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Playful Paws Pet Lodge owners Linda and Sophie Hepburn with their dog Axel. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Pets in good hands with new owners at Playful Paws


A mother-and-daughter duo have brought their experience and passion for pets down from the north to operate a reliable boarding lodge tucked within the Hauraki Plains. 

Linda and Sophie Hepburn are the new owners of Playful Paws Pet Lodge, formerly known as Costar, along Hauraki Rd in Turua.

Moving to the district from Mangawhai, Northland, last month has meant the frosty mornings have come as a bit of a shock, but the thrill of expanding their business and being part of the Hauraki community has lit a fire under them.

“We started a doggy daycare up north about three-and-a-half years ago, and it grew from there,” Sophie told The Profile.

The daycare had 15-20 four-legged guests visit each day. The pair also fostered, rescued, rehabilitated, and rehomed dogs. 

In Turua, the boarding and cattery side of the business is up and running, with a daycare service to follow once they’ve “found their feet”. 

“We do try to cater to the dogs’ needs as much as we can – if you’ve got an old dog or a little dog or a nervous dog, anything like that, we can make them more comfortable,” Linda said. 

“We treat the cats and dogs like they are our own pets, and we want the best for all of them.” 

Linda and Sophie’s passion began a decade ago, when they lived in Thailand. 

For four years they spent a lot of their time desexing, and providing food and care to homeless stray animals.

“Upon returning home to New Zealand, we thought: ‘Why not make a living from doing what we love – being around animals?’”

Playful Paws was established when Sophie was 19. She soon enlisted the help of mum Linda, and the two quickly became a bona fide team. 

“It just always seemed right,” Sophie, now 23, said. “I always felt like it was my calling. Whenever dogs are around, it always gels well.” 

Linda said she was proud of Sophie for starting the business, and said she had become a sort of “dog whisperer”. 

The pair said doggy daycare and boarding was now more of “a norm” for pet owners.

But it was important for the businesses to be trustworthy, they said.

“Our goal is to make this a place people want to bring their pets to, as well as make it a safe and fun place for the animals.”

Drop-off hours are between 8am-9.30am, and 4pm-5.30pm, but they are flexible by arrangement. Appointments to inspect the property can also be arranged. 

For information, phone 027 415 8209, email, or find them on Facebook