According to Rural Life, Patrick and Amber Tyrrell are genuinely living the dream. It sounds a little like something out of a film script: South African farmer’s son meets Waitaki Valley farmer’s daughter in a co-operative agricultural community in the Israeli desert.
Eventually, they move to the Waitaki Valley, where they build an off-the-grid home with spectacular views, and focus on getting down to earth — literally. In February last year, Mr. and Mrs. Tyrrell launched Valley Views Glamping (glamorous camping) on their property in the foothills below Mount Domett.
“It feels like we’ve found our calling in life,” Mrs. Tyrrell said. Establishing such a business in what many overseas visitors would consider being the backblocks was a big risk, they acknowledged. But it was fast paying off as they encountered visitors from around the world, with whom they could share their story and vision.
“Stuck up here up this hill, looking at the beautiful view, we had no-one to share it with before — [Now] we’re sharing it with people all over the world. Even the locals don’t know what’s up to these side roads,” Mrs. Tyrrell said.
Mrs. Tyrrell (nee Slee) grew up on a farm just down the road from Valley Views, while her husband came from a farm on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, about 100km from Port Elizabeth, which produced citrus, tobacco, and vegetables.
It was a very similar area to the Waitaki Valley, although it had a different kind of beauty, the trained civil engineer said. The couple met in Israel, during their overseas adventures, and was married 25 years ago. They later settled in Christchurch and bought their 40ha property, near Otiake, at the end of 2007. Their vision was simple — they wanted to build an off-the-grid house, they wanted a view, some trees, and a creek, and they wanted to live a self-sustainable lifestyle. “We’re all about being kind to the earth,” Mrs. Tyrrell said.