Please take a video tour of Vara Prasada by clicking below, at links to more information
Seldom is the title 'World Class' bestowed upon a property but Vara Prasada, set 150 feet above the pristine waters of Doubtless Bay in New Zealand’s winterless north, will leave you feeling you have experienced something uniquely divine.
Leave your cares behind as you drive 1 kilometer down a tree-lined gravel road off the highway through a veritable feast of native forest, drawing you towards the crashing rolling waves of the bay below, and giving you complete solitude and calm, with no visible neighbors.
Inspired by a cultural blend of New Zealand, American and Thai culture, Vara Prasada’s American owners, Gary Rodrigue and Aaron Allbright, created for themselves an idyllic sanctuary from farmland they purchased in 2003. This is the first home ever built on this idyllic property.
Vara Prasada itself means sacred gifts in Sanskrit, and has given Gary, former vice-president of sales for IBM’s North Amercia Technology Division, and Aaron, a former University professor, a secluded paradise away from the daily stresses of life.
“This is a very spiritual house,” Gary said. “We tried to create a sanctuary of peace and harmony to fit in with the most beautiful and harmonious site we found while searching for our dream place on earth.”
Gary and Aaron fell in love with New Zealand when they first visited in 2000, and after seven subsequent visits over three years, found the perfect spot for their dream home in the country’s Far North region.
The 40 acre setting was chosen for its secluded location, offering a north-facing (sun facing for the Southern Hemisphere) position out towards the bay – with sun pouring through the large panoramic windows which stretch across the property’s entire northern side.
Total privacy is ensured – no houses can be seen from the property, with a 110 acre farm to the east and a 600 acre farm to the west, ensuring providing total peace and tranquility.
After interviewing seven architects, Gary and Aaron settled on an Auckland based architect who designed the Mudbrick Winery on Waiheke Island, to help them create Vara Prasada. They gave him a 40 page prospectus instructing him to create a home which would blend in with its environment and be designed to be ecologically sound and as aesthetically off-the-charts as the location.
The design of the 3750 square feet tone bedroom home was inspired by the pod-styled houses Gary and Aaron encountered while traveling through the Chiang Mai region of northern Thailand.
The property features a central Great Room with living area, dining area and kitchen, flanked by the master bedroom and bathroom to the west, including a master shower with views straight out to the bay. A library/TV room is situated in the eastern wing. The property also features an Italian-tiled patio and extensive kwila decking including a jacuzzi, an American barbeque and three outdoor gas heaters, and two outdoor and two indoor fireplaces.
Created to evoke a sense of calm and warmth, the property features 18 foot ceilings and large panoramic windows on all sides which bring in natural light throughout the year. This is coupled with 24 skylights.
“We created this house so every room would be on par for its visual appeal. Every part of the design was created to capture your senses, whether that be visual or spiritual,” Aaron said.
“We were always inspired by the Kiwi beach houses and the way they combine outdoor living with indoor living and we incorporated this concept into every aspect of the house. Even when taking a shower, the large glass windows transport you from indoors to outdoors.”
Flooring throughout the house is in French Beaumaniere limestone while the ceilings have been crafted out of Philippine mahogany, which tones in with the American cherry cabinetry and book cases which are used through the house. Sculptures collected by Gary and Aaron from their travels around the world adorn every room of the house, including two meditating Yogi statues from Bali which sit at the walkway leading to the front entrance.
Once construction was completed in 2004, Gary and Aaron engaged Kerikeri landscape and native forest specialist Rory Clark to help them plant 7500 native trees around the site.
“We wanted to create a feeling of anticipation, a feeling of an unfolding as you approach the house,” Gary said.
“There are gates, ponds, a native forest, which you drive through, statues from Bali and Thailand. The walkway, crafted from 100-year old recycled jarra beams, is a continuation of that, offering a sense of protection and peace.”
A road linking the property to New Zealand’s State Highway 10 had to be created, as did electricity, phone lines and broadband internet. The property includes solar power heating with electric backup. A diesel generator is also on site for power backup.
This luxury retreat is the perfect New Zealand dream for a couple who wish to truly get away from it all and experience Paradise Down Under.