They don't wear capes or have secret identities but these Aucklanders are true heroes in our books. Read their stories and think about how you too can become a local water-saving hero.


Mt Eden

Brent

Avid gardener Brent has had to get creative with water this year to keep his garden lush without relying on the hose.

“We keep a flexi-bucket in the kitchen sink which collects all the water from rinsing dishes or washing veggies. When it fills up we take it out to the garden to water the ferns and some of the other plants.”

He and his wife Nina also capture water from the shower in a bucket while it heats up, and use that on the garden too.

The Mt Eden couple spend a lot of time in their terraced garden, and are now planning ahead for what could be another dry summer.

“We’re considering installing a raintank for outdoor use because of the possibility of water restrictions continuing through summer,” Brent says.

“I’m also going to put plenty of mulch around our ferns because it helps to retain moisture and means you don’t need to water them so often.

“The drought has made us think about what we plant because plants can be quite expensive and you want to be able to keep them alive.  We’re planning to transplant a bunch of clivias which are quite drought-tolerant.”

Brent has also been taking short showers, taking care to keep it at the low-pressure setting.

“We’ve been skipping showers in the weekend and taking a dip in the spa pool instead – it only needs a top-up of a couple of buckets of water every so often, and the water only needs to be changed twice a year – so that saves a considerable amount of water – about 160 litres a week.”

Brent’s other water-wise gardening tips are to water in the evenings when it’s cooler, to prevent evaporation, and to consider using water retention crystals in your pot plants. They absorb water and then gradually release the water to the plants, which helps plants survive with less frequent watering.  

  1. My number one tip is to wash your veges in a bowl so that the dirty water can be used to water plants.  

Mt Eden

Brent

Avid gardener Brent has had to get creative with water this year to keep his garden lush without relying on the hose.

“We keep a flexi-bucket in the kitchen sink which collects all the water from rinsing dishes or washing veggies. When it fills up we take it out to the garden to water the ferns and some of the other plants.”

He and his wife Nina also capture water from the shower in a bucket while it heats up, and use that on the garden too.

The Mt Eden couple spend a lot of time in their terraced garden, and are now planning ahead for what could be another dry summer.

“We’re considering installing a raintank for outdoor use because of the possibility of water restrictions continuing through summer,” Brent says.

“I’m also going to put plenty of mulch around our ferns because it helps to retain moisture and means you don’t need to water them so often.

“The drought has made us think about what we plant because plants can be quite expensive and you want to be able to keep them alive.  We’re planning to transplant a bunch of clivias which are quite drought-tolerant.”

Brent has also been taking short showers, taking care to keep it at the low-pressure setting.

“We’ve been skipping showers in the weekend and taking a dip in the spa pool instead – it only needs a top-up of a couple of buckets of water every so often, and the water only needs to be changed twice a year – so that saves a considerable amount of water – about 160 litres a week.”

Brent’s other water-wise gardening tips are to water in the evenings when it’s cooler, to prevent evaporation, and to consider using water retention crystals in your pot plants. They absorb water and then gradually release the water to the plants, which helps plants survive with less frequent watering.  

My number one tip is to wash your veges in a bowl so that the dirty water can be used to water plants.  

Point Chevalier

Jenny

Teaching her children to do their own laundry has dramatically reduced Jenny’s household water use.

“Instead of throwing everything into the clothes basket to be washed, they have worked out to put things like jeans and sweatshirts back in their drawers if they aren’t dirty. We have reduced their washing from three loads per week to one.”

Jenny says her three children, aged between 8 and 13 years old, are much more careful about what they wash now that they are responsible for cleaning, drying and putting away their own clothes.

“They do all their laundry on the same day and it’s all in the same load. We also have a water-efficient washing machine that saves 100 litres of water per wash.”

She says saving water is about being mindful.

“We have to rinse things before they go in the dishwasher, but we do it all in the same water in a bowl in the sink.”

The family also has a rainwater tank to collect water for the garden.

  1. My number one tip is to only wash clothes when they're dirty.

Point Chevalier

Jenny

Teaching her children to do their own laundry has dramatically reduced Jenny’s household water use.

“Instead of throwing everything into the clothes basket to be washed, they have worked out to put things like jeans and sweatshirts back in their drawers if they aren’t dirty. We have reduced their washing from three loads per week to one.”

Jenny says her three children, aged between 8 and 13 years old, are much more careful about what they wash now that they are responsible for cleaning, drying and putting away their own clothes.

“They do all their laundry on the same day and it’s all in the same load. We also have a water-efficient washing machine that saves 100 litres of water per wash.”

She says saving water is about being mindful.

