At The End of The Lane — Kōtare Estate

Kōtare Estate lies at the very end of Lane Road in Havelock North. Cyprus pillars lining the driveway creak in the soft spring breeze, framing a spectacular close-up view of Te Mata Peak. Panning across past aged trees is a never-ending vista of Hawke’s Bay. Although only a stone’s throw from the heart of the village, its setting provides a blissful disconnection from the rush of life, coupling perfectly with the vision Pip and Mathias Robbie-Gödert had to share their home with others.

Kotare Estate | Sage Journal

Designed by the late Albert Garnett, the home was originally built in 1929 by the Lane family, to be gifted to Peggy Lane and Iain Simson upon their marriage. Thus the name ‘Lane Road’ – built especially for accessing the newlyweds’ estate.


Pip originally moved into the Lane Road home as a teenager when her parents, Ron and Pam Robbie, purchased the property in 1998. “The gardens had been let go, the courtyard was covered in ivy and the pool was covered in blackberry. The last thing that had been in it was a cow,” Pip recalls. A lot of work was done in the garden by her parents. They built a terraced pétanque court and replaced the old cracked tennis court with lawn and garden. Interior renovations have kept the character and originality of the house.


Following her school years, Pip spent several more living, travelling and working in Europe, and teaching in China, which eventually inspired her to head to the South Island in 2012, where she gained a teaching degree. After time spent teaching and travelling, she and Mathias are settling in Hawke’s Bay, where Pip teaches part time at the local primary school. Her return has revived the history attached to the family’s Havelock North property and brought her own story of the unique home.

During her travels, Pip kept her connection to the property. She helped plant 2,000 natives on the land back in 2013. Behind the house and at the bottom of a steep hill is a huge jungle of native trees, shrubs and flaxes which have flourished over the past seven years. “The planting project was initiated by Dad after he met a young nurseryman called Bernie on a plane. Bernie was passionate about natives.” Pip led the task of planting the surrounds of a rustic ‘cottage’, and a man-made pond and jetty (another project initiated by Pip’s father, Ron) during her university holidays, with Bernie sourcing the plants. It’s a special space that’s filled with native birdlife – the perfect spot for enjoying a flame-heated outdoor bath and the full luxury of an outhouse.





Pip and Mathias Robbie-Gödert | Kotare Estate

After several years of working and travelling elsewhere, Pip and Mathias took over the homestead late last year. The opportunity arose rather organically. The pair moved back to Hawke’s Bay while Pip’s parents were looking to move on; the perfect moment for them to move in, both for living and their livelihood.

They gave the property the name Kōtare Estate. Kōtare is the Māori name given to the sacred kingfisher, a bird native to New Zealand, with which both are particularly enamoured, labelling it their ‘lucky bird’. There are also two resident kingfishers.


In July this year, Mathias, Pip, her family and Bernie completed a new project, with 4,500 natives being planted around the hillside. They will eventually grow to border a track leading up to another significant part to the property: ‘the cave’. Almost otherworldly, huge timber doors are set into a hill and open to reveal a cavernous room with a huge macrocarpa table, fireplace and candles etched into the walls. Ron and his brother designed and built the space.

“I love the spaces around here and what they have to offer,” Pip says, listing off some of the projects they have begun since taking over. “We’ve planted gardens and grow our own produce; have brought chickens back into the chook house; and we’re planning on getting pigs for ham and making olive oil from the olive trees. We have a dream of running a self-sustainable bit of land.”



Mathias is a German-born Michelin-trained chef and graphic designer, who has worked in both crafts in Germany and New Zealand. Now settled in New Zealand for over ten years, he is ready to offer unique experiences, based on his passion for food and love of quirkiness, to Hawke’s Bay locals and visitors. The couple plan to work with guests to provide bespoke food and accommodation options. Whether it’s lunch on the petanque court, dinner in ‘the cave’, time down at the pond or a night’s rest in the homestead, they’re all about mixing it up and presenting something exciting and unique.

“It’s every chef’s dream to have their own little farm, orchard and sustainable set-up. Here, we can live day by day, appealing to our own lifestyle ambitions as well as being able to share them with others.” An energetic visionary, Mathias admits his interest in food, produce and cooking keeps his feet on the ground.


A key trait is his resourcefulness. He’s always excited to challenge the norm, illustrated by his desire to bring ‘old-world luxury’, together with modern sustainable living, plus a good measure of creativity and idiosyncrasies. In his cooking he uses traditional techniques – having recently begun smoking and curing his own ham for prosciutto, for example. He also focuses on using food grown or produced on the property and sourcing locally wherever he can.

“It’s every chef’s dream to have their own little farm, orchard and sustainable set-up. Here, we can live day by day, appealing to our own lifestyle ambitions as well as being able to share them with others.”

Curing meat

Catering Cave



“This place has soul. It appeals, as we can see it being part of our future. It’s unique and quirky, and that’s what we like.”

Wandering around, many edibles are growing: passionfruit, feijoa, tamarillos, olives, pomegranates as well as their work-in-progress vegetable garden.

Graeme Langley, the Robbie family’s beloved gardener, started working for Pip’s parents twenty years ago, and still works there today. “It all started when I did a job painting the shed, and I haven’t left since!” Ten years ago, Graeme planted multiple varieties of citrus and avocados in the lower part of the garden, which all now produce a bountiful harvest.


Alongside the citrus and avocado grove, you’ll find the once-infested pool beautifully bordered with michelias, rengarenga lilies, jasmine and star jasmine. Walking back up the stepped pathways, ficus-lined walls lead beyond gardens with rosemary borders and lonicera hedges, which often have pheasants, quail and pukeko teetering along the top.

Pip and Mathias’s happy new chickens are housed in Pip’s mum’s chook house that handyman Graeme was involved in constructing. Six beehives are tucked away in a pocket, thriving off the natives and edibles. The pair are also planning to plant 40 oak trees that are truffle certified and are hoping to see truffles produced in the coming seven to eight years.

Together they have the space to ‘live the dream’ and want to share it with others – a home steeped in history, with an ever-evolving property of natives, edibles, wildlife and pockets of mystery. “This place has soul. It appeals, as we can see it being part of our future. It’s unique and quirky, and that’s what we like.”

Te Mata Peak | Havelock North


Jasmine on pergola