As it was left behind

Hokitika, Aotearoa New Zealand


Nestled deep in the West Coast bush, in a valley somewhere between Barrytown and Hokitika this house sits exactly as it was left the day that it was last slept in.

You follow a stream bed to reach the house high up on the hill looking out to ocean and nothingness (and everything). It was built by hand with the help of many friends and helicopters. This place has been solitude and inspiration; it has been a place of hospitality and spectacular parties; it has been love and families and children; it has been heartbreak — everything that a home built by hand and lived in fully contains.

The kitchen shelves have bottles of homemade sauces and chutneys neatly stacked alongside each other. The pantry consists of large matching glass jars filled with grains. There is evidence of a possum raid in the night. Old cuisine magazines line the shelves alongside ‘The Less Stress cookbook’ and a manila folder titled ‘Films’. The late evening sun pours through and captures everything in a timeless light.

The bedroom is dominated by a large wooden hanging bed that is suspended from the ceiling in the centre of the room on an angle at opposition to the walls. Books, trinkets, clothes, pictures lay dormant slowly being encased in a spiders weave. On the edge of the bed lies a couple of books, alongside a phone and a jumper slung over the side of the bed.

There is a study tucked at the back of the house. A darker room with only a small window lined with large pieces of pounamu and old batteries. Stacks of the guardian magazine sit on the floor and India guide books sit in the bookshelf. The desk is stacked high with papers yet to be filed.

The living room is on the top floor with windows on all sides and an expansive view outwards. Three chairs vacantly face the view. An impressive tape collection sits on the shelves dating the occupants back to the 70s. Paperbacks, records and an old vacuum cleaner remain coated in a layer of dust. A beautiful old piano, lid closed, sits on the back wall against a boarded up window. Doors on either side lead out to old balconies that have rotted through with only the frames remaining. These are the bones of another time in someone’s life. This house remains filled with the remnants of their story; the items and the ideas that fuelled their perception of life looking out over an expanse of ocean in a remote corner of the world.

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