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Rural living the best choice

Tracey and Blair Leitch with their sons Braxton, 4, and Ryan, 6, in front of the large corrugated iron highland cow at their lifestyle block property in Norfolk Rd, Masterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED



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The Leitch family swapped their Wellington city lifestyle for more appealing rural living a year ago — and don’t regret it one bit.

Tracey Leitch had always wanted a lifestyle block for her two sons to grow up on, an idea her husband Blair eventually warmed to.

They now live on a 5.8-hectare block in Norfolk Rd near Masterton where they hope to one day become self-sufficient with an orchard, vegetable garden and stock.

The property, which was previously owned by a couple who bred highland cattle, is fit for the purpose to fulfil the Leitch’s family rural dream.

Feeding sheep has become a reality for Braxton, 4, and Ryan, 6, after moving with their parents to rural Masterton last year. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Feeding sheep has become a reality for Braxton, 4, and Ryan, 6, after moving with their parents to rural Masterton last year. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

They are slowly adding livestock to their land, and already have four dorper cross sheep.

The next addition will be a small herd of weaner calves.

Grazing and fattening stock to sell for extra income was motivation for the couple, she said.

Pigs, a pony, chickens and lambs next spring are on the list.

“It will be nice to cover maintenance costs and rates, and it’d be nice to be as self-sufficient as we can be,” Mrs Leitch said.

She still works in Wellington four days a week with New Zealand Blood Service, but hopes to find a job in Masterton where her husband works as operations manager for Cross Country Rentals.

“It’s an amazing place to live, it’s quite different from city living — it’s awesome,” she said.

A handful of her friends have been following suit and ditching the city life for a cheaper, rural lifestyle in Wairarapa.

“We were at the right point in ourselves when we wanted to get a bigger house for the kids.

“I think we didn’t realise how much we wanted it until we got here, and it has worked out perfectly.”

The couple came over the hill one day last year to view the property, three days later they put in an offer an offer and got it accepted that night, she said.

“The size of the house we left wouldn’t have been much cheaper than what we paid for this but it was a third the size.”

The national median price for all lifestyle properties sold in the three months to July 2017 was $580,000, according to recent REINZ figures.

Wellington and Wairarapa region recorded an increase in lifestyle property sales, more than 10, in July 2017 compared to July last year.

As newbies to the farming sector, the Leitch couple have attended a few Vet Services Wairarapa lifestyle block information evenings.

Vet Services Wairarapa vet Sara Sutherland started the information evenings after noticing an increase in lifestyle block clients who cared for their stock but didn’t have the husbandry knowledge to go with it.

“We want to find a way to help them be better at the management side of things so we don’t get those callouts for animals that are about to die,” she said.

The increase in lifestyle block owners in the region include people moving from urban areas and want to have a couple of animals, to farmers that have down sized, she said.

Sheep are the most common animals on the blocks, followed by calves and weaned cows, and a few pet goats.

The seminars, open to the public, offer advice on animal health issues and plans, electric fences and water systems.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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