We are sitting down to settle for a night watching Netflix (a recent purchase to get us through the following week before a heat pump is put in and we can move away from the fire in the living room- it’s been many year since I have eyed up the oven as a source of room heating but I was), I hear the ping of phone indicating a message. It reads “Two pods are ready to go, we will need to arrange delivery”. I read this out to Richie and we look at each other. The expression is one of ‘oh sh%t’ mixed with a lot of ‘Can we really do this’ ‘it’s too late to back out now’ ‘what if…’ ‘What if it doesn’t……’ and one that I always think to myself at the lip of a snowy slope, strapped into a snowboard or skis …‘all your bullsh%t ends here people’. Whatever we had been convincing ourselves would work, had to work because it was happening. By the way, excuse the French (and the pun), the expletives stop there.
But it didn’t start at that text so let’s back up the Kubota.
I am Kate, Richie is my husband. A year ago we purchased a property on Banks Peninsula at a wee bay called French Farm. We had been dairying on the Canterbury plains and the bodies were getting too old for the 4am starts (approx. 7600 for Richie in the past 21 years).
After a lot of contemplation of what to do next we thought we’d start with the obvious, find a place to live and go from there. I decided where ever that place was it needed to have some wow factor. Why not, life is short. Richie thankfully agreed.
So we found this wee gem with 30ha attached to it and put an offer in. The offer was accepted and we then realised it was the family Bach of a good university friend of Richie’s and she had planted the pin oaks up the driveway when she was 17yrs old, and her father, a keen arborist in his time planted the Rhododendron dell over the 40 years that they had had the property. Having that link was really great to discover and still is a great thing to have going forward. We feel like caretakers of Te Wepu, and have a responsibility to do our best for the people who have had it before us. We hadn’t even been to the top of the 30ha’s at that time, it just felt right.
Slowly we replaced fences and cleared some old stock tracks so we could get water and troughs in, and stock wouldn’t have access to the streams. Every day we discovered something new and exciting. The 30ha’s was an old dairy farm so there are old laneways to almost every area. This was a great discovery. It meant vehicle access to some really really cool views!!
It was while we were having a rest from the walk up, and I was ‘guiding’ Richie (he calls it nagging) with some ideas on the ‘what’s next on the ‘to do’ list when we both agreed this would be a really good place for a seat. What about a hot tub? What about a hut with the hot tub?….and that’s basically where Te Wepu - Intrepid Pod Retreats began.
The ideas grew and changed and then changed and altered, and grew some more but the idea has always been the same. We wanted to create a space for tourists to visit that would show case a unique side of New Zealand. We wanted it to be intrepid, off the beaten track and be an experience that people would fondly remember for years. We wanted minimum footprint left and the business could be a way we could survive with our family, on 30ha’s.
The pod sites originally were going to include one up the very top of our 30ha, (where we hope to put ‘that seat’) but the council advised that it was too close to the boundary, not enough of something, too high of something else, …. Everything was guilty till proven innocent there. That’s all I’ll say about the council except how come they don’t have to itemise their invoices?
We did have a slight dent to our ego when the council planner told us we weren’t a farm because we weren’t 40ha. I whisper that to the woolshed and old two bale dairy shed on my way past sometimes and we all roll our eyes. Common sense is sometimes not that common I tell them.
So we found and met up with Mark and Rachel Brown at Mount Hutt Pods and they came to visit the sites. Excitement was building. “This is what they are designed to be for” they said. And ‘Yes perhaps they might need to be helicoptered in” says Mark after a trip up the hill.
We decided we needed two pods per site, one for the living and one for the loo and changing. Deposits were paid and hot tubs were ordered. Too easy, we thought.
About a week later Richie said ‘I’m keen to get a sign for the front gate’. There began the opening of another can of worms. Marketing. I emailed a friend who (sorry Sara) I first met when I flatted with her and Darren in London. They shared the triangle of space under our stairs until a room was vacated by someone. Fun days. Sara was now a graphic designer (she probably was in London but we never really discussed work, it was more based around where pints were the cheapest) and had started out on her own - ‘Sartoria Creative’ based in Wellington. I referred to Richie as ‘Richie van der Bocock’ around this time as he would have been quite happy with ‘Te Wepu’ stamped into some macrocarpa plank in Times New Roman font. Why do we need to spend money on a logo?
Sara created our logo. The Onawe Peninsula silhouette in the T is what our guests will see from their hot tub and what we see at from our ‘office in the hills’. Her design flare, direction, professionalism and thoroughness through the whole process was amazing and it really got us buzzing about what we were planning. Even Richie loved the updates. She was creating us.
I spent hours looking at making a website myself but decided that was money well spent with a professional as well. Coming from a career of being a fertiliser sales rep I was first to admit this was not my forte. Richie battles to attach files to emails so he was no help either. I had some advice from friends and in the end picked a website I really liked, looked down the bottom corner and rang the office. Too easy. But website designers don’t do the words…lucky I had a friend in that department as well and Keri at The Written Word weaved her magic there, even discovering some local Maori history for us. Te Wepu we like to think means ‘to weep’ but we think it also means ‘The whip’ – Te Kooti’s whip. Not ideal as he wasn’t one of NZ’s good sorts. Jokes were passed around about whether we wanted to be a BnB or a BnD… more eye rolling.
So here we are. Two pods made, 4 to go and everything else. I’ll keep you posted!