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B & B pioneers reflect on 17-year dream lifestyle at Moonlight Bay

Hosting visitors to Raglan in their boutique accommodation on the harbour’s edge at Moonlight Bay has been a way of life for 17 years for Edi and Therese Stump – one they admit they’ll miss when they leave it all behind next month for a different lifestyle on the east coast.

Waters Edge – offering bed and breakfast in both a waterfront suite and a 120-year-old cottage sited on the same Greenslade Road property as their home – has been a wonderful experience, says Therese, and exactly what she set out to create.

Therese and Edi, who are now 68 and 70, made the move in 1997 from city life in Hamilton to their beach-house and bach in Raglan to fulfil a dream. They’d experienced the ‘zimmer frei’ mode of accommodation in Europe years before on a family visit to Swiss-born Edi’s homeland.
“I nurtured the idea of having my own homestay one day,” Therese told the Chronicle. “We loved the friendly warmth of staying in people’s homes and learning from the locals the places of interest and the customs.”

So they set about renovating the property, work which included building a garage with an attached suite. They’d already converted the neglected 100-year-old bach on site into a charming cottage, says Therese, preserving its antique coal range and landscaping the grounds.

It was a labour of love, she says, fitted in whenever they were able over the first five years of owning the property while still living and working in Hamilton.

But Therese had begun to begrudge the time she spent working in real estate – which ironically had led her to the property in the first place – as it took her away from “fulfilling my dream”.
And so Waters Edge evolved as a B & B and homestay with Therese making not sales but fresh bread, jam and marmalade for visitors who came to enjoy a touch of luxury in harbourside Raglan.

The couple have loved pampering guests from all walks of life, they say, and sharing their “paradise” with its subtropical gardens and native bush.

In the early days Raglan had only two B & Bs, recalls Therese, and they’ve always had to turn away far more people than they could accommodate. Some of those who’ve stayed over the years – and returned – have become personal friends.

Edi and Therese added chalet accommodation to the mix 13 years ago when the house next door came up for sale, but then sold it again last year in an effort to reduce the workload and focus their energies on the original business.

Not that they’ve ever really thought of Waters Edge as a business. “It’s a lifestyle … it’s never been about dollars and cents.”

A highlight of their venture came five years ago when Edi and Therese travelled to a symposium at a university in Taiwan where Therese was invited as a guest speaker on B & B operations in New Zealand. While it was “quite scary” giving a half hour powerpoint presentation, Therese says it was a “pretty special” occasion and they were treated like royalty during their five-day stay.

But now the couple are moving on, to a retirement village which Therese describes as closer to Papamoa than to Tauranga. She admits they’ve “slowed down”, and after years of putting other people first they now want time to themselves. “We believe we’re doing the right thing.”

Waters Edge changes hands at the end of February, and while they never intended to sell it as a going concern she and Edi are delighted their dream lives on and that a Raglan couple of five years want to continue running it as a bed and breakfast.

Edith Symes

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