About Us

Kowhai Glen has a fascinating heritage.

Kowhai Glen's site mapWelcome to Kowhai Glen, aptly named being a small hidden valley dotted with mature Kowhai, originally established by John Morrison, 1880-1959.

John's father, Edward Morrison established Red Bluff orchards and nurseries in Hepburn Creek Road during the 1800s.

The Villa was originally built for John when he married Alice in 1904, on Hepburn Creek Road, and then in 1919 the Hepburn Creek nursery was closed and John took over the development of the Duck Creek property (Glen Kowhai).
John relocated the villa in the summer of 1920-21, when it was cut into sections enabling it to be transported around the river by Bullock and wagon, as it was erected it was also enlarged. The villa is built entirely of Kauri, walls doors and floor, further additions in 1929 with 2 extra rooms built onto the veranda for the nursery workers, and further additions during the seventies, now kitchen, toilet and shower.

The main form of transport back then was by sea, with all of the farms produce shipped by scow from Duck Creek, mainly to Auckland. The original farm was approx. 120 acres with 55 in apple orchard, and then mainly vegetable crops were grown through the 1970's. The farm was slowly carved up into smaller allotments from this period on, now 2 ha in area. 

The Cottage was originally built to house the Morrison's first car a Desoto in 1929, later being upgraded and now serves as a Bed & Breakfast Retreat (approx. 50m2in area). 

The cottage is built from eco-friendly products with no treated materials other than its footings. The bench tops are Kauri, coming from the Barge Boards off the old New Market Railway Station demolished in the 1980s. 

The Cottage effluent is serviced by a Vermicomposter for solids and a Horizontal wetland for the mixed grey water, finally to be dispersed into the soils to complete the transpiration cycle.

There are four main sheds on the property, the first being the car shed next to the house. The Engineering shed (approx. 105m2) located at the drive entrance, this shed has three-phase power and houses the compressor which is used to Air-Lift the properties water into the holding tanks (approx. 7000gals) behind the cottage.

The bore is located adjacent to the engineering shed, drilled 160mtrs in depth with a 70mtr lining and casing, through 150mtrs of sand-stone, as you can see and taste a very high quality of water is obtained, handled with respect being non-centrifuged, oxidized and kept cool and from the light of day until leaving the tap.

The property encompasses 5 acres, one hectare on each side of Duck Creek Road, boarded by Duck Creek itself on the west boundary running most of the length of Duck Creek Road. At the very north end of this side is the old pump shed, still in working operation drawing from the old bore in the first paddock. 

Crossing the stream is achievable, aside the big Kauri in this paddock (if the river is not too high). The river has never been known to flood its banks on the property, with a combined fall of >4mtrs over the property with five sets of waterfalls along its length. The reserve of bush on the opposite side of the stream was bought by John in 1926 to preserve it from being milled, to which we are all most appreciative and grateful; also forming the bush tracks in 1931 which are still in service. As a result, Duck Creek is now considered one of, if not the most significant tributary into the Mahurangi, beautifully adorned with virgin forest some of which is many hundreds of years old running the entire length of the property’s stream banks. 
Deemed as a SNA the ARC has been encouraging the local farmers to plant and fence the many smaller tributaries running into it. The catchment entering Duck Creek borders Sharp Road to the north, following the spine along Lauries Rd to the east and to the west of Hamilton Rd intersection. Being of a reasonably sized catchment the river runs with lots of energy during large rain events and is very spectacular.

At the south end of this paddock where the stream is closest to the road, is one of the swimming holes, used regularly it is close to 5mtrs deep with a pebbly bottom, making it ideal for the swing and picnic area.

Walking along to the second paddock, this was once the tennis court formed in 1928, now long over grown. At the north end are three very large Rhododendron trees, (see photo) these were planted by John and Alice in 1929, signifying their Silver Wedding Anniversary. 

Good drinking water is gravity feed to most of the property including the second shed, originally the implement shed it was erected in 1926 we now call this shed, The Lodge (approx. 125m2). This is a very special area, energy flows from where the two streams meet (Courage Creek & Duck Creek) at the south end of this paddock, with another water fall, adjacent to an Ancient Kauri Tree, having a girth >5.0mtrs. 

The stream is home to a large array of native fish, best viewed on a cool night. Also at night see the banks in splendor with a showing similar to that of the galaxy sparkling with glow-worms.
Named the Lodge, as this area is currently used for Sweat Lodge gatherings and considered a very sacred space, it is also a great location for any social occasion.

You may note the swing bridge over Courage Creek, please take care crossing and one at a time. This leads to the old packing shed (approx. 203m2) also built around 1926 and enlarged 20' x 20' in 1939, it has had several boats built in it over the years, now mainly used for storage; all these sheds have power and concrete floors.

The far southern boundary of the property is behind this shed, in the south west corner is a track sidling around to another stream crossing, this one being a little more accessible in a moderate flow, with the path winding around the spine, meeting a series of tracks within the reserve.
The historical data was relayed via Alley Hamilton, daughter of John and Alice Morrison, born in this house 1926-2005.

Compiled by Dave Kay.