Beautiful beaches & stunning scenery await those who join us at Maraetai beach on the Pohutukawa Coast, the most eastern part of Auckland.
I'm your host Simon and I'm living the dream with my Rottweiler puppy 'Bear', kitten 'Dude' and three sons aged 5, 8 & 11 who live with me half of each week. I love adventure & the outdoors and love to be on the water, up the mountain or in the forest as much as possible. I'm an animal lover, especially dolphins and whales which we're lucky enough to often see on the water. I'm also a volunteer marine mammal medic with Project Jonah NZ and attend whale strandings all over NZ. If there's a stranding you might just be invited to come along for the adventure of a lifetime. For me, life is about the journey not the destination, its about experiences, learning's, connections & collaboration. Its about having fun & enjoyment and celebrating life's accomplishments along the way!
I'm inviting volunteers to come and experience a kiwi life with our relaxed family while helping us maintain and develop the property, in particular enhancing the tropical gardens and small orchard which we hope to transform into a thriving food forest. If your journey in life intersects with ours and you enjoy a stay with us then in your spare time you can enjoy the many benefits this magical place has to offer. This might include mountain biking the forest or coast & relaxing on the beautiful sands & waters around Maraetai (which offer great swimming, fishing, kayaking) as well as the coastal walkway for walking, running, or biking. Ideally, we'd like helpers to commit to a min of 1-2 weeks. No experience is necessary, all you need is a fun, positive 'attitude of gratitude' a willingness to learn and help, as well as a love of animals, children, and life in general!
In English, Maraetai means "meeting place by the sea" and our 4-5-bedroom home is located 100 meters walk from the beautiful beach. Maraetai is approx. 40 mins drive from the Auckland airport or CBD. It's in the east and close enough to Auckland city to catch a bus or ferry, yet far enough away to escape the ‘hustle and bustle’ of city life. It’s one of Auckland's best-kept secrets, and a great place to do a little work - and lots of chilling out, the ideal place to experience a taste of kiwi lifestyle! The property is adjacent to the beautiful green belt of the Maraetai forest which is recognized as one of Auckland’s most diverse examples of our historic native flora and fauna. Our gardens attract many vocal native bird species including Fantails, Tui’s, and Kereru which provide a verbal symphony that our guests always enjoy. The forest also provides direct access to some of Auckland’s newest mountain bike trails so if you like to ride the entrance is only a couple of hundred meters away or you can choose to ride/walk the coastal trail and explore the many beautiful swimming spots along the way. Mountain bikes, yoga mats, and fishing rods are available for your use at any time, and almost all of my guests to date have enjoyed the use of my neighbor's paddle-boards.
Maraetai is also very well known in Auckland as it boasts a famous wharf, as it just happens to be the best wharf in Auckland to jump off! Most of us Kiwis grow up as kids each summer jumping off wharf’s doing “bombs’ competing to make the biggest splash. The current generation of kids now refer to this as a “Manu” and have taken this fun a step further as the 'manu' is about technique and the art of making a bomb look beautiful. People come from far and wide to bomb/manu off Maraetai wharf at high tide and often it is part of our daily ritual to wander down and get a dose of this daily fun. We hope you may join us.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Babysitting and creative play
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
If you choose to come join us on our journey you will be treated as part of our family and provided with meals and accommodation. You will be living with a relaxed Kiwi family at the beach and in your spare time you can enjoy all that Maraetai beach and the Pohutakawa Coast has to offer. Our learnings will be your learning's and you will also be contributing to help enhance and preserve a little slice of kiwi paradise!
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
You will be contributing to the family by helping us out with all sorts of things like gardening, landscaping, planting, painting, general household chores/maintenance or even hanging out watching the boys or taking the dog for a walk. It is essential you can be flexible and ‘go with the flow’ when staying with us. Generally, we would expect 4-5 hours help a day (only 5 days a week) in return for us providing food, accommodation and a taste of our lifestyle experience. Saturday & Sundays are your own time to do what you please. If we have plans as a family you'll often be invited to join us but your also free to chase your own adventures or just relax and recharge.
The next stage of the project will involve finalizing drainage and planting plan as well as the relocation of the boy's large half-pipe skateboard ramp. There is also always ongoing garden maintenance work including soil reconditioning, planting & landscaping. As a busy father of three, help with the children & general household chores/maintenance is also something I almost always need so it's essential visitors are flexible and ‘go with the flow’. The property takes advantage of water drawn direct from the Maraetai aquifer (underground) so we'll also shortly start work on implementing a plan for this to better benefit the orchard/food forest - as well as feed the outdoor bathtub we want to install somewhere in the garden!