“We have to rinse things before they go in the dishwasher, but we do it all in the same water in a bowl in the sink.”

The family also has a rainwater tank to collect water for the garden.

My number one tip is to only wash clothes when they're dirty.

Papakura

Vaibhav

When it comes to saving and reusing water, Vaibhav goes the extra mile.

“When I know it’s going to rain I leave the car outside and then when it stops, I wipe it down to clean it,” he says.

“We have a rainwater tank that collects water from the garage roof, and we use it to water the garden.”

Water used to wash fruit and vegetables is also retained and then used to top up the watering cans.

Vaibhav’s household appliances are all water-efficient. Water collected in the condenser dryer is reused for watering plants or flushing toilets. The same is done with water collected in the shower as it heats up.

Vaibhav also takes care not to create unnecessary laundry.

“I use a shirt twice and trousers four times, which reduces the amount of washing we do.”

Vaibhav took up the opportunity for a free in-home water audit from EcoMatters Environment Trust last year. The trust’s sustainability advisor installed flow reducers on the showerhead and in the taps, and gave advice on how to use their appliances at their most efficient settings.

“Our bills average about $30 a month, which is pretty good for a two-person household,” Vaibhav says.

His water-saving ethos stems from a childhood in India, where water use was restricted every day.

“Back in India we used to get water delivered to our property for just one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. We would fill up our tank with it and have to make it last for the whole day,” he says.

“We’ve always known water is precious. We are really lucky here to have access to water 24 hours a day. Sometimes, when we’ve always had something, we can take it for granted.”

  1. My number one tip is to get a rain tank for the garden.

Papakura

Vaibhav

When it comes to saving and reusing water, Vaibhav goes the extra mile.

“When I know it’s going to rain I leave the car outside and then when it stops, I wipe it down to clean it,” he says.

“We have a rainwater tank that collects water from the garage roof, and we use it to water the garden.”

Water used to wash fruit and vegetables is also retained and then used to top up the watering cans.

Vaibhav’s household appliances are all water-efficient. Water collected in the condenser dryer is reused for watering plants or flushing toilets. The same is done with water collected in the shower as it heats up.

Vaibhav also takes care not to create unnecessary laundry.

“I use a shirt twice and trousers four times, which reduces the amount of washing we do.”

Vaibhav took up the opportunity for a free in-home water audit from EcoMatters Environment Trust last year. The trust’s sustainability advisor installed flow reducers on the showerhead and in the taps, and gave advice on how to use their appliances at their most efficient settings.

“Our bills average about $30 a month, which is pretty good for a two-person household,” Vaibhav says.

His water-saving ethos stems from a childhood in India, where water use was restricted every day.

“Back in India we used to get water delivered to our property for just one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. We would fill up our tank with it and have to make it last for the whole day,” he says.

“We’ve always known water is precious. We are really lucky here to have access to water 24 hours a day. Sometimes, when we’ve always had something, we can take it for granted.”

My number one tip is to get a rain tank for the garden.

Remuera

Sophie

Baking wedding cakes creates a lot of dishes, as Sophie knows well.

The avid baker often has to hand-wash items that can’t go in the dishwasher and she uses it as an opportunity to save water.

“I fill the sink to wash them and I avoid rinsing them under a running tap,” says Sophie.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s a little bit of soapy water left on them.”

Her water-saving doesn’t stop at the kitchen – she also catches her shower water in a bucket while it’s warming up and uses it to water the garden.

Inside plants don’t go thirsty either, thanks to the water collected by Sophie’s dehumidifier.

“Using the dehumidifier water is an easy saving to make. When I’m washing my hair, I turn off the shower to lather it. We also have a water-efficient washing machine.”

She says saving water is easy once you’re in the mindset.

“Short showers are a habit. It’s only a small sacrifice.”

  1. My number one tip is to fill the sink when washing your dishes, rather than leaving the tap to run.

Remuera

Sophie

Baking wedding cakes creates a lot of dishes, as Sophie knows well.

The avid baker often has to hand-wash items that can’t go in the dishwasher and she uses it as an opportunity to save water.

“I fill the sink to wash them and I avoid rinsing them under a running tap,” says Sophie.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s a little bit of soapy water left on them.”

Her water-saving doesn’t stop at the kitchen – she also catches her shower water in a bucket while it’s warming up and uses it to water the garden.

Inside plants don’t go thirsty either, thanks to the water collected by Sophie’s dehumidifier.

“Using the dehumidifier water is an easy saving to make. When I’m washing my hair, I turn off the shower to lather it. We also have a water-efficient washing machine.”

She says saving water is easy once you’re in the mindset.

“Short showers are a habit. It’s only a small sacrifice.”

