The story of a Mangawhai woolshed

A hundred years ago, it was a woolshed on the site of the original Te Arai settlement at Mangawhai Heads

The floors of Dawn Chapman’s holiday house at Mangawhai Heads have some interesting marks. They’re a reminder of its previous incarnation as a woolshed, when shearers, dropping their clippers, left dents on the matai floorboards.

An old wool press is now the kitchen bar, there’s an antique set of hand shears on display and a shipping trunk now holds linen.

“From what I have found out it has been around for nearly 100 years and is where the original Te Arai settlement was. The only other thing left is a huge Norfolk pine,” Dawn says.

From the outside, the building still looks like a woolshed; the corrugated iron exterior unchanged. Inside, though, it’s now a comfortable, stylish holiday house, with a light, airy feel, thanks to high ceilings, rafters, an abundance of windows, light wood and white décor.

“It’s really a shed and you can see that because of the structure,” Dawn says. “But it’s unique in that it’s not like a new bach – or an old one.”

It had already been converted to living accommodation when she bought the building, but renovating it is an ongoing labour of love. She’s in the process of adding another bedroom, bringing the total to four. Next up is an en suite bathroom, then a deck off the garage.

Dawn welcomes equine guests (dogs, too), with two paddocks, room to turn a horse truck and floats and the use of a barn.

“People say they feel like they can relax and unwind as soon as they walk through the door,” Dawn says. It’s not surprising: 2.5 acres, with sea views and alpacas grazing outside, in one of the North Island’s most picturesque spots.

“The fact that it was a woolshed adds to the rustic charm,” Dawn says.

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Mangawhai Woolshed