Hi I'm Ruvé and I'm Steve and we're sitting here looking at the view at our lovely holiday Cottage in Whangaroa.
We certainly remember the moment that we decided we would have to be Off-Grid, Steve and I, because there was no other option and there was no power
here when we bought the cottage and at that point we only had four solar panels on the cabin, yeah, four of them. Four panels four batteries. Yeah, we managed with that for 3 and 1/2 years and until we contacted GridFree for another option. It would have cost a lot more if we'd gone the power way (mains), we didn't want to do that anyway it's nice not to have a bill every month.
Hi! Hi Ruvé. Hi nice to meet you Craig. Same - what a view! Yeah it is a good view isn't it? Yeah, it wasn't always like that though. Ah yeah they cut the trees down ay and opened it up? It happened over quite a lengthy time so seeing that first little bit was great, of water, yeah. And now you have a million dollar view! Million dollar view? Hope so.
Off-Grid living, to us, started in 2013 and learned all sorts of things then, we learned that every night it was a one pot wonder - because then you don't have dishes. When you had a shower you wet yourself and then you soaped yourself by turning it off prior and then you rinse off, so that was another another two minute wonder, until you went to a camping ground and then you could take your time, so what else? Well we only had two solar panels so we always only ever turned one light on we couldn't have all appliances on at the same time could we? No. But we soon learned and so that was our introduction. Couldn't blame the
kids for leaving lights on. No, no we couldn't.
We found this little gem of a property here. There was a lot to do, that's how you could sum it up - a lot to do? Yeah. Yeah. [Steve] hasn't stopped yet, it's been four years. I could just see what we could do with it. I said to him we'll put in a an
offer and if it works it works, if it doesn't work it doesn't work. And blow me down it worked!
We love the area, we love the community. At the point that we bought it of course of course we couldn't see that lovely view, there was a pine plantation in front of us, and we still thought it was not too bad, you know? When you sit on the deck at night and listen to the kiwis it's pretty good yeah that's how we managed to get it and it wasn't what we were looking for because we wanted a place that we could have our family all together, we're quite close to our kids and families and I don't think we went wrong.
Oh it's nice to get out of that hot Northland sun. It is hot today that's for sure! Not a bad view inside the cabin either is it Craig? No! And did you buy this prefabricated? We did! And they shipped it here to site and plonked it down? We had to ship it here, but the green ones are made by a different person. And
what's this one going to be? Is this going to be, like a lounge for the family? This is just going to be for the adults, for living and that, and we've got another one here for the grandchildren to be in and then there's a replica of this one on the front on the other side of the kitchen. Oh yes, yes I saw that one.
You know I wanted a 'U' shape here because of it being a nice outdoor living area you know? And fabulous deck joining it all together, which is really nice, oh this is going to be amazing this summer! Yeah, hopefully so! Yeah, lucky you've got enough solar to keep the family going. Oh we've got plenty of solar, I have it on good authority, yeah - do you want to have a look at the other cabins? Yeah let's check them out.
Well this is the children's dormitory, you can see the mattresses. And then we have the bathroom over here that just needs to be hooked up, so it isn't yet so, and hopefully in the next couple of weeks we've got the kitchen finished, so fingers crossed for that one! Yeah. It's going to be a fantastic little area when it's finished! Well hoping so! We'll be having some family gatherings, I don't know maybe we'll have a 'let's finish the projects' party, who knows!?
Steve and I are really enjoying being on solar power for the simple reason, money-wise, is that you have no power accounts once you have installed your kit whatever it might be.
We got the two GridFree Lifestyle Kits so we now have an abundance of power for the sized cottage we have with a backup of a generator which we haven't used here yet because we are finding we have sufficient power for our needs, at the moment. So not having to have a power account it actually makes you feel, it's it's an atmosphere thing for us. Freedom. It's the freedom of being able to enjoy something that is natural that and that's what we are trying to do with even the sections along with the cottage and the complex.
