Twizel, New Zealand, is a village smack in the middle of New Zealand’s South Island, not terribly far from Mt. Cook. It’s wide-open country there, full of glacial drainages and world-class fly fishing. Sheep farms too. Picture rural southern New Zealand, and you’re basically envisioning Twizel. It’s a lovely stopover on the way to Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park.

Or, a destination in itself especially if you have access to a cabin like this. Called simply the High Country Cabin, it’s 50 square meters of rustic charm surrounded by lakes, rivers, and some of the planet’s darkest skies. In the winter, nearby ski areas beckon, and though the cabin is only at 1,500 feet in elevation, it can receive its share of snowfall. No matter, there is a fireplace.

It’s a 30-minute drive from Twizel to Mt. Cook, along the shores of the impossibly turquoise Lake Pukaki. On clear days, Cook looms in the distance like a painting. Aoraki, the Maori name for the mountain, means “Cloud Piercer” and it’s a typically accurate name for the nearly 13,000-foot peak. A bike ride will take about 2.5 hours; just be on the lookout for drivers gawking at the mountain peaks in the distance. Best par: You can rent this cabin, here.

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