Autumn River is legally identified as PT 13958 (actually "PT rural section 13958 18124 lot 2 DP 55679 blocks VI X Mairaki SD" and comprises 14.133 hectares (about 35 acres) of Pahau-Darnley silt loam.
When purchased in late 2003, the land was bare except for a single row of dense shelter about 1/3 of the way back from the road, providing relief from the strong nor'easterly wind.
We went through many iterations of plans before finalising the current configuration. Variations included placing the entryway in the centre of the road frontage and at the north-west corner, and various block sizes and arrangements. The entryway decision was made much easier by the District Council requiring us to have some 200m clear sight down the road in both directions, which we cannot actually meet but we are closest to compliance at the northwest corner.
Block sizes were originally planned as 70m x 70m, which we had read was optimal for walnuts, providing the best shelter, and which also fitted in very nicely across the 280m width of the property and to the existing shelter belt 140m from the main NW-SE boundary line. Our consultant soon suggested that we change this to 70m x 90m, which he didn't think would adversely affect the trees but which would allow for some efficiencies in maintenance and shelter establishment. Each of the 21 blocks (actually, 22 but one is designated for the house) is therefore 0.63 hectares, which is about 1.5 acres.
We originally thought of having an area of native bush at the NE corner, or perhaps a duck pond, rather than an additional triangular block of hazels. Time has not yet forced us to any firm conclusion, and who knows - we may end up with one or both yet.
We were going to work the land up in sections of four orchard blocks at a time - parcels of around 5 acres. At the same time as the 70/70 dimensions changed to 70/90, this also changed. On the advice of our consultant, we agreed to put shelter belts throughout all 35 acres, and seed about half of the land area with new grass... Aaargh.