My number one tip is to fill the sink when washing your dishes, rather than leaving the tap to run.

Newmarket

Terry

Keeping his car clean during the drought is a challenge, but Terry has it sorted.

“I collect my shower water in a bucket while I’m waiting for it to heat up and I use that to keep my car clean.”

Once the shower warms up, Terry makes sure he’s only in it for five minutes.

“During Covid-19 lockdown, I kept my showers even shorter because I was staying at home.”

His washing machine has a quick wash option that only takes 15 minutes and he uses that setting to save water.

“I only use the quick wash now. And I wash my dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, because I don’t use a lot of dishes and it’s more water-efficient.”

Living in an apartment means he doesn’t have a garden to look after, but his two house-plants benefit from his water efficiency.

“When I’ve boiled water to make a hot drink, I use the last bit in the jug to water the plants once it’s cooled down.”

  1. My number one tip is to use a bucket to catch the water when I shower, and use it to wash my car.

Newmarket

Terry

Keeping his car clean during the drought is a challenge, but Terry has it sorted.

“I collect my shower water in a bucket while I’m waiting for it to heat up and I use that to keep my car clean.”

Once the shower warms up, Terry makes sure he’s only in it for five minutes.

“During Covid-19 lockdown, I kept my showers even shorter because I was staying at home.”

His washing machine has a quick wash option that only takes 15 minutes and he uses that setting to save water.

“I only use the quick wash now. And I wash my dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, because I don’t use a lot of dishes and it’s more water-efficient.”

Living in an apartment means he doesn’t have a garden to look after, but his two house-plants benefit from his water efficiency.

“When I’ve boiled water to make a hot drink, I use the last bit in the jug to water the plants once it’s cooled down.”

My number one tip is to use a bucket to catch the water when I shower, and use it to wash my car.

Takanini

Ange

Ange has her mum to thank for her water-saving habits and is now passing them on to her own family.

“Mum was really conscious about conserving water. She was a single parent so it was all about keeping the bills down. She was a real no-waste lady.

“She used to use a kitchen timer in the bathroom that would beep when we had to get out of the shower.”

Being water-wise is second nature to Ange, and the Takanini stepmum-of-two is making sure her kids also understand the importance of saving water.

“We teach the kids about the drought, what it means and what it could mean if we still don’t get enough rain.

“We’ve been using a four-minute shower timer which they find super fun. It’s a bit of a challenge for them.

“I’ve also taught them to turn off the taps when they’re brushing their teeth – that’s a water-saving tip they can really own. They now have their own cups in the bathroom which they use for rinsing.”

The family is also working hard to reduce the amount of laundry they do each week.

“We’re making sure we only wash clothes when they really need it,” Ange says. “Things like jumpers and jeans get worn several times before they go in the wash.

“We’ve managed to cut back on the number of loads of washing we do each week, which can be pretty hard with kids!”

Seven-year-old Mackenzie is now a vocal advocate for saving water.

“She did a piece of art at school that was part of a focus on the environment – Mackenzie had a section in hers about how to save water, which made me really proud!”

  1. My number one tip is to be mindful of your water use in the bathroom - especially in the shower.

Takanini

Ange

Ange has her mum to thank for her water-saving habits and is now passing them on to her own family.

“Mum was really conscious about conserving water. She was a single parent so it was all about keeping the bills down. She was a real no-waste lady.

“She used to use a kitchen timer in the bathroom that would beep when we had to get out of the shower.”

Being water-wise is second nature to Ange, and the Takanini stepmum-of-two is making sure her kids also understand the importance of saving water.

“We teach the kids about the drought, what it means and what it could mean if we still don’t get enough rain.

“We’ve been using a four-minute shower timer which they find super fun. It’s a bit of a challenge for them.

“I’ve also taught them to turn off the taps when they’re brushing their teeth – that’s a water-saving tip they can really own. They now have their own cups in the bathroom which they use for rinsing.”

The family is also working hard to reduce the amount of laundry they do each week.

“We’re making sure we only wash clothes when they really need it,” Ange says. “Things like jumpers and jeans get worn several times before they go in the wash.

“We’ve managed to cut back on the number of loads of washing we do each week, which can be pretty hard with kids!”

Seven-year-old Mackenzie is now a vocal advocate for saving water.

“She did a piece of art at school that was part of a focus on the environment – Mackenzie had a section in hers about how to save water, which made me really proud!”

My number one tip is to be mindful of your water use in the bathroom - especially in the shower.

Albany

James

If James has a tap running, his three-year-old twins know what to do.

“They’ll say, ‘Daddy, save water’,” says James. “I talk to them about saving water and keeping our showers quick and they get it.”

