We moved from Auckland to an orchard in Marlborough and haven't looked back!

Faced with cramped spaces and long commutes, this family chose to leave Auckland for a fig and feijoa orchard in Marlborough.

By Sharon Stephenson
Emily Hope's CV runs to four pages and includes jobs such as nutritionist, university tutor, migrant worker and English teacher (during her time in Italy).
In 2016, Emily added orchardist to that list. That's when her mother suffered a brain aneurysm and stroke, and the 35-year-old stepped in to help manage her parents' two-hectare Marlborough fig and feijoa orchard. Fortunately, Emily and her builder husband Jonny, 37, were on hand to help, having recently moved back to the region after six years in Auckland.
"It was always the plan to move home," says Emily. "We longed for a slower pace of life, for the Marlborough Sounds and to live off the land."
They also wanted to be able to start a family and to buy their own house, something they'd never have been able to afford in Auckland. "We knew it would be the perfect place to raise outdoor-loving children," says the mother of Isabella, three, and nine-month-old Louie.
It also allowed Emily to start her own nutrition practice and for Jonny to slot into her father's plumbing/roofing business.
Since her mother's illness, Emily has juggled her practice with managing the orchard's sales and marketing arm. "It's definitely busy taking care of two businesses and two young children, but it's an absolute privilege to be able to build the rural life we've always dreamed about."
The couple, who were both born in Marlborough and met at high school, have always had a soft spot for rural New Zealand. "In my experience, there's more of a community spirit in small country towns. Everyone is happy to help each other out, which isn't always the case in cities."
Although their initial plan was to rent a cottage on the family estate for six months while looking for a house to buy, six years later they're still there.
"Loving the spot where I grew up and having my children do the same is very special to me. I also like that they're growing up so close to their grandparents and that we're able to support my parents. Instead of buying a house for us, we bought a rental property which we could never have done in Auckland."
The lack of traffic is also a bonus – "We can be home in 15 minutes, which means we have more time to spend with the kids" – and the fact that Jonny can indulge his passion for hunting and fishing most weekends. The only downside is the cost of overseas travel.
"It's so much more expensive because we have to fly to a main centre first. But all I have to do is look out the window at the vineyards and mountains, and I know we made the right decision. We've never, ever wanted to move back to the city."

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