A Ger­man cou­ple in search of ad­ven­ture have found the place they want to live for the rest of their lives


Ev­ery af­ter­noon, for more than three years, Detlef and Marek Baum would tell their beloved dog Benno to jump into the car, and they’d drive 30km from their rented house in Nel­son to Ca­ble Bay. Even though the fi­nal 6km is wind­ing and nar­row and of­ten re­duced in places to one lane, some days they would make the trip in the morn­ing and again in the af­ter­noon. They’d wan­der around the lofty piece of for­mer farm­land they’d bought and, while Benno snuf­fled his way about the wilder­ness, dream out loud of the home they’d even­tu­ally build there.

Though Detlef and Marek (and Benno) had im­mi­grated to Nel­son from Ger­many in 2007, they didn’t dis­cover Ca­ble Bay un­til a cou­ple of years later when friends shared the lo­ca­tion of their se­cret swimming spot.

“I re­mem­ber sit­ting in the sun on the rocks and I knew… this is the place where I would be happy to be when I die,” Detlef says. “We’re from Bad Salzu­flen in Ger­many. It’s very in­dus­trial and not very pretty. Marek al­ways said we wouldn’t stay in Ger­many and, for a long time, I didn’t want to ad­mit he was right, but I could feel he was ready to go on a big ad­ven­ture.”

Then Detlef spot­ted a tiny ad­ver­tise­ment in the In­ter­na­tional Den­tal Jour­nal. A den­tal lab­o­ra­tory in Auck­land was seek­ing a master den­tal tech­ni­cian – ex­actly the work Detlef was do­ing in Bad Salzu­flen. He flew to New Zealand for a three-day trial, then re­turned to Ger­many, filled with ex­cite­ment about what he’d seen of New Zealand and how warmly he’d been wel­comed. How­ever, when the process of get­ting visas dragged on,Detlef’sen­thu­si­asmwaned.Marek,whowas­sure­it­wasthe right move, sought ad­vice from an im­mi­gra­tion ad­vi­sor and two years from Detlef’s ini­tial visit they flew into Auck­land. >

“The lab­o­ra­tory had a sec­ond job on of­fer – in Nel­son. We searched for Nel­son on the in­ter­net and couldn’t be­lieve it – so beau­ti­ful! It was an easy de­ci­sion,” says Detlef.

Even­tu­ally, he es­tab­lished his own prac­tice in Nel­son city, and Marek be­came its ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Then two years af­ter that de­light­ful af­ter­noon’s swim, a real es­tate agent friend called: just over a hectare of land had been listed for sale in Ca­ble Bay. By the end of that week, they owned it. They be­gan se­ri­ously sav­ing to­wards their build­ing fund and be­gan their daily vis­its to the site with Benno. Sev­eral years later, those trips had added 150,000km to their odome­ter, and Marek and Detlef had added an­other dog to their fam­ily – a Great Dane pup they named Prada.

As their two-bed­room, en­ter­tainer’s dream of a home was fast tak­ing shape up on the hill, Detlef and Marek cel­e­brated their 20 years to­gether by mar­ry­ing on the beach in Ca­ble Bay. They were so en­am­oured with their al­most com­pleted house, they de­cided to forgo a hon­ey­moon and, in­stead, pre­pared to move in as soon as they could.

The house quickly be­came a land­mark, par­tic­u­larly at night. There are 270 LED lamps and ceil­ing lights, in­side and out­side. The Baums like to keep the out­side light­ing switched on through­out the night “be­cause it’s beau­ti­ful”. The house is so bril­liantly lit up, that Ca­ble Bay lo­cals af­fec­tion­ately call it Times Square.

Floor to ceil­ing win­dows shape three sides of the house, al­low­ing un­in­ter­rupted views to the sea, the in­let, Delaware Bay and Pepin Is­land. Nel­son ar­chi­tect Justin Fletcher at Red­box de­signed the house, while Marek threw him­self into the in­te­rior de­sign, sourc­ing fur­nish­ings and light­ing fea­tures lo­cally and from Europe. He even dug his toes in and won a bat­tle with the coun­cil so they could in­stall a Dominique Im­bert hang­ing fire­place from France.

“Our life has changed so much since we came to Ca­ble Bay,” says Detlef. “It’s like a hol­i­day home that makes us for­get any stress.” >

THIS PAGE (from top) The view from the guest room. The master bed­room has glass slid­ing doors and wa­ter views; Marek or­dered white leather beds from Ger­many for both bed­rooms, and quickly re­alised he would have to buy all the linen to fit from Ger­many, too.

OP­PO­SITE (clock­wise from top) The en suite shower is a walk-through space with a wall of Gi­gacer con­crete tiles in Graphite sep­a­rat­ing it from the basins and a wall of nat­u­ral split-stone stacked slate; the en suite and many other sur­faces, in­clud­ing the floors, are by lo­cal com­pany Sur­face De­sign. The guest room chair is a vin­tage piece from Edito. Liv­ing De­sign in Ma­hana made the or­ange bed­side ta­bles as well as the light­box fea­ture in the din­ing area.

There was just one more thing they needed to do to feel truly at home – be­come New Zealand cit­i­zens. Neigh­bours sup­ported them at the cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony. Detlef shed a few tears and Marek was shak­ing; ner­vous about read­ing his dec­la­ra­tion aloud.

De­spite be­ing the driv­ing force be­hind em­i­grat­ing, Marek knew only a few words of English when they ar­rived in 2007. He be­came des­per­ately homesick and talked of go­ing home to Ger­many. Detlef was work­ing, Benno was in quar­an­tine, their con­tainer of be­long­ings had not ar­rived, they were liv­ing in a mo­tel room, and Marek couldn’t con­verse with the lo­cals.

Detlef re­mem­bers com­ing home on more than one oc­ca­sion to find Marek had packed his suit­case. Even now, he re­turns to Ger­many at least twice a year.

So, what if Detlef sug­gested they sell Times Square and say “Auf Wieder­se­hen, good­bye” to their life in New Zealand?

“Oh, God, no!” Marek ex­claims, in per­fect English.

THESE PAGES (clock­wise from left) The Ca­ble Bay es­tu­ary, with Pepin Is­land be­yond, pro­vides tran­quil views from the master bed­room and din­ing room. Al­most 20 na­tive Pit­tospo­rum tenuifolium ‘Golf Ball’ shrubs adorn the min­i­mal­ist gar­dens; the steel sculp­tures are by For­est Fu­sion in Ma­pua. The glass slid­ers off the din­ing room can be pushed wide open to trans­form the space for al­fresco din­ing; the New Zealand­made Lujo lounger is one of a pair – a very re­cent pur­chase.

THIS PAGE (from top) The bleached oak din­ing room ta­ble came from Ger­many and is sur­rounded by Pan­ton chairs. Marek at­tends to guests’ drinks; in the back­ground is Paula Kilkelly from the Baums’ favourite cater­ers, Gourmet Cater­ing. OP­PO­SITE (from top) Al­most the en­tire front of the house can be opened to the out­doors; on the back wall of the liv­ing room is a colour-chang­ing light­box dis­play­ing Höglund art glass. The Ital­ian leather lounge suite by Camerich is from lo­cal de­sign store Edito, as is the green re­pro­duc­tion Egg chair; the 3-D Erato wall light is by Welling­ton light­ing de­signer Daz Hunter of Ma­trix De­sign.

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