Earlier this year the former Earnscleugh homestead, on an historic pastoral station in Central Otago, was on the market. This grand eight-bedroom property with four living areas and many other fine features, which once hosted balls and garden fetes over many decades now has new owners, Marco Creemers and Ryan Sanders from Auckland.
They plan to restore the Station homestead to its original plans. Haka Tourism group founder Ryan Sanders saw its potential as a possible site for a luxury backpackers' accommodation. He had other ideas and sent it to his husband, Marco Creemers, with a note saying, “We are going to live there”.
Designed by New Zealand architect Edmund Anscombe, Earnscleugh homestead is a Category 1 Heritage Place. Anscombe was well-known for his design work in Wellington and Dunedin, with apartment buildings, the clock tower at Otago University, and the 1940 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition in the capital to his name. The homestead was heritage listed in 1997.
Marco and Ryan recently stayed in the area organizing weatherproofing of the homestead and learning all they could about the history of the property. They tracked down the book Castle on the Run, by Gay McInnes, a granddaughter of the builder of Earnscleugh, Stephen Spain, who lived there with other family members.
The homestead once had a wall built down the middle and out into the rose garden, dividing two families, with some confusion as to whether it was to separate feuding brothers, brothers-in-law, or other family members. The new owners want to learn all they can about its colourful history and how they can move forwards.
Marco says they know what is needed to be done for its restoration and they plan to work with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga staff to achieve their goals. He said their main challenge is waterproofing, then other structural issues such as electrical wiring and heating. The two kitchens, living areas and bathrooms need a lot of work and consideration of furnishings to bring it back to its glory days. Ryan says the imperfections in the property are ultimately part of its attraction.
His tour group operates nationwide and increasingly has more work on offer in Australia. “But this is where we will be spending our time unless we are travelling for work.”
- David Watt