Water in his house is heated by gas and takes a little while to warm up, so the family uses buckets to catch the cold water in the shower.

The water is used to flush the toilet and water plants.

“That’s probably our biggest water-saver,” says James. “We also have a rainwater tank that is plumbed into the downstairs bathroom and a sink in the garage, so we can use that water to clean things in the garage.”

The twins have enough clothes that the family doesn’t have to do laundry every week.

“We have a smaller washing machine for the kids’ laundry so we don’t have to use the big machine. It has a quick cycle so it doesn’t use much water.”

Washing cars is also off the menu, but James says that a bit of spot cleaning with collected water does the job.

  1. My number one tip is to catch the cold water in the shower and use it to water plants.

Albany

James

If James has a tap running, his three-year-old twins know what to do.

“They’ll say, ‘Daddy, save water’,” says James. “I talk to them about saving water and keeping our showers quick and they get it.”

Water in his house is heated by gas and takes a little while to warm up, so the family uses buckets to catch the cold water in the shower.

The water is used to flush the toilet and water plants.

“That’s probably our biggest water-saver,” says James. “We also have a rainwater tank that is plumbed into the downstairs bathroom and a sink in the garage, so we can use that water to clean things in the garage.”

The twins have enough clothes that the family doesn’t have to do laundry every week.

“We have a smaller washing machine for the kids’ laundry so we don’t have to use the big machine. It has a quick cycle so it doesn’t use much water.”

Washing cars is also off the menu, but James says that a bit of spot cleaning with collected water does the job.

My number one tip is to catch the cold water in the shower and use it to water plants.

Pakuranga

Isobelle

Having a big family inspires Isobelle to get creative with water-saving.

A leaking gutter on the garage is the perfect place to collect rain water in baby bathtubs, which can then be used for cleaning cars and watering plants.

“We also use it for water play for our little ones,” she says.

“I never clean the car on a dry day. I wipe the car down in the rain and don’t use hoses or taps.”

Her household of seven people – which includes her four children, aged from one to nine – are strict about taking short showers.

“We use a four-minute shower timer and everyone turns off the shower to lather themselves up and then turns it back on to rinse off. Our water bill is just over $70 a month, which is pretty good.”

They recently bought a water and energy-efficient washing machine which also helps to keep their water use low.

  1. My number one tip is to keep your shower short.

Pakuranga

Isobelle

Having a big family inspires Isobelle to get creative with water-saving.

A leaking gutter on the garage is the perfect place to collect rain water in baby bathtubs, which can then be used for cleaning cars and watering plants.

“We also use it for water play for our little ones,” she says.

“I never clean the car on a dry day. I wipe the car down in the rain and don’t use hoses or taps.”

Her household of seven people – which includes her four children, aged from one to nine – are strict about taking short showers.

“We use a four-minute shower timer and everyone turns off the shower to lather themselves up and then turns it back on to rinse off. Our water bill is just over $70 a month, which is pretty good.”

They recently bought a water and energy-efficient washing machine which also helps to keep their water use low.

My number one tip is to keep your shower short.

Avondale

Melissa

Childhood summers spent climbing onto the rain tank to check the water levels has left Melissa with a lifelong appreciation of the value of water.

“I just had the typical rural New Zealand upbringing,” she says. “We grew up on tank water and I guess old habits die hard.

“In summer Mum would hold the ladder and I’d get up on the tank and check the levels about every three days, so it ends up being something you’re just constantly conscious of.”

Melissa now lives in Avondale, and despite no longer relying on a rain tank, she still makes every drop count.

“Probably the biggest way I save water is by having super quick showers – even four minutes seems like a lot to me, even if I’m washing my hair.”

Melissa also makes sure to only use the washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full.

“I don’t have any particularly amazing tricks – it’s more a lifelong mentality that water is precious and should never be wasted.”

  1. My number one tip is to value water - it's precious!

Avondale

Melissa

Childhood summers spent climbing onto the rain tank to check the water levels has left Melissa with a lifelong appreciation of the value of water.

“I just had the typical rural New Zealand upbringing,” she says. “We grew up on tank water and I guess old habits die hard.

“In summer Mum would hold the ladder and I’d get up on the tank and check the levels about every three days, so it ends up being something you’re just constantly conscious of.”

Melissa now lives in Avondale, and despite no longer relying on a rain tank, she still makes every drop count.

“Probably the biggest way I save water is by having super quick showers – even four minutes seems like a lot to me, even if I’m washing my hair.”

Melissa also makes sure to only use the washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full.

“I don’t have any particularly amazing tricks – it’s more a lifelong mentality that water is precious and should never be wasted.”

My number one tip is to value water - it's precious!