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Can you make a living from a lifestyle block?

Updated: Feb 20

An integral part of the kiwi lifestyle is the great outdoors. Everybody wants their own little piece of outdoor paradise too.

With such an expanse of rural land area and a relatively modest population size, New Zealand is the perfect place to grab yourself a slice of country living and escape the chaos of the big cities.

It is the ultimate kiwi dream to purchase a lifestyle block and escape the rat race. But is it possible to turn this dream into a money-making venture and truly live off the land?

While it's not an easy journey, many have successfully turned their smaller land parcels into a sustainable income. Here, we look at some of the success stories, and what you need to consider if you want to follow in their footsteps.

Options for making a living off a lifestyle block

The Green Thumb route: think you need acres and acres of land to have a successful produce business? Not so! Many small enterprises are putting their horticultural skills to good use. The secret is to find yourself a niche crop - like macadamias or hazelnuts, olive trees or kiwiberries, or even a humble vineyard. With the right knowledge and a lot of hard work, you could have a viable income.

Here are a couple of success stories...

Cathedral Cove Macadamias in Whitianga

Doug and Jillian’s 6.7-hectare block boast around 1000 macadamia trees, along with a variety of NZ native and fruit trees. They also have a delightful menagerie of animals to keep things interesting. Not only do they produce Certified Organic macadamias, but they also have an orchard shop selling a variety of products including oil, dukkah, crumb mixes and of course chocolate coated macadamias!

In many zones in New Zealand, its much easier to sell products you’ve grown or made on your property (as opposed to things you’ve bought in and will on- sell) and in some cases you don’t need resource consent. Give us a call if you’d like to sell something from your lifestyle property.

Hazelnuts in North Canterbury

Hazelnuts were behind the success of Mark and Caroline Eastmond’s lifestyle. In 1992, the couple bought a 20-acre paddock with a house in North Canterbury and turned it into a charming hazelnut orchard with 1300 trees, recognising that it wasn’t big enough to make an income from by doing the more traditional cattle or sheep farming. They later expanded into a nursery propagating the trees for other orchards.

Hazlenuts is a relatively new industry in New Zealand, but market interest is growing.

The Dr Doolittle Route: while you won’t be able to sustain giant herds of cows or flocks of sheep on a smaller lifestyle block, you may find success by focusing on niche areas. This could include options like free-range pigs, specialty goat breeds, or even fancy breeds of poultry.

The Martinborough Goat Herd

Amanda and Lindsey Goodman started their business with a small herd of 25 goats on their land in Martinborough, and now produce a range of gourmet cheeses known as The Drunken Nanny. Their farm has expanded, and their cheeses are now award-winning!

Farm Park

Many people dotted around the country choose to open up a section of their land to the public. They offer an iconic kiwi experience of visiting a farm park. A selection of farm animals, activities and play areas can amuse and delight the young, the old and the tourists. You can even offer snack and cafe options, or simply a lovely area for families to picnic. Bullswool Farm is a great example.

These types of activities are more likely to require resource consent, depending on the areas you live in and exactly what you want to do. Give our team a call to discuss if this option is right for you.

Get Crafty: with all that extra space, your choices for extra income are varied. You could become a beekeeper and produce honey, create cheeses or pickles, grow heirloom vegetables, or have greenhouses full of flowers. The opportunities really are endless for filling your time and your bank account too. With a smaller area of land to use, you really do need to plan carefully, think outside the box, look at new technologies and put in the hard yards.

Things to Consider

Making a living off a lifestyle block is no walk in the park. It requires hard work and considerable investment. But if you are passionate about the what you do and put in the groundwork, you can certainly succeed.

Remember that the land itself must be suitable for your chosen endeavor. So, before you rush out and buy those lush green fields, consider the following aspects:

  • Water supply- how much do you need and is it available? In most rural locations you need to either harvest rain water or use bore water. Some aquifers are fully allocated so you need to do your homework first.

  • Fencing- If you need to do fencing, this can be costly so factor this into your plans,

  • Soil type- Do you have the right soil type and drainage for what you want to do?

  • Weed and pest control

  • The contour of the land

  • Drainage

  • Existing infrastructure

  • Shelter

  • Proximity to amenities.

Most importantly, before you dive in, you will need to check the local council regulations for the land use possibilities. Not all uses of your land can be done without consents, including a resource consent. Some uses of your land may not even be likely to get a resource consent- you need to do your homework first. Remember we have a number of blogs you can access on our website for free, that cover many aspects of property development and land use. You can also subscribe to our website and download our free e-guide, 4 Easy Steps to Getting Resource Consent.

If you have any queries about how you might be able to use a lifestyle block for income potential, then get in touch with the team here at Planning Plus.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2024

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