Summer List Series 04: Off The Beaten Track

In our fourth Summer List Series we leave the city behind and get off the beaten track, finding pockets of the country that are quiet, untouched and incomprehensibly beautiful. It is the time of year for long walks and exploration, to make space for expansion and renewed direction.

Rufus Knight, of Knight Associates, is a renowned New Zealand Interior Designer. His work is elegant and deeply considered. Every detail of the his interiors seem to be studies in texture, sculpture and design creating environments that are gently immersive and in perfect harmony. A space designed by Knight imbues a sense of calm and completeness. This week we ask Rufus to share some of the places that are important to him, the places that he returns to, time and time again. 

Thank you, Rufus!

Photograph: Rufus Knight


Originally settled by Ngāti Rangi, Ohakune, a small railway encampment, became a permanent stopover with the construction of the Main Trunk Line, connecting Marton and Te Awamutu. The arid volcanic plain of the Waimarino Plateau, Pihanga's native bush, and the Mangawhero Forest Walk; Ohakune and National Park made a significant impression on me growing up. It has been satisfying to see the bumper winter seasons at Tūroa and Whakapapa recently but returning recently to walk the Tongariro Crossing was an unexpected highlight and stern lesson in preparedness. From an overcast morning start at Mangatepopo, past Pukekaikiore, up the Devils Staircase and moving above the cloudline to the saddle, we were greeted with severe Westerlies and biting snow. Roped together we made the summit and, as we descended toward Ngā Rotopounamu, Mother Nature turned her snowstorm into sunshine and the walk past Rangihiroa’s mirror and down to Ketetahi was nothing short of life-affirming.

Mahia Peninsula

Located at the tip of the Hawkes Bay, Mahia Peninsula has deep-rooted connections to my family with much of my father’s family living in and around the Wairoa region. I have been regularly visiting Mahia for coming up twenty years and its raw, remote, and spiritual character never seems to diminish. Perhaps not a typical holiday destination, the Mahia Peninsula has an elemental attraction that’s becoming increasingly difficult to find along New Zealand’s coastlines. From its verdant Scenic Reserves in Kinikini to the crenelated foreshore around Kahutara Point (Table Cape), the peninsula has an uncultivated beauty.


Reading Justin Paton’s brilliant ‘McCahon Country’ over the summer break has filled me with a renewed interest in Auckland’s West Coast and in particular Muriwai. Paton writes of McCahon’s early 1970’s works that were heavily influenced by the coastal settlement, ‘’From a distance it can be hard to tell if they are drawings at all. Its only when you come close... that you start to see what’s there. Scratches, dashes and scribbles... Sometimes the marks look faint and chaotic, like bits of grit in the eye. Sometimes they have a twittering energy that calls to mind the windblown birdlife.’’ Viewing the New Zealand landscape through the eyes of our Nationalist artists has always, for me, called forth a richness of depth, expansion of metaphor, and direct engagement with what makes living in this country unique. Revisiting McCahon’s veiled abstractions and coolly noetic seascapes has me looking forward to visiting the West Coast this winter.

‘McCahon Country’
Photograph: Rufus Knight
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