The big question hanging over new series Grand Designs New Zealand is this: how will it stack up against the beloved British original?

Following in the big gumbooted footprints of British presenter Kevin McCloud is award-winning Kiwi architect Chris Moller. He's confident fans of the original show will be happy with "our" version.

"Kevin and his whole team have set the bar extremely high," says Moller.

"On the other hand, I think the quality and standards of New Zealand architecture is second-to-none and we do some really wonderful stuff and have extraordinary landscapes."


Episodes will feature builds ranging from the beach to the mountains, with houses ranging from architecturally-designed mansions to DIY homes.

"They're all specific responses to specific sites and have a lot to do with the dreams and preferences of the people behind them - and that's what makes them so special ... you're going to get a huge diversity in what we're showing," says Moller.

The series' first episode heads way down south to The Catlins to meet Lachlan McDonald, a farmer who dreams of building a three-bedroom farmhouse he can one day fill with a family.

The deer-farming bachelor has his work cut out for him: the Catlins is one of the most remote and stormy parts of the country.

"It's a wonderful juxtaposition of something that is very elegant and beautiful but quite abstract, in relation to an environment that is very rugged and raw," says Moller of the build.

"It's pretty tough down there; they have a lot of rain and snow.

"Even just getting building materials from the normal sources is pretty difficult in the Catlins and that's a challenge in itself, let alone finding a contractor to build the building.

"[It was] put together by a top Auckland architect so that in itself is kind of special; going to both ends of the country to pull things together.

"That makes it really extraordinary."

Moller says the unique opportunities New Zealand's landscapes offer for design are part of what will provide viewers with new and fresh concepts in Grand Designs.

"As somebody who is really passionate about architecture and the way we build and the context that we're building in, I think stressing the importance of good design is really important ... and that's one of the reasons I'm so passionate about this."

Moller said he "doesn't pretend to be Kevin" and won't try to replicate McCloud's style, because as the show's promo says, "we do things a little differently down here".

When: Sunday 8.30pm
Where: TV3
What: Land of the Long White McCloud?