Relaxing in Raglan

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Beat a retreat Hidden Valley's one-bedroom cottage

For most foreign visitors, the tiny New Zealand town of Raglan, which numbers no more than 4,000 souls, is about one thing only: surfing. Its left-hand point breaks, crashing into the west coast of the North Island, have been legendary since their appearance in the seminal 1966 surfing flick The Endless Summer.

But if struggling through the swells at Whale Bay or Manu Point seems too energetic, Raglan also offers a wonderful opportunity to do not much at all — in the form of the Hidden Valley Luxury Retreat. This bucolic, 12-hectare bolt hole looks out over lush farmland and backs onto established forest. "We're lucky to have a 100-year-old kahikatea forest here," says owner Sue Bellerby, referring to her swaths of native coniferous trees.

Accommodation at Hidden Valley is self-catering, comprising two unpretentious studios and a one-bedroom cottage. The latter comes with its own outdoor hot tub, wireless Internet and a hammock strung up in the trees.

As befits an area with a progressive environmental reputation (Raglan's recycling center is something of a national pioneer, reducing local waste sent to landfill by as much as 75%), Hidden Valley's domestic water needs are supplied by rainwater, solar power is used to operate the pumps and the resort has engaged in extensive tree planting along the local river to help prevent erosion. You can check out the environment at the center of these conservation efforts by walking one of Hidden Valley's many gorgeous trails. Kayaking and golf can also be arranged.

A night at Hidden Valley starts at just over $90. See