Waipiata Country Hotel & Tussock Lodge

The Waipiata Country Hotel and Tussock Lodge owner/operators have a clear vision: They want accommodation and dining guests to feel welcome as soon as they step over the threshold. From the visual impact of the buildings’ interiors and the friendly staff, through to the locally-sourced food and super comfortable beds.
Waipiata Country Hotel & Tussock Lodge

Mark Button and Nikki Meyer

April 2011 is etched in Mark’s mind. It’s the month he and wife Nikki embarked on the Otago Central Rail Trail. That simple break from the long hours of Mark’s corporate job triggered a complete change in lifestyle for the couple.

Mark: We couldn’t find accommodation in the areas we wanted. Two months later – back home in Egmont Village– I said to Nikki that I wouldn’t mind seeing if there were any Rail Trail accommodation opportunities that we could operate from a distance. We came down in the July and experienced Central in winter – hoar frosts and bonspiels. The plan changed and we decided on a lifestyle change, instead. We bought Tussock Lodge in October 2011 – it’s now Qualmark four-star rated – then the Waipiata Country Hotel in 2015, which allowed us to provide food, as well as accommodation. On any given day, you never know who’s going to come through the door. And, you soon recognise that not everyone has had a good day. It’s our job to make sure the rest of their day makes up for it.

Waipiata Country Hotel & Tussock Lodge Waipiata Country Hotel & Tussock Lodge Waipiata Country Hotel & Tussock Lodge


Central Otago value: Having integrity

Mark and Nikki believe the integrity of their business is best demonstrated by the openness and honesty of their staff, who all come from the Waipiata township and surrounds.

When asked about the area, we have to be honest and not stretch it. If we don’t know an answer, we find out. This area is full of heritage buildings and has a 150-year-old history. We don’t want to play with that. With regard to any developments we undertake, they are in keeping with that. Our buildings blend in, rather than jump out.


Central Otago value: Making a difference

Central Otago’s environs encourage inspiration and vision. Mark and Nikki are aware of that and the part they play in helping guests get the most from their time in the area.

If a guest asks for something, rather than the first reaction being “No, we can’t do that”, it’s “Yes, we can” or “Let me go and see”. We want everyone that comes through to leave a little more enriched than when they arrived. Making a difference also impacts on our logistics. We consciously recycle all our packaging and work on minimising waste. 


Central Otago value: Adding value

Is there a better way? This is key to operating a sustainable, growing business – especially when you are an operator on the high-profile Otago Central Rail Trail and especially in an era where social media soon highlights businesses’ strengths and weaknesses.

I can’t overstate the comfort of our beds. The Hobbit movie crew were our first guests and they all commented on the beds. Another “value add” for us is our extremely popular “Cook your own barbeque” packs. Each pack contains locally-sourced salmon steak or aged Porterhouse beef, salad greens and freshly made BBQ salads with a very tasty ciabatta bun. We do about 1000 barbeque packs a year. People love them.” 

Waipiata Country Hotel & Tussock Lodge