It's an unusual hobby, but Wouter van Dijk loves nothing more than watching his tobacco plants flourish.

The 86-year-old Dutch man only took up the unconventional hobby five years ago and it turns out he's quite good at it.

He has about 40 tobacco plants, some towering up to two metres high, growing in a greenhouse at the back of his Waihi home and uses the same process he learnt from his father during World War II in Holland.

"I like to see it all grow, it's a nice looking plant too," he said.


The retired fitter turner, who emigrated to New Zealand after the war, found some seeds for sale in Katikati and decided to have a go at growing it and processing it using a tobacco machine he bought back from a European holiday in the 1980s.

Mr van Dijk doesn't consider himself a smoker after giving up 35 years ago, but admitted to still enjoying the first couple of puffs of a cigarette of his homegrown tobacco with friends.

"Oh I can smoke it but I will only have two or three puffs out of a cigarette otherwise I don't want no more. It's a nice smell, it smells like cigar and I don't get addicted to it because it has got no chemicals in it. The thing is people who have been heavy smokers, they go onto homegrown tobacco and wean off the other (commercial) tobacco."

New Zealand Customs Service confirmed up to 15 kilograms of tobacco can be grown and manufactured for personal use by anyone over the age of 18-years providing the tobacco is grown at the person's private property, is only for their use and cannot be sold or given away.