Every summer, we have the same conversation in which we imagine an escape of our own. Sometimes we even go and look at bits of land wherever we’ve washed up. We imagine a delightful open structure, a glorified camp. We can’t afford beach front, but it wouldn’t be far. Could we? One day? Maybe? In the meantime, we’re under canvas. To be precise: this year we’ll be at the Hahei campground, just along the dunes from the beautiful beach house by Paul Clarke that graces our cover this issue. (One day we’ll go somewhere more remote, but with two very small kids in tow, the convenience of the pop-up container selling wood-fired pizza is very welcome.) The contrast between our cover home and my summer escape are pretty stark. We sleep in a handme-down 1980s canvas tent, cheerful in shades of green and yellow, and we cook on a small two-burner camping stove or an ancient gas barbecue. We eat outdoors; the kids sleep in the back room and we sleep in the middle, and the canopy becomes our ‘kitchen’. We go to bed not long after it gets dark, waking at dawn with the chirps of birds and babies. And yet, the spirit of the thing is the same. It’s all about being in the dunes, a few steps from a beautiful white-sand beach where the water is turquoise and clear. The late-afternoon sun pours into camp each afternoon just as we’re contemplating a gin, and we go to sleep to the sound of the waves lapping on the beach. It’s a sentiment shared by the eight fantastic retreats we’ve featured this issue around New Zealand, in the bush and on the beach. They’re all different sizes and vastly different budgets, but they share one thing – the dream of escape and contemplation. We hope you enjoy your break ahead – and we hope you have plenty of time with friends and family... And maybe even take the chance to have a look at that piece of land. Go on.
We’re very excited to see Home of the Year entries coming in. Now in its eighth year, the awards are brought to you in association with Altherm Window Systems. The homes will be shortlisted in February to be judged by Mel Bright from Melbourne’s MAKE Architecture, Nicholas Stevens of Stevens Lawson, and me. You can read more about Bright on p.150. Also, keep an eye out for her public lectures in Wellington and Auckland on February 13 and 15 respectively. Entries for the awards close on December 11.
Top right John Meluish surrounds a Kāpiti Coast retreat with bush and dunes. (p.82). Top left Emma Morris designs a family beach house at Langs for her parents (p.56). Above right Vaughn McQuarrie manages views and sun on a south-facing site. (p.62). Above left Paul Clarke sits a timber-lined beach house in the dunes of Hahei (p.70).