Orchard wedding at Little Wilderness. Styled by Boheme events. Photography by Charlotte Christian.
Good magazine travelled to Little Wilderness in Kumeu to shoot the cover of the latest issue, and discovered an off-grid slice of New Zealand paradise.
As event venues go, Little Wilderness is a little special and unique. The family-owned property has 30 acres of bush, an orchard and pretty wilderness everywhere.
Its purpose-built barn with an outdoor seating area, is perfect for weddings, shin-dings and as Good discovered, photo shoots! It’s more akin to an art gallery with oversize joinery and neutral wall spaces.
Just a 40 minute drive from Auckland, you feel a world away from the city as soon as you arrive.
The idea for an events venue on the property came when the family noticed the dwindling amount of shared green spaces in Auckland, combined with a growing need for people to get out of the city and find spaces to unwind in nature, says Little Wilderness co-owner George Vodanovich.
At the heart of Little Wilderness is the restorative work the family embarked on when they purchased the farmland 12 years ago.
The project follows the principles of permaculture where it focuses mostly on the catchment and storage of energy, integrating all systems and producing minimal waste, and most importantly using small and slow solutions.
Permaculture pioneer Rosemary Morrow describes permaculture as “a philosophy and an approach to land use which weaves together microclimate, plants, animals, soils, water and waste management and human needs into intricately connected, productive communities.” (Principles and Pathways, 2017)
“The story of Little Wilderness is just as much about ecological and business harmony as well as intergenerational transmission of knowledge,” says Vodanovich.
“We are genuinely trying to curate a space that can provide entertainment to groups without sacrificing the local environment, while hopefully inspiring them via their experiences to make positive changes themselves.”
The majority of the work at Little Wilderness is to form outdoor spaces for people to roam and experience nature through sight, tough and smell. “The Japanese have a concept called shinrin-yoku or forest bathing which sums this up,” says Vodanovich.
The business events side of Little Wilderness follows the same tenants as the restorative project. Encourage events with minimal waste, and for guests to enjoy nature in a way that’s low impact to the environment.
Powered by solar panels, fitted with large rain water tanks and Bio-Cycle sewage system have also been harnessed to only use energy that is harnessed.
The family is continuously planting trees on the property which it hopes will one day become lungs for the community; and replanting the riparian border of the stream running through the property has seen eels return.
Much of the revenue from events goes back into restorative planting on the property, which means people hosting events at Little Wilderness are also contributing to restoring the green space.
And instead of in-house catering, the property can easily accommodate mobile catering and food trucks so that events can enjoy the atmosphere of a mini festival.
A wonderful thought at this time to plan for a day when we can gather for events in the future.