When Kim Surman was living in Auckland but needed her two dogs looked after when she went away, she sent them to a farmstay. They loved it.
"They would come home and just be so happy," says Kim, who has had dogs all her life.
Kim and husband Lee, who owns a trucking business, relocated to Taupō four years ago, initially to town. But when they moved to a 4ha lifestyle block, it was the perfect chance to establish The Farm - Farmstay for Dogs, a business which both used their land and Kim's affinity for canines.
• The Country: Farmers, residents and wildlife alike face water shortages
• Murupara teen creates history, becomes fifth generation firefighter
• The Country; $8.00/kg milk price just 'a matter of time' - ASB's Nathan Penny
• Choppy McChopsalot Choppalopagus: Auckland's barking mad dog names
The couple searched for a country home that was away from the road, private and secure and found the perfect property on Broadlands Rd, 16km north-east of Taupō.
It had a large corrugated iron shed open at both ends which they set about converting to a dog stay area. They closed in the ends, lined it, sealed the concrete floors, installed double-glazed windows and ranchsliders, a log burner and infra-red cameras.
It can be opened up into one big space or divided into four smaller spaces and Kim has furnished it with dog beds, couches, mats, an actual bed and even a television.
The office is also in the shed, separated by a glass ranchslider so Kim can watch the dogs if she's doing paperwork. Outside are two large runs that open onto a big fenced paddock with and space to run around in, plus a climbing frame, logs, pipes, tyres, troughs and baths.
All this wasn't cheap. But it's proving worthwhile, with The Farm taking off. It's only been open six months but Kim already has 10 to 12 dogs most days and two assistants who help with drop offs and pick ups, supervision, exercising and cleaning.
As well as providing traditional accommodation where people can leave their dogs for a few days or weeks, The Farm also offers doggie daycare, an increasingly popular option with busy dog owners who love their hounds but hate leaving them at home all day alone. Kim and her staff run a van into Taupō every morning to collect dogs and back in the late afternoon, where owners pick up their pet, happy, healthy and exercised for the day.
At The Farm, there's no set routine and the dogs can play or do as little or as much as they want to but they're encouraged to join in the group activities. Kim says while the dogs mostly prefer to be outside during the day, they also like a midday rest.
"These guys come in and have a break at lunchtime and if I sit down, they sit down. If I'm in the office, they'll sit outside the office and all go to sleep."
The boarding dogs sleep inside at night and Kim has infrared cameras so she can see what's happening.
The Farm can take up to 20 dogs and Kim has the option to separate them into two packs but generally has them together as one. Barking is discouraged, especially inside, although there is sometimes some when the dogs are playing. Kim is strict about who she will accept, as one unsociable dog can cause problems for all the others.
"I meet the dogs first and I get them to come out and preferably do a day's daycare because our most important thing is that the dogs are sociable. Everybody needs to get along.
"People need to know that their dogs are safe and that's the most important thing. I've had six or seven dogs that I've had to get picked up because they're either aggressive around toys or they're just aggressive and like their own space."
The Farm is no country idyll though. Like any rural business, it's a seven day a week job. Someone is always with the dogs and on Sundays the whole place gets a thorough clean out. The grass in the paddock is mowed and dog poo clean-up is a never-ending duty.
Still, Kim has no regrets.
"No, absolutely not. It's a place like no other. Some mornings you get up with the dogs and come out here at 6.30 and the sun's coming up and it's just beautiful, it's so tranquil."