I'm a redheaded mama with four lovely daughters. We're based in southern Australia and travel in a small, colourful housebus — meeting inspiring people, learning lots and re-thinking everything. I feel passionately about spirituality, good design, alternative education, discussing death and conscious parenting.
While I was hitchhiking down to Auckland, my driver told me about a fantastic treehouse restaurant outside Warkworth, and I knew that I had to see it for myself! The Redwoods Treehouse is a whimsical, organic structure built like a pod around the trunk of a massive redwood tree.
Casual tourists can approach the Redwoods Treehouse and take pictures from outside the gate.
The Redwoods Treehouse was originally constructed as part of a marketing campaign to promote New Zealand’s Yellow Pages. Landowner Ken Holmes was warned by a friend that he was going to be approached with by the marketing company with a fantastic idea. “They’re not pulling your leg,” he was assured.
Here’s the story of the treehouse’s construction:
Once the marketing campaign was finished, the ownership of the facility was turned over to the landowners — Ken Holmes and Maree Clement. Clement says that although the treehouse is a fantastic opportunity, it’s a mixed blessing. Her background is in finance and Holmes runs a busy logging company. So managing a restaurant has been a steep learning curve.
Located just 45 minutes north of Auckland, the restaurant operated daily for three months, but council withdrew consent for public access to the facility because of traffic concerns. The property’s driveway has limited visibility where it joins the busy State Highway 1. Now, access to the restaurant is permitted only by a chartered coach and through Experience Group who manage the facility’s private bookings.
When I toured the facility, it wasn’t set up for customers. The tables and chairs are packed away, and leaves litter the walkway. However, the structure is like something from a dream — the height, the materials, the shape and the location.
The floor of the pod is ten metres up in the air and accessible by a sixty-metre elevated walkway.
Maree Clement agreed to show me through this spectacular venue.
The owners have built a kitchen and toilet facility to comply with council standards.
The commercial kitchen is small but adequate for the restaurant's catering of between 30 and 40 guests.
A long, wheelchair-accessible ramp leads to the restaurant venue. Lights are recessed into the ramp floor, and spotlights are hidden in the trees.
The shape of the structure is like two halves of a lemon, placed slightly to the side of each other, so the floor plan is the same shape as a galaxy — a double spiral around the centre tree trunk.
Timber ribs make the structure completely light and airy. Clear plastic blinds can be pulled down in inclement weather to keep guests warm and dry.
The main ribs are made from laminated redwood that came from the same site as the restaurant.
The view from the restaurant floor is of the surrounding redwood forest.
The pod is beautiful in daytime, but it becomes otherworldly at night.
Absolutely stunning! (Image from publicity website.)
The redwood trees are about seventy years old.
Council currently mandates that a charter bus is used by diners to minimise the traffic entering and exiting the propertty. Through the trees, I can see a roadworks crew building a new access road to the restaurant. Once it is completed, guests will be able to use their own vehicles to approach the Treehouse.
The owners of the property occasionally log other redwood trees on the property. They are exported to South Korea for coffin-making because they are such a lovely timber.
Most of the timber in the construction of the treehouse came from the same property.
The Redwoods Treehouse is available for private dining, corporate functions, photo shoots and special events like weddings.
If you’re in the Auckland area and need an exclusive, intimate venue, this is the one to book. Redwoods Treehouse is a beautiful venue for a special function, and I would like to one day visit it in action!