Hotel’s Hillside Garden — Sherwood, Queenstown

— A glimpse into the grounds of the Sherwood hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is packed with fancy high end luxury accommodation. But sometimes you just want some space to breathe and to wander. The Sherwood Hotel, a renovated 1980s motor lodge, has forged its own unique personality, embracing its quirky past and sitting well within its own niche.





Sherwood Hotel was built in 1985 as part of a chain of mock-tudor motor-inns across New Zealand. The fashion was to build something new that looked colonial. True to style, Sherwood Hotel was built with aluminium joinery, green flecked carpet and pink formica bathrooms. It’s saving grace was the stunning location – on a steep lakeside section with sweeping views across the Remarkables.

Most people saw it as a very nice piece of land with a problem on it. For 30 years it was a middling place of accommodation in one of New Zealand’s most stunning locations. Now owner, Adam Smith, saw it as an opportunity to do something a little different when he purchased it.


Sherwood needed a bit of loosening up. Cobbles in the central driveway were pulled up and replaced with lime to create a big open place to sit in the sun and have a beer.  The leaking, old swimming pool was filled with gravel and turned into a conversation pit with comfy cushions and a big open fire.

The old motel has been completely transformed. There are touches of old, but in place of a tired, dingy dining room there is a beautiful, timbered restaurant that grows its own food, cooks its meat over charcoal and serves a handpicked list of natural wines to wash it down with. In the evening, the space transforms into a live music venue.

The rooms aren’t all new and swish, but they have their own personality. Blankets are made from New Zealand merino wool, along with recycled kilim rugs turned into cushions. The beds are made from macrocarpa – a sustainable local timber that was originally planted for windbreaks on New Zealand farms.



Smith’s philosophy is refreshing. There are plenty of fancy hotels and restaurants with no soul. The team at Sherwood believe that a hotel and restaurant are, really, only as good as the things that happen in them and the people they attract.

Sherwood is a place for the community as well as tourists. They have even developed a swapping system where neighbours can bring in extra vegetables and get a jar of jam back or credit in the restaurant.

Sherwood was redeveloped with sustainability as a core focus. Rooms are lined with pressed cork panels – it’s carbon negative, insulating, and adds a beautiful moodiness to the place. New carpet is made from recycled fishing nets. If the original lino couldn’t be kept, it was replaced with rubber made from recycled car tyres. The curtains are repurposed Italian army blankets. Organic waste goes into a bio-digestor out the back, which breaks everything down to a rich black composty dust.


Sherwood’s trump card is its grounds. They were previously covered with bracken, wilding pines and an old abandoned car. The team has since refreshed the area. A very large vegetable garden is front and centre (which also forms a handy circuit for a bike track). Sherwood employs a full time horticulturalist to grow for the restaurant, to maximise what of their menu is grown in-house.



The restaurant reflects the philosophy of Sherwood. Things don’t travel very far before you eat them.  As much as possible is grown in the vegetable garden on site. The growing seasons in Queenstown are incredibly short because of the southerly position. Particular varieties of plants come and go very quickly.

Executive Chef Chris Scott has a real passion and wealth of knowledge around seasons. He knows what grows well; and when and how to best showcase this through the menus. The planning process is extensive and the team harvest twice a day for the restaurant.

The restaurant team otherwise forage for produce from all over Central Otago – wild thyme and rosemary, highly fragrant and full of flavour from the craggy hills of the Kawarau Gorge, mushrooms from a secret spot somewhere above Lake Wakatipu, fruit from apple trees that grow wild around Queenstown, planted by early settlers in a bid to give themselves something to eat.

If they can’t grow it or forage it, they buy it locally. They source honey from local apiarists, and in season they go picking cherries from near Cromwell. Apricots are sourced from up the road; free-range pork and lamb from the South Island.

WORDS: Tristan Sage

Sherwood is located on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, about 3.5 kilometres out of Queenstown — 554 Frankton Road, Queenstown 9300, Aotearoa, New Zealand