Second open family cabin for rent at the start of the Pouakai track

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Shaan and Jess Caskey opened Mangorei Heights on Airbnb, and it went so well they built a second cabin.

VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff

Shaan and Jess Caskey opened Mangorei Heights on Airbnb, and it went so well they built a second cabin.

It’s at the start of one of New Zealand’s most popular hiking trails, but it’s not just the walkers who are behind the success of one Taranaki family’s holiday rental business .

Shaan and Jessica Caskey opened Mangorei Heights, a small house-style cabin, in 2020 after tourists taking photos blocked their driveway, which offers views of both the ocean and Taranaki Maunga, on the way to the Pouakai Crossing promenade.

Since opening, they’ve had a mix of visitors booking to stay, but most often come from Palmerston North, Waikato and even Taranaki.

“We’ve had virtually no free nights since opening,” Shaan said.

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The first cabin opened in 2020 (file photo).

SIMON O’CONNOR / Stuff

The first cabin opened in 2020 (file photo).

“It’s been crazy in terms of booking and it’s also happened without the borders opening.”

Constant bookings have seen them build another cabin on the property.

They had council consent for three cabins from the start, but started with one to test the viability of the idea.

The new cabin was built in Ngaruawahia and raised on the property. It’s larger than the original and seats six, so they can accommodate larger groups and families.

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The new cabin also includes a wet room so they can work with charities such as Mellowpuff Trust and Taranaki Hospice to meet the needs of those with disabilities or reduced mobility.

“We want to be able to give people an escape from their everyday lives, people going through things they shouldn’t have to go through.”

The Airbnb adventure has also been a healing process for the family.

The second cabin is larger to accommodate larger groups.

VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff

The second cabin is larger to accommodate larger groups.

The couple, who have 4-year-old daughter Willow at home, decided to build the cabin to focus on something as they mourned their son Hugo, who died in 2017 after being born early at 24 weeks.

It also provided another source of work for Shaan, who struggled to sit in an office all day as he suffered from a traumatic brain injury.

The cabins gave the family freedom as Shaan had to leave work due to a head injury.

VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff

The cabins gave the family freedom as Shaan had to leave work due to a head injury.

Caskey’s TBI came from several sports concussions, the first and most serious of which occurred when he was in fourth form and was hit in the temple with a hockey stick.

Before quitting full-time work, he found himself having to sleep through the weekend to prepare for the next work week.

Having another cabin to look after gave them even more freedom.

“It gave us a life.

“It means I’m home and can do what needs to be done and sleep when I need to.”

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