There’s no better name for a hideaway lodge at the end of a winding farm road, buried in native bush near the top of the Kaimai Ranges. If, in fact, you’re a bit of a city slicker with more lazing than hiking in mind, the LT lays on a pretty appealing getaway. The term splendid isolation sits well with this spot, that’s a handy half an hour’s drive from downtown Tauranga.
The focal point of the lodge is really the spacious wood-panelled lounge with a large stone fireplace. Comfy sofas beckon… no better place for a world weary metrosexual to lie about, read a book, sip a wine. The lounge is equipped with books and magazines, board games and cards. Next to the lounge there’s a games room with a ping pong table.
f you’re more energetic and outdoorsy, the Lazy Tramper has bush walks, mountain-biking, and some simple pleasures on its doorstep. The lodge is in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, which has 300 kms of tracks. They range from easy, short and well-trodden to multi-day extended hikes along difficult tracks – more suited to experienced, well-equipped trampers.
Lee and Mark Mudgway have laminated Kaimai Mamaku maps that you can use during your stay. They also have booklets with all the tracks in the park. One of the most popular is the Henderson Tramline, a two to three hour loop from the lodge. The couple will also drop trampers at the start of the Ngamuwahine that connects back to the Henderson Tramline, for a tramp of more like 6.5 hours. Good local mountain bike tracks are about 40 minutes away, including Oropi Grove and Summerhill in the hills behind Welcome Bay.
Something less strenuous? The couple can also direct you to their own tracks that provide about 90 minutes of walking. And just five minutes away are glow worms to visit in the evening, in an old log shoot. There are also ‘plunge pools’ and other swimming holes to ferret out in the bush.
The attractions of the Lazy Tramper have spread largely by word of mouth, as the Mudgways don’t do much advertising these days. Their focus is mainly on groups that range from tramping clubs, to businesses, church groups, and simply – folk who get friends or family together for a getaway. The lodge sleeps 40 and the minimum booking fee is $400 – that’s 16 people at a paltry $25 a head. There are two (heated!) bunk rooms and two more private double rooms.
If you want to book the whole building for your exclusive use – no problem – many people do for birthdays, weddings, etc. One elderly couple from the Waikato have booked the whole lodge out several times for just the two of them - to ‘come and get away from everything,’ says Lee.
Lazy Tramper is self-catering with quality, well-maintained barbecues that reside on the deck at the entrance to the lodge. A lot of people choose this option, but there is also ‘catering on request.’ Lee will marinate lamb or rump, and slow cook it on the Webber-type coals barbecue, with a selection of veges and salad - even desert - for $30 a head. If you’re in lazy mode, you can order a hearty cooked breakfast too.
The Lazy Tramper is so well appointed it can be a bit if a surprise to hardy tramping types used to more spartan accommodation. There’s electric power and heaps of hot water, a small laundry and washing machine. ‘We’ve done it a little bit spoily,’ Lee explains. ‘The old trampers, some of them come up here and go “wow!” ’
The Mudgways have worked hard on the Lazy Tramper that began life as the Tauranga Boy’s College school camp which they purchased in 2003, to begin a huge makeover. Additions, apart from the schist fireplace, include a character wooden floor – rimu recovered from the Waihi RSA.
Oh, and if you really must get on your laptop, perish the thought, the Mudgways have a wireless connection to the outside world.