The Tree House at Night

The Tree House at Night

In December on a whistle stop tour of our beautiful Far North I had the pleasure of briefly revisiting The Tree House lodge on the calm mangrove shores of the north Hokianga Harbour not far from Kohukohu. I say revisit because our family has stayed there a number of times over the years, first when our children were very young and we were living in Kerikeri and more recently when they were in their teens and we were attending a ceili in Kohukohu.

In case you don’t know, The Tree House is a backpacker lodge that at times has been selected as the top backpacker accommodation in New Zealand and still consistently pulls down backpacker service ratings in the mid-90% range. It is a magnificent place for travellers to visit, to rest and to receive inspiration for what can be done on the land when there is the necessary vision and effort in place.

Inside the Tree House

Inside the Tree House

Phil and Pauline Evans migrated from Sydney to their present 6 hectare property in 1981. The flat areas bordering the harbour contained only one tree. They set to work planting 10,000 trees and today, over thirty years later, they live and work in forest of their own making. There is a macadamia nut orchard, many productive fruit trees including the first black sapote I have seen fruiting in the Far North and there is a guided nature trail through healthy regenerating native bush. The wooden house on stilts they initially built received an addition that was the original backpacker accommodation. It was built using recycled windows and other materials on a limited budget. And now there are a number of other units to stay in, one overlooking a pond, others with glimpses of the harbour and still another facing a small paddock also available for camping. Bird life is prolific including a number of ground foul that Phil and Pauline and family look after.

Another Tree House Cabin

Another Tree House Cabin

There are now three generations of Evans’ living at The Tree House including 18 month young Coed (Celtic for ‘forest’- appropriately named, don’t you think?) and the entire family are to be commended for creating a successful lifestyle and business on a limited budget. Their creation continues to enhance the vacation experience of many overseas visitors and brings tourist dollars to our area. We need more such examples.

Coincidentally, the day after the aforementioned visit to The Tree House our Wednesday tramping group were guided around a 170 acre rugged coastal property at Te Ngaere Bay. Te Ngaire 13 034Our guide was John McBain, a fit and knowledgeable octogenarian Forest and Bird member who was hired by the owners of this ex-farm to plant a ‘few’ trees. 11,000 native trees (including 600 pohutukawa) and twenty years later we walked for hours through the forest of one man’s making. He did receive help at times from some local young men. Here is yet one more example of what can be done with vision and dedicated effort. Wow!

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com