A VACATION VOCATION
WORDS Joshua Brosnahan PHOTOS Elise Rutherford & Francis Streisel
A change in scenery after two decades of dairy farming meant the beginnings of a unique journey for Richie and Kate Bocock and their family. Their venture Te Wepu has carried on the original farm name and is an ‘intrepid pod retreat’ in French Farm, on the Banks Peninsula.
The Pods use natural spring water and are surrounded by bush that regenerated after dairying stopped on the farm, in the ’70s. The couple has a background in agriculture – a move to the peninsula from Ashburton meant there were ‘a lot of boxes ticked’ for the lifestyle the family were searching for.
An original plan was to obtain more land for farming, but Kate confesses the idea of a glamping set up ‘grew legs’ and became a way the Bococks could live off the 30 hectares.
The Bocock’s property had a former life as a dairy farm. French Farm Valley, formerly the vegetable garden for the original French settlers, boasts great soils, climate, and water. The spot was also used as a bach, with the farm leased out to local farmers. The couple has used these advantages to attempt an avocado grove, and close to 80 trees planted on site are currently experiencing their first Canterbury winter.
The idea behind the Te Wepu pods started with a simple discussion on how Richie and Kate could share the amazing views with others. The Bococks wanted something different to the other traditional ‘glamping’ tent options on offer.
“The idea grew, and once it seemed it could be done, we just went for it. Looking back, it seems like a bold move, but we are pleased we backed ourselves to make the change of vocation.
“We wanted to do something really interesting, and by chance, we have the property that lends itself to this type of business.”
Kate enjoys the hospitality side of things, ensuring guests arrive to a Barrys Bay cheese board with homemade crackers. Dinner hampers are available, with farm grown meat and a bottle of local vino. There are even marshmallows to toast on the fire pit.
Richie loves the interaction with the guests while doing the odd bit of farming to ‘balance things out’. He mentions there’s ‘a late checkout, so there is no need to rush off the next morning’.
The couple was pleasantly surprised at how many men have shown their enthusiasm for the pod experience.
“Their primal instincts seem to take over with great delight at the sight of the fire pit, and wood-fed hot tub and BBQ. “It’s very ‘man make fire’, while the lady sits in hot tub. It’s a win-win for couples”, Kate laughs.
The couple mention they ‘couldn’t imagine it would be as busy as it has been’ and the Te Wepu Pods has developed into a full-time job.
“We seem to have made our ‘vacation’ our ‘vocation’ but looking back we can’t believe we are here doing what we do. We took some huge risks, and our enthusiasm certainly raised a few eyebrows, but we are loving it.”