It’s coming up on a year since we moved from our house near the top of Mt Victoria in Wellington to a smaller but brand new house in a rural area by the sea.
We’d been in that Wellington house for about 20 years when we’d started to talk about maybe moving away. It was just talk though — bandying around notions of perhaps The Hokianga (but what about work — it’s not an area noted for its employment opportunities), or just generally
The talk came to nothing, but then we spent 5 weeks away, mainly in Spain. The good break, the chance to see the world differently, inspired us to actually say
let’s move. The city house was free of mortgage and the previous year we’d built a beach house we could live in while we found somewhere else.
We arrived back in New Zealand from Spain on 01 October 2015 and I started cleaning up and sorting out. Before long we contacted a real estate agent (Tommys, who were great), were signed up, enduring open homes and the place was sold on 01 December 2015, less than a week after being listed.
Then it was a matter of packing up, final cleaning, and storing or disposing of the things we couldn’t take with us.
At first we didn’t know if we’d live permanently in our 68 square metre beach house, or would find another house somewhere. We quickly decided to stay here though, and I love it.
The property’s 3,495 square metres (just under an acre) of low sandy hills — more like dunes really. Grass, bracken and some tangly vine cover most of the ground, with patches of blackberry and gorse for good measure. On 3 sides are similar properties with small homes whose owners visit some weekends and holidays. On the fourth side is cow paddocks, part of a 400 acre farm.
One kilometre away, across the cow paddocks, to the east, behind some trees, is a lake we can’t see. We often see geese and ducks flying around the lake though. In fact, while writing this I saw, and heard, a large flock of about 40 fly away to the south, only to return a while later, with much honking.
800 metres to the south is another lake we can’t actually see (Google Maps is a wonderful thing). There are two tiny lakes at the end of our road, a couple of hundred metres away.
In fact, like the whole coast up and down here, it’s all wetland really, and if there’s plenty of rain various paddocks along the road flood enough for ducks to take up residence.
There are a great many things I love about living here, from the all-day sun and peace and quiet, to the dark skies, nearby ever-changing beach, but especially all the animals and birds.
Today we have 4 pairs of horses in various paddocks along our stretch of road, and half a dozen weaner calves.
In the neighbouring paddock are a herd of maybe year old beef steers. Sometimes a kunekune pig turns up in there with them. The farmer told me it’s not his pig and he doesn’t know where it comes from.
When the latest bunch of steers first arrived as young ‘uns they were a noisy lot. In fact, I hadn’t realised that cows make so many more noises than just
moo, even though one place I lived for 3 years had a milking cow and her calf. These guys groan, hoot and holler, bellow and trumpet.
A bit further away, on the road that leads to State Highway 1 are some alpacas, and even closer to SH1 are deer.
All around are that national pest, rabbits, in abundance. They’re quite cute really, especially the young ones. The other morning one came to our front door and looked in.
Today I spotted a small black rabbit, and can only suppose it’s a descendant of a black rabbit lost from the nearby village a year or two back.
Hawks soar around the paddocks hunting, while yellow hammers, swallows, fantails, tui, magpies, kingfishers and even eastern rosellas all hang out around the house, along with the usuals like blackbirds, starlings, sparrows and whatnot. Ring-neck doves visit sometimes.
Ring-necked pheasants strut around all over the place, startle out of the long grass with a whirr of their wings and squawk every time there’s an earthquake.
There are plenty of various kinds of ducks and geese around, along with royal spoonbills, black swans, pukeko, shags and all sorts of other waterbirds, thanks to the lakes. With the beach just 800 metres to the west we need only stroll down the road for a couple of minutes to find all the shore birds you’d usually expect, including gulls and oystercatchers. Sometimes seals visit the beach.
The lakes at the end of the road are often loud with frogs. The frogs also turn up in our garden quite often. Sometimes I think I’ve seen the back end of a skink slipping out of sight.
There are wonderful dragonflies, and a few bees, and the swan plants have brought the occasional Monarch butterfly. Little golden coloured copper butterflies feast on the grasses and other plants.
Unfortunately we also have mosquitoes and regular flies. Last summer the ‘sticky’ flies were a menace inside the house and we eventually resorted to heavy duty fly spray to help get rid of them. I had to clean down a lot of surfaces like door frames to get rid of the fly dirt. We now have insect screens on all the windows, but not the doors, and bought a fan to help circulate the air.
Then there are the things we don’t want, like the slaters that immediately ate the one strawberry we had on the plant we bought recently and destroyed the zucchini plants bought from a local school fair. I’m also not a fan of spiders. There are wasps around too though I try to find their nests and apply wasp powder.
I’ve spotted a stoat once or twice but have never been quick enough to take a photo.
Round out all of that with the cats and dogs that we and our neighbours own and we have a very rich environment, full of life and a joy to participate in.
Am I glad we moved? Definitely. Do I miss Wellington? Not even one tiny little bit.