Duck Creek Road

When considering Sally and Derek Holland’s property, one word springs to mind: generous. It describes the property’s bountiful olive grove, orchards and vegetable gardens; the spectacular views from every corner and Sally and Derek themselves.

Nestled in Mahurangi Valley, Duck Creek is most famous for its multi-award winning extra virgin olive oil. A century ago this was the site of Morrison’s fruit orchards, but now the land is planted with a blend of olive trees – grown, harvested and blended along organic principles by Sally and Derek.

The couple have been at Duck Creek for just over five years.  “We always say the house was designed and built for the previous creative owners, but made for us”. 

Their style and collection of antiques and art has evolved over many years restoring villas, the transition from historic to new has been made seamlessly.

“One of my favourite details is the kitchen cabinets and splashback, made from commercial security glass,” says Sally. The square grid that runs through the glass may have been a nightmare for the cabinetmaker to install, but the results add another layer of texture, character and fun to the space. “Their simplicity belies their complexity!” says Sally.

The architectural design of Duck Creek is difficult to define but easy to love. Straight clean lines and industrial materials, tick all the modernist boxes, but that doesn’t quite do justice to the character and warmth that radiates throughout. It could fit in just as well, in California, in Tuscany or France. Designed by architect David Ponting and built from tilt precast concrete with rusty iron details and blonded cedar beams, the use of eclectic materials continues through to the furniture. This includes the bespoke sideboards and shelving constructed out of beautifully aged copper, that came from a historic building in Auckland.

The house opens onto the surrounding landscape through wide doorways, blurring the lines between inside and out. Each opening frames a different view: from the kitchen the walled garden overflows with herbs, citrus and ornamentals; from the dining room the olive grove and 90-year-old plum tree, a living monument to the property’s history. However, the most spectacular views are from the tower, constructed from poured concrete, with a layer of exposed aggregate visible inside and out. Each of the three flights open onto bedrooms for visiting friends and family, and overlook the gardens, neighbouring dairy farms and vineyards.

 “We joined the dots with the landscaping,” says Sally. “Along with the potager garden, we added camellia hedging, doubled the orchards and vegetable gardens, and built the greenhouse.”

The gardens are another example of the generosity of the place – providing all the produce they need across the seasons.

The couple do all the groundwork, including the lawns. “Sally starts at one end on the ride on, and I do the details with the lawn mower, we meet somewhere in the middle after about twelve hours.”

It’s a labour of love, and as Derek says: “You don’t ever really retire, you just start new projects.”