Well, here we are, finally open for business and taking bookings for Kokohuia Lodge, our beautiful, luxury, sustainably designed and built eco B&B. Welcome to our blog, where we will endeavour to keep you updated on the trials and triumphs of sustainable living and hospitality on the stunning Hokianga Harbour.
I suppose it all started with a romantic weekend away in October 2004 when we spent our first weekend up here, not long after we got together. There is something about the Hokianga Harbour that gets under your skin and I think we were hooked from then on. On Queen’s Birthday Weekend 2005 we made our second trip up and started looking at property to buy. Of course at that point we had a bach in mind – never for a minute imagining we would move up here and have a complete lifestyle change. However, in December 2005 we became the proud owners of 101 Kokohuia Road.
One of the most significant things about the property was that it was completely off-grid. Making the purchase set us off on a road to discovery which has led us to the place we are now. As we struggled with the rudimentary 12 volt solar electricity, toiled at planting trees into solid clay, or chased our neighbours stray cows away from our fledgling orchard (who was herding who?), there were certainly a few “What have we done?” moments. However, along the way our interest and knowledge in things green, sustainable and ethical grew and the personal rewards have been immense. In the early days, Steve waged a personal war on gorse and pampas – using nothing but a handsaw, weed whacker and pure determination.
We came to realise that we were spending more and more time up here and leaving later and later on a Sunday evening. We began to tire of our city lives and jobs and decided that a new challenge was called for. I vividly remember sitting on the grass in the young citrus orchard we had just planted, having the first “What if?” conversation. Gradually that became a “Why not?” and the idea to move up here took hold.
The development of this endeavour has moved through many phases. Phase one was really our wonderful wedding up here on January 4th 2007. This was a fabulous gathering of friends and family and an introduction for them to our little piece of paradise. We were married on the beachfront at the Copthorne Hotel, by a local Kaumatua. For us this marked an important commitment to the Harbour as well as to ourselves. In February 2009 we began the renovations to the existing house which would ultimately transform it into the small but perfectly formed home it is today. In so doing, we increased the floor area to a whopping 92m2. Most importantly though, we also installed the eco septic system (complete with slaters and earth worms), and powerful 240Vsolar electricity system which are now servicing Kokohuia Lodge as well as our home. On 28th of August 2009, Steve’s birthday started at 6.30am with the arrival of the flooring guy to lay the bathroom floor and ended with a gourmet dinner with family – eat your heart out ‘24hr Makeover’…..
Finally, on February 22nd 2011, reminiscent of the opening sequence of the Beverly Hillbillies, we packed up the contents of our house into a ute and a double horse float and headed North to begin our new life in the country. Two weeks later we returned to collect our horses Hammer and his mini me Tongs, and the picture was complete.