Justine Tyerman stayed at Luxe Houses’ New Zealand flagship property, the spectacular Jagged Edge near Queenstown…
My fingers trace the pale quartz veins snaking through the silver grey schist. The rough texture is a radical contrast to the sleek gleaming glass and steel beyond the tall opaque door. It’s slightly musty, softly lit and a cool 13 degrees C in the cave, a respite from the dazzling heat of the Central Otago summer sun.
Twin eagles stand sentinel at the stacked stone entranceway, guarding bottles of wine from all over the world, lying in an orderly fashion on wooden racks either side of me. The polished concrete floor feels smooth under my bare feet and there’s a light dusting of silver powder on my toes from the schist. It reminds me of childhood holidays in nearby Arrowtown when we would come home covered in fine silt at the end of a long day of building rock dams on the river.
I marvel at the construction of this wine cave, chiselled deep into the mountain behind Luxe Houses’ Jagged Edge near Queenstown, our home for the week.
In fact, the whole property is an astonishing feat of design and engineering. One of the owners and designers, mechanical engineer Julian McPike tells me 8000 cubic metres of rock were excavated to form a platform to build the house so a few extra metres tunnelling into the cliff to create the wine cellar was a minor task by comparison.
Secured from above by 10 steel bars connected to anchors drilled 20 metres into the rock, the house appears to hang from the schist cliff like the prow of a ship stranded high above the turquoise-green waters of Lake Wakatipu.
The sharp triangular form, with two walls embedded in the schist base rock, challenges every rule of plumb. The towering glass walls jut out from the base at an 18-degree angle soaring to a lofty 9.2 metres at the apex of the triangle. Floor-to-ceiling steel rods and heavy-duty triangular bolts hold the glass wall panels in place.
Side-on, the structure is so transparent, it is almost invisible. You can see through it which allows it to blend into the surrounding mountains, lake and forest. It’s a house of light, reflections and space.
The interior design is open plan and the décor deliberately understated. There’s no need for man-made adornments when the massive glass walls and windows bring nature’s ever-changing masterpieces right inside the house – the iconic, craggy saw-teeth of the Remarkables dominate the landscape rising perpendicularly from Lake Wakatipu, while a trio of lesser-known mountains, broad Cecil, tall Walter and rotund Nicholas, stand at a deferential distance.
Nowhere are you safe from breath-taking panoramas, least of all in the three sumptuous bedrooms on the mezzanine floor suspended from the ceiling above the living area. Electric blinds descend from somewhere in the ceiling to cover the glass walls at night but I could not bear to shut out the grandeur of the mountains and lake.
And at the touch of a button, panels emerge from their hiding places and float across the edge of the mezzanine, joining forces to form a solid partition, transforming the sunlit, airy bedrooms into cosy boudoirs.
To escape the views, you need to take refuge in the wine cave, dressing rooms or the downstairs powder room. Even the freestanding Victoria and Albert bathtub in the vast, white porcelain-tiled master ensuite has a stunning vista of the Remarkables. And I could see the lake from the glass-walled, walk-in double shower that runs the full length of the bathroom.
We arrived at the Jagged Edge in time to witness a spectacular light show just before sunset when the glass wall panels become giant mirrors, reflecting multiple images of the mountains, lake and cloud formations.
Immersed in the 38-degree warmth of the infinity spa pool (at 5 metres by 6 metres, it’s more a swimming pool than a hot tub) with a glass of champagne in hand, I was mesmerised by the dart-shaped point of the roof above me and the many versions of Mt. Nicholas projected below it.
My husband Chris said I was not, under any circumstances, to take the camera into the spa, especially not with a glass of bubbly in one hand… but how else was I to get the photos from the far side of the pool? It’s fair to say I became obsessed with capturing every aspect of the place on-camera… as if to affirm its very existence.
Much later when my family finally extracted me from the water, I activated the pool cover function from the keypad by the door. The water level lowered itself by 170mm and the cover slid quietly across the pool from beneath the decking. Recessing the pool cover in such a way protected it from wind gusts, said Julian who designed the mechanism. The pool, accessed through a steel-framed glass portal at the front of the house, is fully childproof, of course, with safety glass barriers and a gate. The water temperature can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world.
Heaven on earth for foodies and techies
Another slightly James Bond-esque feature of the Jagged Edge is the 3.7 metre long sickle-shaped bar. Camouflaged as a piece of timber flooring, the structure rises slowly out of the floor, complete with lights and stools – also designed by Julian who has a flair for the unusual. It was a favourite place for our young ones, perching on the bar stools, ordering cocktails and masquerading as celebrities.
