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Hokianga Hobbit House

Nestled into a hillside on the banks of the Hokianga Harbour, Karee Owen’s first home wouldn’t look out of place in Lord of the Rings. With rounded walls and ceilings, the “tunnel house” in Rawene was one of a cluster of concrete character homes built by doctors who worked in the area in the 1970s.
Owen was single and pregnant with her first child when she purchased the house seven years ago. On the market for $80,000, it was all she could afford. And it was a mess. “The previous owner had abandoned it,” she says. “The house was full of ferns, and the view was obstructed by bamboo. I was lucky I got it so cheaply, it was just before the prices started to go up. And people were so put off by the state of it that they didn’t want to buy it.