We have the Lifestyle Kit and this is the one for the cottage and we have the identical setup in the control room behind the complex over there. And did you install it yourself or did you get an electrician in? No, we had an electrician. A lot of people get an electrician in rather than do it themselves. Yeah, absolutely. So the idea is you have this one here that runs your cottage and then you have another
kit over there for when the family come to visit? Yep, absolutely. So you have two systems, right. And you're running your fridge and everything off this one now do you run a freezer at all? Um, well it's a fridge freezer that we've got but we've been using all the appliances, we're finding it great! I mean after four panels it was, it's tremendous! Yes! And absolutely the kit that we wanted, we wanted more not less, you know? Yeah we've got plenty!
Steve, your routine is really straight ay? At the moment. You get up, your overalls go on, and off he goes down to the wood pile, it's taken him 2 years to get it down to that from all the trees that were found. So we have planted so many plants, we've sort of learned now what grows well and what doesn't grow well. I usually get out in the garden and there's always weeds to pull up and pruning to do.
Challenges that Steve and I face? When we first came here, trying to get the section on the go before we even looked at the cottage, that was a challenge. You can't be in the right mind space if you're all looking at rubbish all around your place. You need to get rid of that first and then move on to the next challenge and then the next one, and you have to look at and get your priorities, you know? What is the most important thing we have to do first? And the first thing we did was the side deck wasn't it? And that was for the simple reason that you know we were slopping around in clay because we bought it at the end of the winter. You just have to work out those challenges and do it you know as as we need it ay?
We have not been out on that water yet, we've been centering on trying to go through all of the challenges ahead of us so that we can just sit back now and enjoy everything. We'll be off into every bay in this harbour as soon as we can.
When we had the digger work done we had a nice big parking area down on the bottom of the cottage section for caravans and campers registered as members of the New Zealand Caravan Association. Because that's what we did when we spent those two years on the road learning all about being off grid in our fifth wheeler. When you have spent time on the road you'd like to have people around and share in your property and and the lovely view we have now and we have so many people that just keep coming back here so that is a part of what we do here.
Right so this is the top level, uh, below the cottage and we've sometimes had camper vans parked here so that they have a better view for the for the water. Ah so they'll come up and park a camper van here and stay the night? Yes, yes! So come on down. Right, so this is the little Bush Hut. This is where the campers come to sign in, in the register book. And there's a little Library just on the back wall here and sometimes in the winter time when it's cold people have written in the register book in the comments that they've sat and read a book in the chair there so, they think it's a little cute.
Fantastic! And this is the parking area here? That is the parking area, yeah. It actually depends on how big the vehicles are as to how many I can let in for the night, especially caravans, and I think you have a caravan don't you? Yeah I do, I do - my caravan is not self-contained, you need them to be self-contained here though don't you? Absolutely self-contained. Yeah. Brilliant. They come and go sometimes we can have several a night and sometimes we don't have somebody for four or five nights, you know, but at least we've got it set up that we don't have to be here, you know, they have to phone. We enjoy it!
The favourite feature is the peace. And everybody that comes here and sits on the deck and looks around especially at high tide they just say 'it's so peaceful', you know? And we're very fortunate not to have close neighbors - we have the space around us, we've got space in front, we've got space behind. It is really really peaceful and we've never sat on a deck so much I don't think since we came here.
This property, well these all around us, if you arrived here 30 years ago would still look like this, you know? Before the pines. You know like it's like if they've wound the clock back and pressed pause, you know? This place it's back to basics, basically!
Well it is but it's got everything we need. The community here is like it used to be 40 years ago, you know? Yesterday we had two lots of neighbors come in, one bought us smoked fish, and the other bought us avocados. Steve and I absolutely love being here, we're not suffering in any way by being off grid now that we have done the work. This lifestyle works for us, it doesn't hold us back from doing anything, does it? No, not really. Well we lived it once 30 years ago. We really have implemented our dream of a place to go for the family to enjoy together and still have our home that we raised our family in and that's a blessing.