Eagle Ridge — To A Year Well Done

Happy first birthday, Eagle Ridge! We talk to owners, Nigel and Deb, and manager, Briana, about the highlights of their first year.

INTERVIEW JENNY RUDD / PHOTOS SALINA GALVAN + SUPPLIED

So, what’s been the high­light of the year?

B: Well, I don’t know about Nigel and Deb, but mine was undoubt­ed­ly get­ting mar­ried here at Eagle Ridge. Apart from the fact it was the most spe­cial of days, it has been so help­ful in my job, as I now know exact­ly what it’s like for our brides and grooms. It gives them real con­fi­dence to know I’ve walked that path.

D: See­ing Bri­ana get mar­ried was an absolute high­light for us, too. She works incred­i­bly hard, so it was love­ly to be able to provide the same ser­vice for her that we give to all our brides and grooms, and know how spe­cial her day was going to be.

That view! It must be hard get­ting every­one to turn away and walk inside.

N: It’s pret­ty mes­meris­ing, isn’t it? Actu­al­ly, you can see when a heli­copter takes off from Tau­ran­ga Air­port to bring peo­ple here, and fol­low them all the way here.

B: As Nigel’s been a air­line pilot for 30 years, he always encour­ages the heli­copters to come in very close, which can be a bit scary!

Watch­ing the arrival of heli­copters from Tau­ran­ga Air­port

D: We had a fan­tas­tic wed­ding recent­ly, and the groom arrived in a heli­copter in great dra­ma. The guests had been picked up in a bus from Wharf Street, ‘mys­tery bus tour’ style. They had no idea where they were going. They stood here and watched the heli­copter come from afar, and the groom got out to the band play­ing James Bond music. It was all very glam­orous. Then we could hear the sound of an ice cream van get closer and closer, and the bride arrived in a Mr Whip­py van! Every­one ate ice cream while the bride and groom exchanged their vows.

Do you ever find any­thing odd in the lodge after you’ve had guests stay?

N: Only every week! Actu­al­ly, I near­ly found some­thing very inter­est­ing at one wed­ding last autumn. All the guests were up at the func­tion cen­tre, and I was pot­ter­ing about in the kitchen here in the lodge. There were two guests who hadn’t quite made it up to join the rest of the par­ty. He was play­ing the piano and his friend was singing beau­ti­ful­ly next to him. Clear­ly, the emo­tion of the music got the bet­ter of them, because as I walked past the down­stairs guest bed­room ten min­utes lat­er, I saw they were just about to make use of the beau­ti­ful­ly made-up bed. I gave them a quick jol­ly up, and told them to hoof off and join the oth­ers. Deb had just spent the morn­ing mak­ing up that bed. I wasn’t in any hur­ry to find clean sheets and remake it for an amorous pianist!

The gor­geous Bri­ana mar­ries her beau at Eagle Ridge

Sounds like you get some pret­ty live­ly par­ties up here.

B: We have a full range, to be hon­est. We’ve had some seri­ous­ly wild wed­dings, gig­gly and boozy, with entire par­ties fly­ing straight in from over­seas, hav­ing nev­er seen the venue. I have a great job – all my cus­tomers are peo­ple hav­ing the time of their lives! It prob­a­bly doesn’t help when Nigel gets behind the bar. We’ve had to throw him out, as he’s such a gen­er­ous host; he keeps fill­ing glass­es quick­er than peo­ple can drink them.

I heard about a beau­ti­ful fash­ion show you host­ed here, too.

D: That was such a spe­cial evening, and very pop­u­lar, too. Trelise Coop­er came down to sup­port the Wendy’s Bou­tique fundrais­er for Homes of Hope (see the pics in Spot­ted on page 20). As soon as she arrived with her team and saw our beau­ti­ful lodge, even though they’d booked a hotel in town, she asked if they could stay the night. We were already pret­ty full, but how can you say no to such a love­ly lady, who’s here to sup­port such a great cause?

N: At the end of the evening, her whole team col­lapsed, exhaust­ed after their efforts. They were starv­ing and it was pret­ty late, so we ordered piz­za. The deliv­ery boy wouldn’t come up to us, so I sped down the hill and deliv­ered the piz­zas myself to the­se love­ly ladies. They thought it was hilar­i­ous.

It’s like a whole dif­fer­ent world going on up here, in the hills.

N: It is! It’s such a mag­i­cal place to come to work to every day. There’s so much going on here all the time that you’d nev­er guess from the dri­ve­way in sleepy Ohauiti. This morn­ing, we are prepar­ing lunch for Jaguar. They bring guests up who get to dri­ve their sleek, pow­er­ful new cars round all the windy roads up here, have a deli­cious lunch, then dri­ve back home. Then this after­noon, I’ll be mak­ing sure our grounds look per­fect, as we are pro­duc­ing 360 videos for our web­site. It’s impos­si­ble to get that won­drous, ever-chang­ing view into one image!

Deb, Bri­ana and Nigel, plan­ning the next Eagle Ridge event
Eagle Ridge lodge (right), and a pic­turesque walk up to the func­tion cen­tre (left)

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