A former Wellington couple who escaped the city with their three young children to grow lettuce in Manakau want to keep it a secret.

Tony and Lisa Dale-Low were both working and living in Wellington a few years ago when they made a decision to sell up, buy a bus and tour New Zealand with their young children Francesca, Charlie and Zoe for a year.

With the adventure over, they decided it was time to park the bus up and after seeing most of the country they picked Manakau as the place to put down roots more than a year ago.

Mr Dale-Low said the Manakau climate was brilliant for growing and the lifestyle was idyllic.


"But we should maybe keep that a secret," he said.

Mrs Dale-Low said they purchased Waikawa Fresh as a going concern in July last year, growing lettuce and herbs for the local environment. They both had green thumbs, but it was a leap of faith.

"We knew we didn't want to go back to our city jobs, but it took us a while to decide what to do next, and where," she said.

"In the end, a lifestyle business where we could work together, live on site, have flexibility with the kids and enjoy being outside looked like a great idea."

"Manakau is a beautiful part of the country with a fantastic community and we haven't looked back.

They still live in the bus, but have laid the foundations for a new house not too far from the many greenhouses that grow lettuce that they raise from seed themselves.

"We grow lettuce and herbs for local and regional customers. Our major product line is fancy lettuce which is picked and packed fresh to order six days a week and trucked into Wellington for the supermarket and food service markets," she said.

All the produced is grown hydroponically. Water is mixed with nutrients and circulated non-stop through hydroponic channels.


"The learning curve has been steep and we've been fortunate to be supported by a team of staff including two who have over two decades of experience on this site between them."

Waikawa Fresh has now signed up to the Horowhenua Taste Trail, an annual event in Horowhenua that takes ticket holders behind the scenes and gives them a chance to sample local produce and see how it is made.

"We're excited to be involved in the Taste Trail. There's a great team organising and running the event and we've been really impressed with our contact so far," she said.

The Taste Trail will be held on November 23.