” is secluded in a beautiful bush garden under the grand presence of Mount Somers.
Rata Escape offers custom-made day adventures exploring the spectacular Mid Canterbury backcountry. Activities include guided hiking, mountain biking, 4WD exploring, farm tours and creative workshops. There is the option of fully catered or self-contained stays.
For the two enthusiastic business partners, this venture is a step into new territory and “a way to keep our grey matter working” they add, laughing.
The friends, Judith Sommerville and Elspeth Jaine, dreamt up the concept during their weekly jaunts with like-minded tramping buddies of the “Foothills Social Climbers”.
Previously, Judith has spent many years teaching at Mount Hutt College. Now she coordinates the Boost Programme and supports the team of volunteers assisting with literacy in Ashburton Primary Schools.
Elspeth has stepped back from her career in physiotherapy where until a few months ago she was visiting older Mid Canterbury residents to encourage them with the Falls Prevention Programme. She sees their new venture along the same continuum of promoting activity and wellness as we age. “I imagine our adventure tours appealing to people of middle age and older, possibly groups of friends on an annual trip away together. We will take care of the planning with very comfortable lodgings, good food and interesting outdoor options enabling guests to explore this stunning and uncrowded corner of New Zealand. And we will throw in a good measure of fun!”
Both women have a creative streak and they are keen to involve local artists in their venture. They are offering workshops in watercolour painting, floral art, cheesemaking and limestone sculpting.
Judith and Elspeth are excited to be gearing up for the coming season and to have the opportunity to share their love for nature and the outdoors with visitors. They encourage you to check out their website at www.rataescape.co.nz and to join them as they get out and “Breathe in the Backcountry”!