For the second year, we are so excited to be recipients of Booking.com’s Guest Review Awards!  Thank you to all of our fabulous guests for taking the time to share their thoughts on the House, their experience and this amazing place we live in!

Thank you!




We had the choice in school to choose the foreign language we wanted to study.  I think there were just two choices – French or Spanish.  My mom encouraged my brothers to take French so I just fell in line and chose it too.

We began our language studies when we were about 12-13 I think.  I remember my first French teacher vividly.  He was the first French person that I ever met – and he truly was the stereotypical definition of French to my teenage world.  Tall and wicked thin, thick accent like he just got off the plane wild curly hair, and I think he wore some sort of white shirt, black tie and jeans combo uniform.  He was just the right mixture of outspoken, tell-it -like-it-is communicator with a dash of inappropriateness.  His accent was amazingly thick and his stories grandiose.  I studied with him during my time in middle school and then went on to continue my French studies all through high school and college.  When I graduated from college, they found out I needed one more class to actually get my diploma – so French yet again.

I’ve never had a real ear for foreign languages.  I am a ‘big picture’ kind of person, and getting the accent marks right or really understanding the tenses just really never sparked my joy.  I loved hearing the language and dreaming of Paris…but always was and still am, very timid when I speak French.  (Actually one sentence I can say loudly and clearly when I speak French is just that “Je suis tres timide quand je parle en Francais!”)

When I moved to London, I began travelling quite often to France and was able to bust out my knowledge.  It’s not great, but I can order food, wine, ask for the check (l’addition si vous plait,) check into a hotel, explain who I am, where I come from, get about on public transportation and in cabs, and oddly, due to one missed bus when travelling with my mom, aunt and our friend….convince total strangers to give us a lift in their car.  I got to really know Paris and felt very proud that I could take visiting friends around that gorgeous city with ease.

Recently this small amount of language has been put to the test at the House….for some reason the start of 2016 has brought 3 different sets of French speaking guests to the House.  One funny man, when he found out I spoke French, would not speak to me in English….that check-in process took awhile.  The most recent couple were fabulous and I had fun translating between them and some Canadian guests that were in the breakfast lounge.  Put down your phone, no google translator needed!

Coming from that kooky French class when I was a teenager through to today – it’s amazing where life takes you, and what skills you may need when you get there.

Off to practice my past participles and dream of Paris once again….








Roar of the engines


We had guests arriving last week who rented out the whole House for one night.  When I asked them what time they thought they’d arrive, they mentioned that they were on a ‘bike tour’ so would likely be late afternoon.

I assumed that a ‘bike tour’ meant mountain biking…so when we were sitting having a wine and chatting at the end of the day and suddenly we couldn’t hear each other talk, I knew I had it wrong.  My mistake – a ‘bike tour’ to these Frenchmen meant Harleys.

They were celebrating a 50th birthday by doing a four day ride around the North Island.  I had no idea you could even hire Harleys.  Neither did Rodney, and I think I know what he’ll want when he reaches that milestone.

What a great way to see this beautiful country!

Guest Stories


We recently had a mid-week booking for two nights, for three couples.  I love it when we have a full House with guests that have travelled together, and was delighted to see them pull up in one car and welcome them.

They requested pizzas one night, and we enjoyed lighting up the oven and sharing the knowledge that we’ve obtained so far from being part time pizza makers, (00-flour for our home-made dough, let the dough rest at least 24 hours, polenta on the paddle to ensure it slips off easily, olive oil on the crust, plenty of fresh herbs and of course chilies.)

We tried to ensure that they had all they needed, but allow them a bit of peace and privacy.

Towards the end of their trip they shared that they have know each other for 20+ years and for about the past 10-12 have travelled together once a year.  One couple plans it and keeps it a secret.  They sometimes drive hours out of their way (like coming to us from Napier) to keep the other couples guessing where they are going.

We were so honored that they chose the House for this year’s trip and to hear how much they enjoyed their stay (the most lovely review on Trip Advisor.)

Love hearing the life stories of our guests and hearing of people making the time for the people who matter most to them.

Day Nineteen – emotions


Moved To Tears
Describe the last time you were moved to tears by something beautiful.

I write often about how we feel that it is a great honor to share, even for just a small time, in the lives of our guests.  We get to witness their celebrations as many stay for birthdays, or weddings or anniversaries.  Moms and Dads schedule time away for a date-night, or a night away to connect before an impending birth.

Tourists come, thousands of miles from their home to see this beautiful country.  They take time away from their families and friends, spend a great deal of money on travel to take in the sights.  I love helping them find things in Taranaki that they love and to experience all that it has to offer.

I have shared the morning of the wedding with many wedding parties, beautiful brides and emotional families.   That is HUGE to me.    Bringing water, checking in to see if anyone needs a coffee, an iron, asking if they are OK.  It doesn’t feel like work, it feels like an awesome way to spend the day and when they do drive off to get married I feel like popping some champagne!

I cried twice this weekend when I saw brides for the first time.  I can’t stop it, the tears just come seeing them look so beautiful, radiating happiness and love, excited for the day and ceremony that are about to begin.  It gives me goosebumps, and I truly mean it when I tell brides that it’s my pleasure to host them.

But the answer to this question is a memory that really sticks with me more than the beautiful brides.  I cried openly during a check-out with a guest recently.  I knew they were in town visiting a relative in a care home.  When they were checking out, I asked if they had enjoyed their time in New Plymouth and were able to connect with the relative.  The gentleman shared very sweetly, very openly and very simply. It was a tough morning for him, as he was about to say goodbye to his dad, and would likely not see him again before his passing.

I found it so beautiful for so many reasons.

Firstly that he had come, spent time, showed up, during a very difficult and tough time.  Many people would shy away, ignore the situation and wait until faced with sad news.  It takes a lot to show up in situations of great sadness and importance.  We don’t always get the chance to say goodbye to those we love.  After years of being present with my dad’s illnesses, I almost missed his final days. I chose to come home from London and rent an apartment locally for a few months – but that weekend planned two nights away with my college friends. I needed some time away from the 12 hour hospital shifts and my mom so desperately wanted me to get away, relax and laugh with my dear friends.  It took a kind Aunt who is so connected to the family, to look at the situation and tell me once I landed after the short flight to, “come back home Rachel, he isn’t doing well.” For that truth, I am ever grateful.  I got hours with my dad and I will never forget them.

Secondly – this guest shared his story with me.  What strength that took for him to be honest with me, to bring up a very hard situation and to be real.  We all go about our days interacting with people and may never know what they are going through.  He had every right to be short with me, to be rushed and dismissive.  To be angry and take that out on those around him.  But he chose honesty.

It was a beautiful moment – and I cried with him.