After eight years of email notifications from real estate websites telling me about land that was out of reach, not my thing, way too expensive, yesterday an email arrived with six sweet words: “We have declared your purchase unconditional”. Purchasers’ offer on my house is accepted and they’ve paid their deposit. My offer on land is accepted and I’ve paid that deposit. In nine days, purchase of this house will be settled. The following week – April Fools’ Day – “our place” will refer to 200 acres of beautiful bush (and blackberries) in the Kauaeranga Valley instead of this wee home in suburban Auckland. Each square city-metre of concrete and grass swapped for more than a thousand of trees (and perhaps blackberries) down country. With those six words, the search is over.
The real work is far from over. While the bush is mature and can look after itself, the paddock areas are an enormous tangle of weeds. Blackberry, gorse, tobacco weed and goodness knows what else have had free rein for a decade or so, and clearing that is no small task. There is a lot of rubbish too – cars have been driven to exhaustion and abandoned where they fell; buildings have broken roof-trees and sodden floors (some wildly optimistic person called them “rustic” in the advertisement); a small, holey dingy languishes in what might have been intended as a pond, but is – in midsummer – a shady, swampy mozzie breeding ground. Even the driveway itself is too rutted for me to attempt driving my small city-mobile more than a metre or so off the road.
But this, dear reader, is a start. Finally. A start.
Click here for the Google Earth view tour (Push “Present” once it’s loaded)
The house itself has been at best very neglected and at worst actively damaged by its last occupants. The wall linings are broken and rotten, the floor is saggy and bowed, the foundations are crooked. Demolition seems to be the only reasonable step here unfortunately.
On the plus side, there are a number of fruit trees on the right hand side of the image: apple, plum, peach, and a few others that I didn’t go close enough to identify. They could do with some pruning and TLC, but seemed happy enough.
The main paddock is a few minutes’ wander up the hill from the house site, and is currently very overgrown. At the time we saw it, there were wrecks of cars and lots of weeds. Apparently there are fences creating two separate paddocks here, but we didn’t see them …
Heading up the ridge from the main paddock you come to the “bus paddock”, so named because there’s the remains of a 1940s school bus sitting there. It’s currently a very gorsey area, but from its position on Google Earth looks like it might be a good spot for a cabin or house with views to both east and west.
Track up the ridge
The track itself along the ridge is in pretty good summer condition, wide enough (with a little help here and there) for a small UTV. It has a clay base, so might become slippery in the wet. The contour certainly isn’t flat, but isn’t steep enough to need steps anywhere either.
North east corner
The north east corner of the property is the end of the ridge track and the beginning of forestry land. To the north this is a pine plantation, to the east this is mature bush now designated “conservation” in the TCDC regional zoning maps. Hopefully that means it won’t be logged or mined in the future! There’s a large pool for filling monsoon buckets for fire-fighting on the forestry land, and an area of gorse on the property that gets clear views out towards the east. This could be a possible location for a transportable cabin, as we might be able to get access via the forestry roads to deliver it. There’s also a beautiful big kauri with lots of cones just on the edge of the forestry land.
Opposite the ridge boundary, the other long boundary is the stream at the bottom. This is – in midsummer – about knee-deep with a stony bottom. Apparently this used to be used for water supply for the town, and is very clear.
Riverside house site
About 10 minutes’ walk from the road there’s a dilapidated old garage and outbuildings on a small clearing next to the river. The roof-tree of the garage is broken, and, like the house, I’m not sure whether it will be able to be reasonably repaired or should be removed.
So that’s where we are today. At the beginning.