I feel I’m the luckiest girl in the world!

After searching for six years for a tranquil place with bird song and water, a place to settle, I found it in Broad Bay. But it has been quite a journey to get here.

For 22 years I ran Gowrie House B&B in Roslyn. For 10 of those years I managed on my own following the death of my dear husband, Rod. Finally, I’d had enough and decided it was time to travel. I sold up, packed up, backpack in tow, and took off. No plan. Had the most wonderful adventures for five months. I returned to NZ in 2015 to spend Christmas with family and suffered an accident that ended my travel plans and left me with severe concussion. I limped along for the next six years, house sitting between bouts of treatment and time with family, but really needing a place of my own again where I could chill out and recover. Family and friends were all on the look-out for me.

Anzac Day 2021 was my red letter day. After the dawn service, my friend took me to breakfast at Rhubarb. Our conversation turned to a trip out to Broad Bay. Someone mentioned a section was for sale there. We had a glorious drive out on the Otago Peninsula where I hadn’t been for many years and went to see the section at 6 Gwyn Street. It was a small section, the garden completely overgrown, with a cottage that was to be demolished to make way for a planned property. We discovered there was an “open home” that afternoon, so we returned later to talk to the agent. He told us about plans for a new buiding on the section, but we were not allowed in the old cottage as it was considered a health and safety hazard. However as my friend was in construction we were able to get permission to enter … and I fell in love with the cottage as well as with the view. I wanted it!

Aerial view of the section in Gwyn Street

At my friend’s suggestion, I wrote a letter to the owner who lived in America telling of my journey over the past seven years. I put in an offer, and it was accepted!

The cottage was in a very poor state – most of the floors were rotten and a smell of mould pervaded the place. Many people would have pulled it down and started afresh, but there was something charming about it that made me want to save it. It was a challenge! A huge restoration project. Lots of work had to happen – and fast – for me to be able to live there.

There followed six weeks of hugely busy weekends with machinery and much help from friends organising everything to make my new home safe and warm.

What makes the house different is an octagonal room at one end topped with an iron turret roof. When I talked to neighbours about this, it was mentioned that it might have been an artifact from the South Seas Exhibition in 1925. I had not heard of the exhibition before, but when I was in the lawyers office paying for the house, I saw on their wall a picture of the South Seas Exhibition. What a co-incidence!  Since then I have discovered one other house in Brighton with a similar roof, and heard of one rotting in a paddock near there. What were they? Perhaps ticket offices or information booths? I would like to know more.

I have now lived in Gwyn Street for two years and I’m so very grateful to be here. I love and appreciate this place.

By Vivienne Nye

The picture on the wall of the lawyer’s office
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