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New Zealand Trip Days 22 – 27: Part 1


We spent a week at Brenda’s sister Di and brother-in-law Donald’s place on Waiheke Island. After three weeks of constantly being on the go we were now going to “chill-out” for a week before returning to The States. Rather than chronicling each day by day, it’s probably be better to hit the highlights of what we did as our holiday style had now converted to an agenda-less meandering where what we did one day versus the other had no real importance. But first, to truly understand the experience, you have to understand the environs. What follows is a description of that unique space that we would inhabit for a week.

(Awaawaroa Bay Eco-Village is the shaded area)

Di & Don live in the Awaawaroa Bay Eco-Village. Awaawaroa is Maori for “no cats and dogs allowed”. Here is a view up the north end of the valley of the eco-village:

The eco-village is dedicated to sustainable living and encompasses about 420 acres. It’s owned by 15 families, each with an equal share in the village. Each family is allocated about 2.5 acres that they can use to their hearts content as long as the use falls within sustainability guidelines of the village. The rest is managed by the community based on the consensus derived management plans. They don’t allowed cats and dogs as they are trying to restore the land to it’s natural environment and New Zealand has no native mamals – just birds. Lots of birds. Lots of varieties too. Cats, dogs and these birds don’t mix well.

 I think that sums it up, but for more precise details just go to the link provided. Otherwise, let’s all take a tour. Shall we?

Most of the “town” area of Waiheke Island is in the west end. It’s about a twenty minute drive on winding two lane roads which eventually turns into a winding dirt road before you get to Di & Don’s place. Don is an artist specializing in work with wood and metal. You know you’re getting close when you happen upon this piece at the foot of their driveway:

(Bear in mind that they built most of this place with their own two hands.)

The first thing you see as you pull into the driveway is Don’s workshop:


And here’s a closer look at what Don was working on for one of his clients when we got there:

Walk back around the workshop to the path to the house and you see this:

Get closer to the house and you can see its organic, artistic design with rounded walls and tile pressed into the walls:

We’re still working our way to the front door:

Finally we enter the great room:

Walk into the room a bit and turn around to see the kitchen area:

We’ll take a quick break from the tour to give you some more information.

Because of the remote location and costs involved in hooking up to power sources, the eco-village is “off the grid”. Di & Don have to generate all of their own power. They’ve got solar panels and battery packs for most of their electrical needs, supplemented by a small windmill up at the top of the hill. The water is heated using solar energy, supplemented by the wood burning stove shown above. They also use propane for the cook stove. Rainwater is captured and stored in a large concrete tank. All eco-village residents are required to use composting toilets.

This is a clothes drying rack for those winter days when you’ve got the wood stove burning and giving off good heat:

And here’s a better look of the dining area. That wall of doors opens completely wide for nice summer days ventilation:

Now let’s go down the hall to the back rooms. There’s a shower/bath/laundry room on the right that I don’t happen to have a photo of, but we can look into the other two rooms:

Here’s looking into the bedroom where we stayed. Check out the texture of the walls, the door frames, the doors, the tiled floors, etc.:

Here’s the bedroom, (don’t pay any attention to my unmade bed, I’m on vacation):

And here (sorry, excuse us Jean, I’m just showing these people around) is the office:

Ah, yes, did somebody in the back say they need to use the loo? Let’s head out to the toilet then. We walk back out through the great room and head up the path:

Here’s the composting toilet. We won’t go into the details on how it works, but it seems to work well:

And here’s your view out the front window as you use the “seat of ease”:

When you’re done you can walk back down to the house:

A quick step around to the right shows the side of the house and some of it’s modern paraphenalia:

And here’s a look into the great room from the direction upon return from the loo:

But that’s not all! There’s a seperate bedroom built for each of their two boys – now all grown up and having flown the coop. In the summer Di & Don move out to this rom (sorry Di, hope we’re not interupting anything):

Also, there’s another guest room if you walk up the hill a bit from the driveway through this wee shrub covered path:

Ah, here we are, the room where Jean slept during our stay:

Let’s walk all the way back to the front of the house. Here’s a look of the garden and front porch:

Phew, I’m tired. Let’s sit down and have a cuppa:

You might think you’ve seen the whole place, but you’d be mistaken. You can stay here a whole week and not see it all (I’m proof of that).

In Part 2 we’ll see what we did when we could manage the enthusiasm to leave this cozy place.

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