New Beginnings from Afar

After Patsie was offered a job in Hamilton, Tim & Patsie took a leap of faith and made the decision to move their lives from Australia to Rangitahi, Raglan.

Starting with the bold decision to purchase the section after an iPhone video from the real estate agent, initiating the building process with the architects and builders via zoom calls, and adding in a few covid lockdowns in between, it was at times a difficult process but by using local industry knowledge and connections they recently shifted into their new home and couldn’t be happier.

We went and met with Tim and Patsie in their new home and got the full rundown of the building process and how they are liking their latest journey here in Rangitahi.

Where were you before you made the move to Raglan

We are from Australia and for the past twenty years we lived on the coast in a town we think is similar to Raglan, Barwon Heads, situated on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria. Like Raglan it is a small coastal community that is also a holiday destination where the surfing is good.

Has there been much of an adjustment from the move to NZ?

Moving to a new country is always going to be an adjustment.
We have travelled to New Zealand many times and in 2019 we were in Dunedin for 6 months so Patsie could do a sabbatical there. So while we are here now long term and it is different putting down your roots in a new place, we do feel like we already knew a bit about what living in NZ would be like. As mentioned earlier Barwon Heads is a bit like Raglan, both have a small close knit community feel with great surf beaches, good cafes and reasonably close to a major city for work opportunities– that is why we looked at Raglan as a place to move to that was close to Hamilton for Patsie’s work but importantly was on the coast.

What drew you to purchase a section at Rangitahi?

We were searching online for a house to buy in Raglan from Australia but didn’t really find anything suitable, then we stumbled across this block in Rangitahi. We contacted Mark Frost from Bayleys Real Estate and he ‘showed us around’ on his mobile phone.It was a bit of a gamble buying the section without seeing it in ‘real life’ and in a town we had never been to, but it has paid off.We were searching online for a house to buy in Raglan from Australia but didn’t really find anything suitable, then we stumbled across this block in Rangitahi.

What do you love about Rangitahi and Raglan?

We have always wanted to live somewhere with a view of the water and there is water everywhere in Raglan including right outside our house. Having a view of Karioi with its dramatic profile and ever-changing mood also adds to our views.We both love the beach, surfing, bush walking(tramping), Tim also plays golf so having the Raglan golf course just across the water is great.

We also love hanging out in cafes, good food and enjoying coffee, we have to admit the coffee here is much better than at home!We brought our kayaks over with us too, and Patsie has a SUP so the paddling around here is also great – although we haven’t done a lot of that yet. It will be great when we can access the water a bit more easily – we understand there are some jetties going in. We also love that we can ride our bikes to go shopping and in the warmer weather go for a swim.

We also enjoy live music, art, and films so it is great that Raglan has all of that happening here too.

Tim, what is your work here? Is it the same as what you were doing in Australia.

I worked as a librarian in Australia for almost 30 years most recently at the Parliament of Victoria where I was for over 15 years, but I am also a qualified gardener which I worked at from time to time to have a break from office work. When we moved to Hamilton I worked with Waikato Garden Care keen to be outside and to brush up on my gardening skills. It is a busy and thriving business with a great crew and I certainly learned a lot there. I’ve just started my own business here, ‘Tim’s Garden Care’ and am hoping to get some work around Raglan and Rangitahi.

Gardening is a high priority for us. While my gardening business builds up I have been busy designing our garden. We hope to create a garden that will complement our surroundings, be a haven for native birds, and also provide us with food. We are busily trying to learn all about the native species here, one aspect we like are the plants that are native to both Australia and New Zealand, it makes being here feel a little more familiar. Fortunately, things grow here so much quicker than at home especially citrus, and the vegies we have in are doing really well.

Patsie, you are working at the University of Waikato – are you commuting into Hamilton? How has this process been for you?

Yes, I work full time at the University of Waikato running a postgraduate programme in Disability and Inclusion Studies. The great thing about working as an academic is the flexibility, and depending on what you are teaching and the research you are doing, you can manage your own work, which includes for me working from home a bit. I spend a couple of days a week in my home office out here. I really like the drive in though as it gives me time to plan on the way in and unwind on the way back home and it’s a beautiful scenic drive.

How did you find the build process? Were there any challenges that you had to overcome?

