It's stifling hot, you're hanging out for an ice cold beer and a slightly less icy swim. Why would anyone be thinking about firewood?
Well, actually, now is the time to do just that, according to Carlos Ter Huurne, owner of Ignition Firewood, a Drury-based firewood supplier.
“So many people leave purchasing their firewood until winter has already started. Then as soon as the night time temperature drops below five degrees we get a flurry of phone calls from people all wanting firewood immediately – and of course, they end up having to wait as we can't deliver everywhere at once.”
Carlos and his team have to be ready for the winter demand.
“It's all about planning. The firewood season is short and sharp and we have to have our ducks in a row.”
From February to July the Ignition Firewood team is flat out, initially cutting up and storing wood, then delivering it. From their depot in Drury they make deliveries all over Auckland, from Piha to Port Waikato and pretty well all points in between. It's big business, and Carlos doubles his workforce in the season to cope with demand.
“We supply a hell of a lot of firewood,” he says. “We're one of the biggest firewood businesses in Auckland, and certainly the biggest in south Auckland.”
That's pretty impressive for a business that's only five years old, starting with cutting up a few trees on his parents' property in Clevedon to finance Carlos' studies at Auckland University. By the time he'd finished his degree in marketing and innovation the part time job had taken over and turned into a business.
“I did apply for a job with ASB, but didn't get it – which is just as well really, I don't think working in a bank would have been my thing.”
It may not be what he envisaged when he began his degree, but he's a lumberjack, and he's okay. His own boss in his early 20s, Carlos has turned his chainsaw skills into a thriving business. He's been able to invest in new equipment to process the wood, including a newly arrived kindling machine imported from England. And at Ignition Firewood they go to great lengths to ensure their product is dry and ready to burn.
“We're the only firewood company in Auckland that kiln dries the wood. It's heated to 110 degrees and held for 24 hours. We have shedding to hold 4500 cubic metres of wood out of the rain.”
With widespread concern about environmental issues and heavy promotion of heat pumps, a lot of people mistakenly think firewood is going out of fashion, says Carlos, but the growth of his business belies that. Who can resist the crackle of a roaring fire on a cold winter's night? Apparently, not even some heat pump owners.
“We deliver wood to people who already have a heat pump. A wood burner is an added source of warmth when the weather gets really cold, and if you're relying on electricity when there's a power cut you're really in trouble.”
Modern clean burning wood burners produce minimal emissions, and Carlos points out that using firewood is actually a form of recycling. Ignition Firewood has a symbiotic relatonship with developers.
“We use logs largely derived from land clearances. They're no use to the developers and would otherwise have to be burned on site. We turn them into useful fuel to enable people to have warm, dry homes in winter.
“Some of the logs we get are really hard to process, old man pine or gnarly macrocarpa full of knots. Some logs can be up to two metres in diameter so they require a bit of ingenuity to deal with.”
Ignition Firewood has a range of different woods available year round, but the most common wood sold is the hotmix firewood – which can cause a bit of confusion, according to Carlos.
“Some people think it refers to a form of tar seal, which shares the same name. But our hotmix is a combination of hard, slow burning wood such as gum and soft fast burning wood such as pine. It may also contain oak, macrocarpa, poplar, tea tree and black wattle. It is popular as it provides both fast starting and long burning firewood. Hotmix is the most common firewood we supply to Auckland homes, and we sell quite a bit during the summer.”
Buying your firewood in summer really makes sense, specially when you can take advantage of Ignition Firewood's summer special of six cubic metres for only $80 per metre - “and it will be the driest firewood around by the time you need to use it,” says Carlos.
There's nothing like the aroma of freshly split firewood in your shed, whether it's the resinous tang of pine or cypress or the more spicy scents of some of the less common timbers. Rather like the smell of new mown hay freshly stacked in the barn, it gives a reassuring feeling of being prepared for winter.
Ignition Firewood makes deliveries all over Auckland six days a week. Ordering is simple - they're only a phone call away on 0800 WOOD NOW (0800 9663 669) and all trucks have mobile EFTPOS for ease of payment. Or you can bring your trailer in to the yard at 1257 Great South Road, Ramarama, only two minutes from the motorway.