The foodies in the family were in heaven in the superbly well-equipped, gleaming black and white galley kitchen. Located at the rear of the house, it has a full view of the mountains, thanks to the height of the roof at the apex of the triangle. The Luxe Houses concierge offered to arrange a chef and waiters to look after us but our family love nothing better than to cook together. There was plenty of space at the four-metre white Corian island for all the would-be master-chefs, and the two full-sized dishwashers and the huge electric oven with five Miele gas hobs got a thorough work-out. The coffee lovers were also deliriously happy with the top-of-the-line built-in Miele coffee machine and stand-alone Nespresso with a wide selection of capsules.
The ‘techies’ were in a nirvana of their own too with a 103-inch wall-mounted television, state-of-the-art Sonos sound system and a myriad of fascinating functions operated from a couple of iPads. Their eyes lit up when they spied a cupboard stacked high with humming black boxes, winking red lights and many dials. A master switch at the front door turns on all the lights when you arrive and turns them all off as you leave, saving time and electricity. To save even more energy, smart technology allows the house to be switched to unoccupied mode when empty.
Chris managed to become an accomplished concert pianist overnight after mastering the art of mime while seated at the Yamaha grand piano which could be programmed to play all manner of impressive pieces. An old friend was astonished to find that he had become a virtuoso since they had last seen each other.
One of few man-made adornments in a house dominated by the majesty of the landscape, is an eye-catching mosaic head from Mexico lit from within. Another is an imposing glass sculpture of a kiwi bird in the stairwell designed by New Zealander Peter Stoneham.
With its acres of pale knotless timber flooring, the overall effect is one of understated elegance and clean, uncluttered lines. It’s a luxurious, restful place devoid of fussy detail and decoration. The owners have wisely allowed nature to take centre stage.
The days slipped by in a haze of self-indulgence starting with a workout at the nearby guest house gym and some laps in the heated pool, followed by brunch on the balcony with jaw-dropping views of the mountains and lake, and walking or biking along the lakeside path below us in the afternoon… If we could prise ourselves away from our idyllic hillside hideaway with its 270-degree panorama.
At $10,000 a night, the three-bedroom, four-bathroom Jagged Edge is among New Zealand’s most expensive and exclusive private holiday accommodation, and is now available for rent through Luxe Houses.
The guest house
If your numbers exceed six people, just a short stroll away down a pretty pebbled path is an equally palatial five-bedroom, six-bathroom guest house with a heated swimming pool, spa pool, sauna, gym, kitchen, an expansive living area with huge wrap-around deckings and the same jaw-dropping view as the mother ship up the hill. For an extra $5,000 a night, you have accommodation for 16 altogether.
Privacy, security and solitude assured!
Once installed at the Jagged Edge and guest house, your privacy, security and solitude are assured. You need not see another soul until you check out apart, from your dedicated VIP concierge who will arrange anything and everything for you. Services (at an additional cost) tap into Luxe Houses’ extensive, highly-respected network of professionals who specialise in ensuring your stay is flawless. On the menu are private charter jets, helicopter transfers, yachts, launches and jet-boats, celebrity private chefs, waiters, butlers, drivers, bespoke spa treatments, experienced nannies, guides, ski instructors and personal trainers.
Should you wish to venture beyond the Jagged Edge, the adventure capital of the world, is on your doorstep… Queenstown is the home of the world-famous Shotover River Jets, Dart River Jets and Funyaks, Revolution Tours’ Paradise cycle tours, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables Ski-fields, the Routeburn and Hollyford Tracks, heli-skiing and snowshoeing, jetboating, hiking, bungy jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, rafting, fly fishing and scenic flights to Milford Sound. Queenstown has a myriad of excellent restaurants and boutiques, and there’s even a casino.
Just 10 minutes from Queenstown, New Zealand’s premier all-seasons tourist resort, the Jagged Edge is private, secluded, secure and only 20 minutes’ drive or five minutes’ heli-transfer from Queenstown International Airport. You can be there in under three hours direct from Sydney… or a mere 24 hours from London.
The Jagged Edge is Luxe Houses’ flag ship New Zealand property but CEO Jessica Kirkpatrick has secured the keys to many other opulent villas, super yachts and private jets around the world. For example, in Sydney, my childhood fantasy came true at Luxe Houses’ palatial harbourside apartment.
And here’s my next destination: AQUA – I think it has potential!
Air New Zealand flies to Queenstown direct from Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne and code-shares with Virgin Australia’s services between Queenstown and Brisbane.
Jucy Rentals assisted with transport.
Justine Tyerman was a guest of Luxe Houses at the Jagged Edge.