Award-winning South Island construction company Rilean has dug the dirt on an all-weather restaurant extension at Walter Peak Homestead marking the final stage of owner Real Journeys’ expansion of the tourism offering.
The new 160 square meter outdoor pergola, which is being project managed by Rilean shareholder and director Steven Dent, will increase the restaurant’s capacity from 200 to around 350 people depending on set-up such as cocktail or dinner style.
Construction work has started and will be completed by end of September in time for the busy summer season.
Designed by Southern Hospitality architects the pergola structure will seamlessly extend from the main Homestead building and features PVC front and sides -- rather than traditional joinery or framing.
Custom-designed especially for Walter Peak, the state-of-the-art structure is “one-of-a-kind” and is mainly being constructed offsite.
“Logistically this is quite a challenging project as there’s lots of aspects which are being custom made off-site so the lead-in time is quite long to get things made in time. Once all the pieces are ready we’ll move it over to Walter Peak and complete the build there,” said Mr Dent.
“One of the most unique features is the electronic Insol Louvre roof which adds to the outdoor-yet indoor feel and has automated rain sensors which close the roof if it starts to rain.”
The structure consists of three PVC panels which can be opened or closed individually depending on the weather or on a group’s request.
There are no wrinkles in the PVC panels and the material is so state-of-the-art it’s “like you’re looking out of a large window. The front panels are three metres wide and completely translucent enabling guests to fully enjoy the views whether the panels are closed or open.
The construction is anchored at one end by a custom made fireplace which generates significant heat on cold winter nights and acts as a feature of the room.
At the opposite end a stack-stone wood fired BBQ aesthetically balances the fireplace and adds a unique visual element to the dining experience. Wood collected from Walter Peak will keep the BBQ and open fire roaring.
“Even though the building doesn’t have solid sides there are still a number of tradespeople involved that need to work together to ensure it functions fully. The permanent outside kitchen is another great aspect which adds to the uniqueness of the build.
Using local schist stone it’ll look quite spectacular once finished,” said Mr Dent.
Real Journeys purchased the land and facilities that underpin its Walter Peak operations from its landlords Convelle Enterprises Ltd last year.
Since then it has made a significant investment in upgrading the product offering with the refurbishments to the Homestead including a new chef and gourmet BBQ-style menu.
Real Journeys operations manager Luke Taylor said the pergola concept was conceived to expand the existing restaurant facility and enable people to sit outside during colder months.
“We have the most amazing view back towards Queenstown, which are unique to Walter Peak. Rather than extend the Homestead building, we wanted to create a permanent patio-style structure that maximised the stunning views and fine weather days,” said Mr Taylor.
“The all-weather space will complement the environment so it feels like you’re outside but actually you’re under cover, protected and warm. It will also enhance the Homestead, which was re-created in 1976 after the original one burnt down.”
“The Argentinian-style Parilla stone BBQ has been ‘kiwized’ for Real Journeys and is a real focal point of the building. All of the meat served at Walter Peak will be cooked outside on the BBQ area,” he said.
“We’re bringing gourmet cooking outdoors and delivering a very real Kiwi experience for our guests. They’ll be able to watch our award-winning chefs expertly prepare and cook offering an interactive element to our dining experience.
“Within the last 12 months we’ve invested significantly in our dining product and we’re pleased to unveil this next stage.
“It’s dining under the stars with all the comforts of a world-class restaurant and the food to match,” said Mr Taylor.