It was all very new for us – we have never built a house before – we haven’t even really done much renovating. To add interest we started the process when we were in Australia. We saw Rubix Architecture featured in the Rangitahi journal so contacted Alice Gironella after we had looked at a couple of other options. Given the shape of our section and that an easement goes through it we needed to have a bespoke design. Everything was done on-line for the design stage with Alice – there were lots of Zoom meetings and sharing pictures of designs we had seen in different places.

By the time we got to New Zealand, we had decided on the house design and Alice put us in touch with Jack Hoult of Hoult Construction. Our first meeting with Jack was on Zoom when we were in MIQ in Christchurch – that was a bit strange but we appreciated that we could get started with planning then. There were definitely challenges – particularly when Waikato went into lockdown and things came to a bit of a standstill – we were without a roof for quite some time and that was during a bit of a wet spell last year – we were getting pretty nervous then, but thankfully things moved on after that. Unfortunately, of course everything was more expensive than when we first set out too – but building costs did soar during the time we were building.

We did have quite a delay as we were supposed to be in the house in September 2021 and we finally got in February 2022. Other challenges for us were that we didn’t know anyone here so we had to trust that the advice we were being given was right – at home, you could ask around and find out more by word of mouth – we were working in the dark a bit in the whole process. But the result is great – we have a really good house that pretty much is what we thought it would be.

Now you have had time to settle into your new home, what is your favourite part of the house?

We know how lucky we are to have been able to build a new house in such an amazing place. The view is a favourite feature for sure – we see the harbour and Mt Karioi out of almost all of the windows which is lovely. We love it when the water is up high and how it changes colours – we also love the trees and all the green we look out to, and of course, the birds that visit our Manuka trees. It’s great being able to walk straight down onto the walking track – we are looking forward to all the tracks linking up but we already have some favourite loops we walk around Rangitahi.

We feel like our house sits really nicely in the natural environment we are part of out here, and we plan to do more native planting so we can add to this.

Can you give us an overview of your home and special features that you had to have and anything that has been a surprise win?

We tell people at home in Australia we have built a very Kiwi house – with the black steel, cedar cladding and lots of glass to take in the great views. They don’t really build houses like this at home. Patsie has had a growing interest in Kiwi architecture being a big fan of NZ Grand Designs so was inspired by what was on that show and what we had seen on our many trips to NZ.Sustainability is really important to us and we wanted to have as small a footprint as possible both in the way the house was designed and built.

One of the main things we wanted was to have a passive solar house – we were not able to have all the features we had wanted but we have got solar panels and the orientation of the house means it works pretty well. We also love that in NZ double glazing is standard – that is great and is something we can feel working. We did most of the interior design which was fun – mainly using ideas we had picked up over time travelling to places like Japan and Sweden. Lighting was also important so we invested a bit of time finding lovely light fittings – we used Social Light in Cambridge – they were fantastic. The kitchen is another feature that we put a bit of effort into. We wanted the kitchen to stand out a bit so we were pretty picky about the bench tops which are bamboo – a more sustainable material than stone. We also chose lovely Japanese Kit-kat wall tiles for the splash-back that go to the ceiling and a bamboo and steel open shelving unit that sits over the island bench.

Treetown from Cambridge worked with us on all the joinery and did an amazing job. The island bench also has a lovely tessellated relief on the front made from bamboo. We got that idea from Hayes Common restaurant in Hamilton. We are really pleased with the way the kitchen and living space look and work.

We’ve got 2 Shoji doors in the house too – these are Japanese sliding doors with framed (faux) rice paper panels. Yoda from Jedi Painters and Decorators did a great job staining the woodwork – it was a very delicate piece of work. We also love the window furnishings – there are lots of sliding glass doors throughout the house so we had to get that right. Darren from Interiors by Forma in Hamilton helped us with the design and got Murray from Raglan blinds to provide and fit the blinds and curtains.

Again, great local businesses. Overall, we couldn’t be happier – the sunsets are amazing and we are really enjoying seeing all the new houses going up – there are some great designs. It’s nice to be getting to know some people a bit – we love ‘The Hut’ it’s great having that so close and the coffee and baked goods are fantastic – Tim is a big fan of the caramel slice. We can see that Rangitahi will be a great area to ‘grow into’. There are some really good things in the planning that will add to the feel of community out here.

Photos by Simon @ Dickeybird
Contact Tim’s Garden Care on 027 289 6675

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