Episode 24: Coastal Paradise
August 20 on TV ONE
When Joyce Wyllie applied for locum vet work in Golden Bay 31 years ago, she had no idea she would end up putting down roots in the area.
Golden Bay - over the Takaka Hill from Nelson - had always appealed to Joyce. Its beaches, natural beauty and isolation offered the kind of work environment the newly qualified vet was looking for.
Soon after arriving in 1980, she tended some sick sheep on the property that was eventually to become her home. The 1200 hectare farm at Kaihoka, just south of Farewell Spit, belongs to the Wyllie family and is run by Grant Wyllie, known locally as Jock, who is now Joyce's husband.
The farm is surrounded by spectacular scenery. Golden Bay beach is on the eastern boundary and Whanganui Inlet to the west. Kaihoka Lakes Scenic Reserve lies within the property and there is a marine reserve and a wildlife management area in easy reach of the homestead.
When Joyce first visited, a friendship developed and Joyce often spent her time off at Kaihoka.
But 17 years passed before the couple married. Joyce says the long courtship was because she had trouble working out which she loved most - the area, Grant, or both.
Grant was quite shy at the start. He says that had a lot to do with Joyce being a "fine upstanding professional" and him being a "rugby playing, beer drinking hoon".
Joyce stopped working as a vet after she and Grant married although she sometimes treats their own farm animals. These days, a lot of her time and energy goes into community activities and bringing up the couple's two children, who study through the Correspondence School.
Farming in an environmentally sensitive location brings challenges. The Tasman District Council places limitations on what the Wyllies can do with their land, including restricting subdivision. The couple say the restrictions have been frustrating, especially in hard times.
Grant and Joyce have a good relationship with the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry but say plenty of other groups also want to be involved in how they manage their land.
One of the problems, says Grant, is that the land's value now exceeds what the property can produce as a farm.
While the Wyllies are acutely aware of the precious natural environment around them, it is sometimes visitors that are the prompt for them to get out and enjoy the beaches and fishing grounds on their doorstep.
For more about the Kaihoka area: www.newzealand.com/int/article/westhaven-te-ai-tapu-inlet-marine-reserve-and-wildlife-management-reserve/
For more about Golden Bay: www.goldenbaynz.co.nz