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Building the Kiwi Dream

Matt Watson is living the kiwi dream

Matt Watson is known by many names – ‘the extreme fisherman’, ‘the fishing guy’, or as he more affectionally refers to himself, ‘that mad bloke’. You can’t blame him either, considering he leapt out of a helicopter to wrestle a marlin in open seas. A passionate fisherman, Matt hosts the iconic series Ultimate Fishing TV, as well as hosting and producing many other international fishing shows. Having appeared on numerous international television shows, including The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, BBC World and on Japanese television, he’s an icon in the fishing industry and across New Zealand. There isn’t much Matt touches that doesn’t turn to gold.


Matt grew up in South Auckland surrounded by family who worked in the fishing industry and he would often be found near Weymouth boat ramp with a rod in hand. In his younger years, Matt completed his trade in roofing followed by various jobs in the industry. It wasn’t long before Matt decided to follow his passion for fishing and headed down to the bank, applied for a loan and started his own fishing show. 


Twenty seasons later and it is fair to say Matt has found success, with his action-packed adventure series taking him around the world. However, his most recent TV stint, Building The Kiwi Dream, saw him return to the shores of New Zealand. The Bay of Islands, located on New Zealand’s North Island, are known for beautiful, undiscovered beaches and big-game fishing. This made it the perfect location for Matt and his wife Kaylene to build their dream home.


Initially, Matt did not want to film the series as he was looking forward to taking some time away from cameras to focus on the build. “We almost didn’t go ahead with filming, but in the end the story was just too good not to tell,” said Matt.


Ten episodes long, Living The Kiwi Dream follows Matt and Kaylene on their construction journey, from heartache and pain, to the triumph and glory of building a home. “We had so many things go wrong. Landslides, a pandemic, labour shortages, a tsunami warning – you name it, we had it. As a homeowner, it was tough to go through, but as a producer… it made for great TV,” said Matt.


“Work began on the site in January 2020, but I’d been dreaming about building a house there since I spotted the location while fishing many years ago. Protected from the winds by mountains on three sides, you have your own private beach and panoramic views of the water. I’ve always wanted to build my own home, and I’m so lucky I’ve been given the opportunity to build where I have. We are a thirty-minute drive from town, yet when you are down by the house, you wouldn’t think another soul exists in the world. It’s just you and nature.”


“We firstly had to dig 209 foundation poles into the ground and on our final pole, we struck a tree that was 10,000-year-old. We used the wood from that tree to make a unique door handle, so that every person that enters the house is reminded of the rich history of the land. The house was built as a tribute to the uniqueness of New Zealand. Here you can have pristine, golden sand beaches and our home represents the heritage of the people and the landscape.”

“The house is technically finished, although there is still plenty to be done. Currently we are working hard on the landscaping. We modelled it on the surrounding mountains and islands and have planted native plants to shape our property. We are operating as a farm with livestock, crops and even produce our own honey. We are also building a brewery for the hops we grow and have installed beer taps all around the house.”


“That’s the beauty of building your own home. I’ve been there for every design and building decision made. People are always saying ‘imagine having this, or imagine having that’. Well, I went out and built it. The man shed will store our boats and be the place to have a beer and watch the footy. It’s not finished yet, but it’s definitely my favourite part of the house.”


Being on remote land, Matt knew he would need machinery to assist with the build and access all areas of his new property, which is why he turned to Kubota for the M5-111 ROPS tractor, a T2090 ride-on mower and the KX033 excavator.


“Since I was a young lad, I’ve always wanted to own a tractor, and now I finally have land big enough to have one,” said Matt. “I’ve used my Kubota machinery for everything you can think of – whether it be towing boats, moving equipment, helping trucks when they get bogged or helping move a ridiculous amount of earth. I named my tractor Rita, which became a staple of the show. When I see people out on the street, they will always ask me how Rita is, she is truly a reliable workhorse.”


“The Kubota team were amazing at sharing the tips and tricks of looking after a tractor. I never need to worry about any issues – I just jump in, turn the key and get on with whatever work I need completing.”


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