Living the Dream
We moved from Tauranga to Pokaka in 2019, to run our first business.
This is our story about moving our young family from the city to the rural life and the beginning of a new adventure
Just over 2 years ago we started to think what our next plan could be. Ben was working long hours including some weekends and the kids were going to daycare 50 hours a week, while my 5km commute use to take 40-50mins one way in Tauranga.
We had already thought about the possibility of building new in the Horopito area, but on a second visit we stumbled across Taylor Memorial Lodge that had just come up on the market. Most people would have looked at it and thought it was in the too hard basket, but for us all we saw was the potential that it could become, and our ideas were racing. The area was secluded, yet close to amenities and the nature and wildlife that surrounded it was beautiful. We witness flocks of Kereru feasting in the trees when we visited the property.
We placed our house on the market in Tauranga and put in an offer on the lodge. Telling all our friends and family of this grand plan we had that some thought was just plain crazy. Our house that we had spent 4 years landscaping and adding our touch to in the suburbs of Pyes Pa, did not sell at auction and we withdrew our offer on the lodge.
Eventually we did get the sale we wanted, just before we went away on a family holiday with our delayed honeymoon tagged on. We sold it, not knowing exactly what our next move was. I had given up on the lodge then. But not Ben, he had still been in contact with the real estate agent and was even taking phone calls from him on our honeymoon.
The day we moved out of our first home, we put in another offer to the lodge – and this time told no one.
For 3 months we had all our stuff in storage and lived in the caravan right next to the beach in Mt Maunganui, all while trying to wrangle the bank to be in our favour with our lodge dream plus also coming up with plans B, C and D as backup options. All I knew is that I wanted to be settled somewhere with plenty of lead up time before our eldest was meant to start school.
The day we found out we had finally been approved by the bank and the deposit had been paid I was heading away for a girl’s weekend with my besties. “I’ve quit my job!” I said as I walked through the doors to the batch in Whangamata – “And brought a lodge!”. They were just as excited about it as we were.
That’s one big comment we have had from a lot of our friends as they have seen our journey unfold on facebook with our progress we are making on the lodge and they are so proud of us for just giving it a go and ‘living the dream’.
It was scary quitting the usual 9-5 job with regular good pay but living here in Pokaka is more than about that. The kids have so much space now to be free range – climbing trees, riding bikes, checking the possum and ferret traps with Dad. The smaller community means that everyone says hi to you when they see you in the supermarket. We see so much more of our friends from Auckland and Tauranga too as they love to travel to visit us.
When we took over the lodge it came with a winter full of group bookings, families and schools. Some had been coming year after year and they brought stories with them of how the place use to be, and their connection to the Taylors. We slowly started to make improvements between bookings. You can tell which rooms we started on by the improvement in our painting skills. Our goal is to give the place a new lease of life so that it can continue to accommodate those groups for years to come, and for new families to make it their new regular holiday. It might not ever be a restored Ponsonby Villa, just clean tidy and warm. It’s always been a popular winter location, and like many other operators we are showing that the Ruapehu region is a all round destination with biking, hiking and the river also available for outdoor adventures. We have been excited to hear that the Provincial Growth Fund has been able to provide the funding needed to complete the ‘Missing Link’ mountain bike trail, which is set to go right past the lodge – and thus bring more opportunities for growth for us. We are also putting together packages for those on a tight budget wanting to have a wedding at the lodge.
We are forever coming up with new ideas and plans for the lodge and which direction we will head in next. For us we go with the flow depending on what opportunities life throws at us. Ben’s just completed a winter season up on Mt Ruapehu for the experience, and I’ve also had the opportunity to have a part time office job in Ohakune doing payroll for another great local company (although I am currently on maternity leave)
Taking the leap from city life to a rural outlook, and becoming business owners can be a scary jump, especially if you have kids to add to the juggle also. If you asked me 5 years ago if this is where I thought I would be in my life, I might have laughed at you. But taking this journey together as a young family has seen us grow and appreciate each other’s differences and what we can each bring to the operation of our busy but rewarding lifestyle. It’s also rewarding to know what we can do and how much we have already learnt in such a short time. We are also grateful for the support given to us from our family and friends too – either through industry knowledge, or helping out painting, cleaning or doing alterations the lodge for us. I’m so glad of Ben’s persistent enthusiasm for the lodge that saw us make the initial move, and for his constant drive he brings to the table.
Written for Unika Online Magazine - December 2020