New era for Avonlea homestead
Waihopai Valley historian Bernie Mason has been an explorer and history seeker most of his life.
As a boy living in the Avon Valley he combed old dumping sites on his parents Avondale property to fossick for Victorian era relics.
He scrambled through the rubbish dumps which dotted the family farm, 38 kilometres south of Blenheim, uncovering treasures such as stone and glass bottles, and Maori artifacts.
‘‘Although we never knew what we were going to find, there was always something to take our fancy,’’ Bernie says.
‘‘On one occasion we found a
‘‘Although we never knew what we were going to find, there was always something to take our fancy.’’
complete silver dinner set which had been tossed in the dump, and a couple of Maori adzes.’’
Bernie’s early adventures sparked an enduring quest to learn about the history of the region.
His family have lived in the Avon Valley for 70 years, now Bernie is about to pass on the history of the family farm to a new caretaker.
Bernie has put the Avonlea homestead, which has been used as a hunting lodge and 2.7 hectare lifestyle block, up for sale.
He built the 350 square metre homestead, after the original Avondale Station building was pulled down by his father, in the same Victorian style and quality as the original homestead.
Bernie milled old man pine, douglas fir, macrocarpa, eucalyptus, kanuka, and black poplar from the farm, and added schist rock walls. The only aspect of the original house which could not be recreated were the maids, butlers, and chauffeurs, Bernie says.
The private and tranquil location is set in a country gar- den, with a mature orchard.
The house has been used as a base for guided hunting trips and farmstays.
Even though Bernie and his wife Jo are selling they will not be going far as they are only moving 1km away.
His next project is to restore the remains of the original homestead, and finish a history of the Waihopai Valley, he says.
Avon Valley resident Bernie Mason has a fascination for the region’s history