Te Aka Treehouse: From Passion Project to Eco-Friendly Retreat

Dave and Lisa the pair behind Te Aka Treehouse in Nelson Creek on the South Island’s West Coast, their passion became a project and then a reality after being inspired to build a treehouse from seeing different treehouse projects around the world.

“We were lucky enough to come across this property and we thought this is just the perfect opportunity to be able to build something really interesting and different and create something special within our own area.” Says Dave

The property is 23 hectares of land that includes native forest and historic mining tunnels left behind from the gold rush. It is now home to their new luxury off-grid treehouse.

“Welcome to Te Aka Treehouse, Native Forest Retreat, one of New Zealand's newest off-grid eco-friendly accommodation on the West Coast.” Says Lisa.

Te Aka treehouses is completely off-grid. It runs off solar energy, rainwater, and vermiculture but the guests still get a luxury experience with hot water, flushing toilet and all the comforts you would expect.

“Te Aka means the vine and we draw inspiration from the vines that grow around the treehouse. So we've got Acacia, which is the little white rata. People don't see that because it grows up in the canopy of the trees. And then we've got a native climbing red rata. So we were inspired by the vine.” Lisa explains

Lisa says what’s special about Te Aka Treehouse is it's private, “when you get into the trees and into the tree house and just relax, you realize that this is yours to enjoy and no one else’s for that moment in time. So it's pretty special to have the comfort of being in a nice accommodation, but having that forest right there.”

Te Aka Treehouse 6

Te Aka features a main unit which has one bedroom, a bathroom including a deep bathtub overlooking the forest, a kitchen as well as living space. There is also the separate sleep room which has a queen bed and loft bed. The sleep house offers separation for families or couples traveling with friends. Both the main house and sleep house have a deck space to take in the beauty of the property.

“This property sits on top of a hill and overlooks Golden Gully, which is a historical mining area. Back in the 1880s, there were approximately 2000 miners working continuously and seeking gold. This part of our property was logged back in the twenties or thirties possibly, and the old technology of the day was steam winches and they weren't able to harvest the big trees. So we're very fortunate to be left with a strip of untouched forest around the top of the property.” Dave explains. “It feels like you're on a national park but you're actually just literally on the balcony of the unit, just one minute walk from the car.” He adds.

“That's what's unique about property because that's seamless. You know, you go from our property and then you're out there, it's conservation land. There's no one here.” Lisa chimes in.

Dave and Lisa are passionate about keeping the forest thriving.

“When we purchased the property, we saw ourselves as caretakers rather than owners. And obviously, we own it. But we feel that we have an obligation to be Kaitiakitanga of this area and preserve it for future generations. That is our ethos that we're here to care for the forest.” Lisa says.

“Four years ago we purchased the property and at that time we immediately realized that the native forests and the birds were under attack.” Says Dave.

The couple noticed that there was a problem with wasps, rats and stoats in the area.

“Straight away we wanted to try and get on top of those and started doing a wasp control program and also the stoat and rat control, which is continued to this day.” Dave adds.

Lisa says they have already seen a massive improvement to the birdlife and health of the forest.

Thomas and Amelia (Dave and Lisa's children) checking a predator control trap

Thomas and Amelia (Dave and Lisa's children) checking a predator control trap

“The first summer, we did the Vespex wasp control. It was just buzzing with wasps and then the next day it just went silent. A huge impact on that first year. And then we continue to do that Vespex program every year and we have 31 DOC 150 traps and that's what we use for stoats and rats. It's very successful. About 120 rats trapped and 33 stoats to date and five stoats this year. So it's very effective.” Lisa finishes.

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