A Story of Two Beachfront Lodges
The historical saga of Meadowbank Homestead – Awaroa tends to overshadow the stories of Torrent Bay Lodge. Despite their different characters and histories, there is a link between the two buildings that goes beyond the Wilson family.
Meadowbank Homestead - rebuilt by the Wilson family in 1994 after Lynette inherited her mother’s share of the original farm.
William and Adele Hadfield, who built the original Meadowbank Homestead* in 1884, were Lynette Wilson’s maternal great grandparents. Adele Hadfield’s grandparents, the Snows and Newths, were aboard the first British settlement fleet to Nelson in 1841 (the men) and 1842 (women and children followed).
Aboard that same settlement fleet, was James Bradley, Lynette Wilson’s paternal great, great, great grandfather. After arriving in the country on the same fleet, it was not until Lynette’s parents (Mavis Hadfield and Wilfred Bradley) married in 1933 that the family trees were joined. The hybrid fruits of that family tree are Meadowbank Homestead – Awaroa and Torrent Bay Lodge.
In her childhood, Lynette Wilson spent time at Awaroa with her grandparents, Fred and Jessie Hadfield, at their house on the Awaroa River. She would ride across the estuary on her grandfather’s horse to visit her great uncle Welby and cousins who continued to farm the Meadowbank property.
The family vacated the farm in 1949 and, after Fred Hadfield’s passing in 1976, it took almost 20 years to finalise ownership of the property. Lynette witnessed the original house being pulled down and removed during the 1980s.
In the early 1990s, Lynette inherited a small section, not including the site of the original homestead. She negotiated with her uncle, Ralph, to purchase his inheritance and the family obtained the necessary permits to build a Lodge on those two sections.
Lynette’s cousins (her great aunt, Olive Hadfield’s descendants, now living in Australia), agreed to sell their share of the inheritance, including the original homestead site. This allowed the family to rebuild Meadowbank to include it in their plans for a Lodge in the inlet.
The Wilson family "bach" at Torrent Bay was bought by Lynette in 1967 with money inherited from her father, Wilfred Bradley*. During its metamorphosis into Torrent Bay Lodge, the simple, 2-bedroom cottage has undergone many rebuilds and refurbishments with Lynette's husband John Wilson as Master Builder.
John says the last of the original cottage was removed during the 2001 rebuild. All that remains on site are a few floor boards in the kitchen and the back door with the number 14 on it. The original address of the bach is 14 Lagoon Street. The number 10 on the back gate is its modern Rapid Number.
The bach was bought because Lynette wasn’t keen to spend her holidays looking after their four young children aboard the boat John was building, the Matangi (his "floating bach"), at their home in Riwaka. For almost ten years, the family spent their holidays at Torrent Bay.
It all changed in 1976 when the boat taking paying passengers into the Park was wrecked in a storm so the Matangi was surveyed in 1977 to provide a commercial passenger service and Abel Tasman National Park Enterprises was born. John Wilson rowed passengers ashore in a dinghy where Lynette would greet visitors with a cup of tea and a showing of her artwork in a tent set up in the garden.
As the older children started showing visitors around Torrent Bay, the casual arrangement became a suitably managed service in 1982 when the family applied for, and received, the first concession for guided walks in Abel Tasman National Park.
At this time, the bach had its first upgrade and extension to allow up to 14 guests to stay overnight. Building regulations at the time did not allow the bach to have enough bedrooms and bathrooms to provide private facilities. Therefore, private sleeping quarters were created with partitions that did not cover from floor to ceiling. This was when earplugs were introduced as standard issue for all guests.
The 2001 renovation brought rooms up to modern standards with ensuite bathrooms. Extensive upgrade of the waste water system with the latest bio-technology from Germany was completed in 2013 to ensure continued low environmental impact of the Lodge's modern facilities.
*Both Torrent Bay Lodge and Meadowbank Homestead - Awaroa are located within small communities of historic freehold title land located within the boundaries of Abel Tasman National Park