A week­end at John’s House Trupti Bi­radar

Es­capes the chaos of the big smoke to re­treat to the coun­try in ru­ral Have­lock North.

Sunday Star-Times - - New Zealand -

The sun was set­ting and, ex­cept for the few birds that twit­tered around in the trees, there was si­lence. We sat on the deck, sip­ping rose and watch­ing the sky turn shades of or­ange and pur­ple. And sud­denly, just like that, the anx­i­ety and stress of big city life was gone. It’s worth es­cap­ing to the tran­quil­ity of our smaller towns ev­ery now and then.

The set­ting

Hawke’s Bay is home to some of the world’s finest wine, stun­ning ex­am­ples of art deco ar­chi­tec­ture, red­wood forests, cy­cle trails, and ev­ery­thing else you could want for a quiet, yet re­fresh­ing week­end get­away.

Tucked away in ru­ral Have­lock North, a pretty lit­tle sub­urb of Hast­ings, this sprawl­ing 2.2-hectare prop­erty com­prises two sep­a­rate hol­i­day homes – John’s House and The Pav­il­ion, as well as the res­i­den­tial prop­erty of the own­ers Nick and Jude.

The space

Named af­ter Nick’s fa­ther, John Pat­ti­son, and the ar­chi­tect John Scott, our home for the week­end – John’s House – is an ar­chi­tec­tural gem that looks on to a mas­sive gar­den lush with a mix of na­tive, ex­otic and fruit trees. Nearby sheep and cat­tle graze in the pas­ture.

Pat­ti­son, a spit­fire pi­lot in World War II, who sur­vived the bat­tle of Bri­tain and be­ing shot down three times, lived here from 1917 to 2009. He was a sheep and beef farmer be­fore re­tir­ing in 1990, and lit­tle homages to his life are dot­ted around the prop­erty.

There’s am­ple space – two bed­rooms and an ad­join­ing room that to­gether can com­fort­ably sleep around 10 peo­ple, two bath­rooms, a large liv­ing room, kitchen and plenty of out­door space. All ameni­ties are pro­vided for, in­clud­ing tow­els, linen and eco-friendly toi­letries.


The morn­ing we check in, Jude wel­comed us, armed with some homemade bread still warm from the oven, and her sig­na­ture homemade muesli. The pantry is well-equipped with ba­sic cook­ing sup­plies, as well as fresh eggs, milk, jams and pre­serves.

Alessan­dro’s pizze­ria (alessan­drospizze­ria.co. nz) is a short, scenic walk along the Karamu stream run­ning by the prop­erty. And it’s well worth the time to go there. The thin-crust, wood­fired piz­zas were among the best we’ve had. Along Have­lock Rd you’ll find plenty of other res­tau­rants and cafes.

There’s no UberEats in Hawke’s Bay but we did man­age to use the Menu­log app to or­der an abun­dance of In­dian food from a restau­rant nearby. It was tasty but noth­ing spe­cial. Handy if you just want a night in to en­joy the prop­erty.

Worth step­ping out for

You’re in the old­est wine re­gion in New Zealand, and the sec­ond largest af­ter Marl­bor­ough so it would be rude not to sam­ple what’s on of­fer. There are 70 winer­ies and 30 cel­lar doors in this re­gion and many are just a two-minute drive from this prop­erty. Try the re­gion’s fa­mous syrah, mer­lot and caber­net sau­vi­gnon at Mis­sion Es­tate, New Zealand’s old­est win­ery. We chose Ele­phant Hill for a tast­ing and cheese plat­ter. The panoramic views out to Cape Kid­nap­pers are un­par­al­leled.

For an­other iconic view, head up to the 399 me­tre Te Mata Peak. From the view­ing plat­form on the top there’s a pretty spe­cial 360 de­gree view. You can see out to Napier and Mahia Penin­sula and the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maun­ga­haruru ranges. On a clear day you can see as far as Mt Ruapehu.

There are plenty of walk­ing and cy­cling tracks and a spec­tac­u­lar Red­woods for­est nearby.

Also worth a stop is the lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket – we sam­pled the best dosa and cur­ried potato we’ve tasted this side of the world.

There are plenty of stalls with de­li­cious food and pro­duce. Don’t miss the wal­nut brit­tle from Maud & Harry’s Wal­nut Com­pany. It’s a great way to spend any af­ter­noon.

The ver­dict

There’s no doubt that this house is a beau­ti­ful space, tucked away in a tran­quil haven, but what re­ally sets it apart are the lit­tle touches of hos­pi­tal­ity pro­vided by the own­ers. Nick popped by the mo­ment there was a slight chill in the air, fire­wood tucked un­der his arm. In min­utes he had a roar­ing fire go­ing.

On Sun­day, af­ter the sun reap­peared, Nick spent the day as our un­of­fi­cial tour guide, tak­ing us through the winer­ies, up to Te Mata Peak, then on to the farm­ers’ mar­ket for lunch. He had a wealth of knowl­edge and was a plea­sure to spend the day with.

Get­ting there

Jet­star and Air New Zealand both fly to Hawke’s Bay Air­port.

Stay­ing there

John’s House is avail­able to rent on airbnb.co.nz/ rooms/1374954 for $435 a night if you’re one per­son. But this turns into a some­what more af­ford­able $1015 a night if you’re check­ing in with 10 guests, mak­ing this a great op­tion for a large group.

The writer paid for her own flight but was hosted by Airbnb.


John’s House is a beau­ti­ful prop­erty tucked away in ru­ral Have­lock North.

The prop­erty can eas­ily fit 10 peo­ple.

The in­te­rior is bright, spa­cious and com­fort­able.

The Karamu Stream runs be­hind the prop­erty.

It’s a tran­quil spot, and the house fea­tures a large out­doors area.

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