Like other parts of New Zealand, living along the water is a preferred location, and new houses are squeezed onto steep hillsides facing the bays or open ocean. We have seen houses built very close to the roadside, or on stilts that are three stories on the downhill side with the foundation sitting on the hillside at the upper end. I’m not sure how confident I would be of living in a house cantilevered off the side of a cliff in a place prone to earthquakes, but that’s what we see all around us. Most of the time, I think they are fine, though occasionally an earthquake wreaks havoc.
We have seen refreshing experimentation with architecture and design in New Zealand. There are Victorian style buildings that emulate structures built during the 1840s when the island’s first Europeans arrived. Old style houses may be interspersed with contemporary homes built with repurposed shipping containers, corrugated metal quonset huts, acres of glass, and sharp angles.
Even traditional-looking homes are likely to have the entire side facing the sun replaced with sliding glass doors to bring the sun in during the cooler part of the year. There is a lot of variety in architecture, from antique to futuristic.
There is an emphasis on nature, focus on the distinctive native wildlife, and bold colors and patterns. Though the houses we have rented tend to be middle of the road family homes, one had a maroon kitchen.
In Mangonui, the Old Oak used to be the Mangonui Hotel, the first hotel in town. It retains the traditional exterior with an updated interior. The headboard of our bed was an antique wood mantel, while the furnishings were contemporary.
I am sure there is lots more out there, and I enjoyed the stylish places we saw and visited.