What ever work we do we will always consider the bigger picture and how permaculture-inspired solutions can help us mitigate, protect or enhance the the local community, environment, and bigger eco-system we are part of! I'm motivated to involve the children and guests as much as possible in order to help you all see the bigger picture and foster the connection to the environment that I have.
Our property is only 100 meters walk from Maraetai Beach in Auckland and enjoys beautiful sea views across the Hauraki Gulf & Waiheke Island. We have a modern cozy self-contained one-bedroom flat/apartment available with a king-size bed, TV, Wifi and its own bathroom and kitchenette (to make snacks/coffee/tea, etc). We also have an additional cabin up in our garden/orchard with another double bed. Single mattresses could be provided upon arrangement.
Visitors will be able to enjoy all areas of the house and be encouraged to interact and be part of our family 'as much or as little' as they feel comfortable. We will provide food during your stay and we enjoy a healthy balanced diet and can cater for vegetarians.
The Maraetai Beach Project is part of a much bigger story about connection, collaboration, and appreciation for our local environment and the bigger ecosystem we all are part of! When we arrived in February 2020 I'd always been interested in the concept of developing a food forest and I'd heard of WWOOF's/Workaway's and thought they could help with some labor which was quickly confirmed by my first guests from Germany. Little did I know my guests would help the project become so much more and transcend my initial goals. In February COVID 19 rocked the world before we'd even unpacked our moving boxes and when it hit NZ it changed everything. Pre-COVID I'd been receiving around five inquiries a week and then like many hosts I stopped accepting guests because the risk was high. Inquiries doubled to ten a week, then overnight to ten a day and then more than fifty a day! Just prior to NZ closing its borders there was an estimated 250,000 travelers here from all over the world and when NZ's first lock-down was announced I received a hundred inquiries in a day, all from worried young travelers isolated from their friends & family. So I decided the risk of not helping might be worse than the risk of helping and I filled my empty rooms taking in three travelers from France & Italy, I didn't really have much work so put them to work trying to help others and responding to every inquiry I'd had.
On the eve of lock-down inquiries were still flowing in, so we had a team meeting to discuss fitting more people in. Lock-down 1 was scheduled to begin that night at midnight and given there was now also risk to my guests I proposed a vote. I didn't even get to vote as the children and all three guests voted in favor of moving beds around and helping more people. At one minute before the scheduled start of NZ's first lock-down I picked up two more travelers, also from France.
With five travelers our house was the 'united nations' of lock-downs. There were 9 of us including the children. We had never met each other before and now we were in a type of quarantine together. It was our 'bubble' and it would be the only people we would see for the next 5 weeks, and luckily they were all awesome!
Initially I just thought I was helping provide a safe place to weather a storm. But it became evident very quickly that lock-down and my guests would have a positive effect on the family and provide an opportunity to focus on connections & learning's. Schools were closed and my guests started to help my children with lessons their teachers provided online until I realized the true opportunity before me. The teachers lessons soon took a back seat as my guests began to teach the children (and myself) aspects of their own cultures. Mine were the luckiest children in lock-down and not only were they blessed with teachers but might have a French one in the morning and an Italian one in the afternoon. They learned arts and crafts from around the world, baked German biscuits & Israeli Breads. The contributions from my guests made the project about much more than just a food forest!
I was learning about permaculture principles and in those early days we would drink wine and watch the sunset over the forest each while discussing these. My guests seemed to embrace these concepts and were motivated to be part of it and contribute. I had a food business and often had to work throughout lock-down but would come home where my guests would share their learning's, sometimes things Id never even considered. The more I learned, the more there was to consider,it was no longer just about planting more food-bearing trees. My guests helped me consider a much bigger picture that would have a much greater impact! I quickly started to appreciate the power of people, in terms of motivation and collaboration. 'Team work is dream work' and when people work together they can move mountains.
The Maraetai Beach Project has become my vehicle to learn and share with my three young boys and future guests. Its my opportunity to share my learning's & philosophies on the value of connections with people and our environment. Hopefully its also a vehicle which may help inspire my children and a future generation of forward thinkers & eco-warriors more conscious of the bigger picture and ecosystem we are part of. One day in the future these generations including people like you, may be the ones responsible for making the most important decisions that will preserve and protect our plant.
If you’re interested in coming to visit and joining us for a stay we welcome your inquiry.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Parking on street only
happy to consider pets
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week