Kiwi racer Brendon Hartley builds home for his family, and cars, in Taupo
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Brendon Hartley, one of New Zealand’s most successful motorsports professional of the 21st Century, has had a busy year.
Competing for the all-conquering Toyota Gazoo Racing team in the 2021 World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Number 8 Toyota TS050 Hypercar raced by Hartley won three rounds of the grueling series, an identical number of race wins to the other Number 7 car in the team, which narrowly won the 2021 WEC title by amassing a few extra points over the season.
Other highlights of Hartley’s year include a second place at the iconic 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans, the impending January arrival of a baby daughter with wife, Sarah, and the completion of a spectacular new holiday home at Acacia Bay, near Taupo.
Homebase for the Hartleys is their apartment in Monaco, which gives Brendon easy access to most of the racetracks he visits. However, it has always been their intention to eventually return to New Zealand, and buying a parcel of land near Acacia Bay back in 2018 was the first step in that transition.
“A lot of our friends were like: ‘you’ve gotta buy something in Auckland,’ so we actually started having a little look. For what you would get for the money and our budget, an Auckland property was gonna give us no pleasure and no satisfaction. So, we started thinking, ‘what about building a holiday home?’
“We started looking at Taupo. I was holidaying in Taupo as a kid, so was Sarah; we didn’t know each other then. We love mountain biking; we love the outdoors. Everything about Taupo ticked the boxes for us.
“We’ve been coming home for years. I’ve been away half my life and every year we come home, we’re sleeping in our parents’ spare room or my old bedroom that I grew up in and we’re still living out of a suitcase.
“So, I think being able to have somewhere that we know that we’ll eventually call home is a big thing.”
The property has expansive views, and Brendon and Sarah were able to make the most of them via the large windows supplied by Brendon’s sponsor, Altherm Window Systems through local manufacturer Apex Windows.
“They came on as a partner which was perfect timing when we were building our place. We were able to chat to them and figure out what kind of windows we’d want. The collaboration worked so well because we ended up with massive windows and doors across the whole front of our property. From every room of the house, you have the view out to the lake and Taupo town.”
The windows used in Brendon’s home are from Altherm's Metro Series ThermalHEART range, which is all about creating clean lines and a modern feel to the home. Having a keen eye for the sleek engineering of a car, Brendon was drawn to this stylish and contemporary look.
Altherm’s ThermalHEART technology takes the fight against winter cold a step further with an additional thermal insulator stitched into the core of their aluminium window system improving the thermal performance up to 35% better than standard double glazed windows.
The glassy frontage adds distinction to the design of the house, and the builder - Landmark Homes Taupo - made the home its entry in the 2020 Master Builders House of the Year awards for the Bay of Plenty/Central Plateau region. The house won the regional silver award.
“It showed us that they (Landmark) were proud of the job they did. It was nice to know that other people liked it, too.”
The houses of motorsport professionals are expected to have large garages, but it’ll surprise many to know the size of the car that currently resides inside the one at Acacia Bay.
“The garage currently has a 1967 Mini Cooper in there, a Cooper S, in fact,” says Brendon. “My middle name is Morris and I grew up watching videos of my Dad racing Minis, my brother holds a land speed record in a Mini so Minis run in our family and I’ve always wanted one. Hence, we have a little bright red Mini Cooper and it’s the most fun thing. Sarah takes it down into Taupo as well.
“In Monaco, we see people driving around in Ferraris and Lamborghinis and you shake your head sometimes. They’re driving around in first gear, making a whole lot of noise, where you drive around a little Mini Cooper and it puts a smile on people’s faces when they see it.”
Brendon confesses to a love of small cars, and he owns a little World Rally Championship-inspired GR Toyota Yaris back in Monaco. Owning a smaller car obviously creates more space for Brendon and Sarah to securely store their fleet of bicycles.
“In Monaco, Sarah and I do a lot of road cycling. We get up into the mountains, on quiet roads, and we’re at the foothills of the Alps - it’s incredible. When we come back to New Zealand, you’ll find both Sarah and I out on our mountain bikes in Taupo, Rotorua - all over the country.
“I just absolutely love it, so that’s my big passion outside of driving race cars quickly.”