On the river, off the grid: Takou River's Magic Cottage is spellbinding

On the river, off the grid: Takou River's Magic Cottage is spellbinding
Photo credit: Supplied

Nestled between pohutukawa trees on the banks of the Takou River near Keri Keri, the Magic Cottage could present a torturous conundrum for some millennials: A no-filter-needed, Instagram-worthy paradise with no means to upload a single thing to social media. 

For me, entering the no-coverage-zone does prompt a fleeting moment of panic  - one that I take as a sign I badly needed to put my phone down for a weekend. 

For my boyfriend, who scarcely sends an email and wouldn't use a hashtag if his life depended on it, there is no such uncertainty. 

With his phone abandoned in the car, I've barely set up the cheese platter before he's off with Ian the host, collecting a kindly donated jar of their personally pressed olive oil from their nearby house and meeting the family dog, who has the run - and the rabbits - of the 150 acre farmland that envelopes the retreat. 

This is fine with me. I perch myself on the deck of our private cottage and watch the sun go down, listening to the birds sing with a wine and a book - although I do pointlessly check my blank phone several times. 

On the river, off the grid: Takou River's Magic Cottage is spellbinding
Photo credit: Supplied

The cottage itself is simple, but beautifully appointed with cosy blankets, soft linens and a wonderfully picturesque reading nook with big French windows looking out to the river. 

The bed - lovely as it is - is also for some reason on wheels, which sees me inelegantly ride it across the room after jumping on without realising. Strange, quite comical, but no big deal. Nothing a well-placed rug can't fix. 

As fish jump out of the still water illuminated with the twinkles of the last rays of sun, it becomes clear to me that no level of social media addiction can rival the experience of simply existing in such a stunning spot - just as breathtaking at night as it is during the day. 

On the river, off the grid: Takou River's Magic Cottage is spellbinding
Photo credit: Supplied

On his travels with Ian the boyfriend was shown the spot for our 'Riverside Romance' hot tub experience, and on his return insists that we abandon the double cream brie and get there immediately, lest we waste another second of soaking.

A quick drive through the cow paddocks - a four wheel drive isn't necessary, but it's helpful - and we arrive at the edge of the bush. Torches in hand, we set off through the trees to a clearing where a cold bottle of bubbles, robes and candles are waiting in the moonlight. 

The freshwater freestanding hot tub overlooks the roaring river below, and with the milky way lit up above and glow worms sparkling in the distance, it's difficult to do anything other than utter the word "paradise" between sips of our drinks. 

On the river, off the grid: Takou River's Magic Cottage is spellbinding
Photo credit: Newshub

The next day begins with a self-cooked breakfast on the deck in the sunshine before we grab a couple of kayaks and paddle down the river to the deserted white sandy beach at Takou Bay. 

Marvelling at the fact we're able to stroll barefoot in the middle of winter, I tell the boyfriend: "It'd be amazing to come here in the summer and go swimming," only to turn and see him reappear from under the waves, spurred on by the glorious climate of the seemingly winterless north. 

On the river, off the grid: Takou River's Magic Cottage is spellbinding
Photo credit: Supplied

A couple of blisters and a wet pair of trousers later (hot tip: proper kayakers don't wear their cords from Glassons) I was feeling suitably smug about being outdoorsy, and very hungry. Cue a quick jaunt to the legendary Mangonui Fish Shop, well worth the 40 minute drive. 

While we couldn't fork out another $200 for round two of the Riverside Romance experience, we could soak our weary muscles in the alfresco clawfoot bath tub on the deck - complete with eco-friendly bubbles. Heavenly. 

On the river, off the grid: Takou River's Magic Cottage is spellbinding
Photo credit: Newshub

The only thing that risks briefly breaking the spell of the Magic Cottage is the toilet partition 'wall' - namely the fact that it doesn't reach all the way to the roof. Still, another reason to pop outside and soak up the surroundings can't be too much of a bad thing. 

Sunday morning comes around too soon and our farewell party is a curious fantail who swoops down from the trees to see us off. We drive the winding dirt track out of the bush and my phone starts to buzz with missed emails and calls

As reality approaches, I'm already yearning for a couple more days by the river. My only small comfort is a folder full of gorgeous photos that are bound to go off on Instagram. 

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