At the city’s edge
There's a story behind the meat and vegetables set out on the kitchen bench ready for
evening meal preparations.
You can see the meal is going to be tasty and healthy - a haunch of beef out of the
freezer, a generously sized cauliflower, a bowl of newly shelled peas, another of red-
skinned potatoes, and a serving of fresh strawberries for dessert.
The story is one of self-sufficiency. Carolyn points out that her meal items have all
been raised or grown on the land around this edge-of-the-city home.
"We're from a farm originally," she explains as she deftly splits another pea pod. "We
sold it in 1999 and moved to the suburbs, but couldn't handle it.
"Houses were so close you could smell what everyone was cooking for tea. The lady
across the road had a glass table and you could hear her set the table."
Carolyn and Graham decided they needed to regain a little of the peace and quiet they
had enjoyed on their farm - not the land itself, but somewhere with an outlook and
privacy and still close to town. That proved a difficult order to fill.
Until they found McGiven Drive in 2001 - then a relatively new lifestyle
development, off Veale Rd at the top of the city.
There was more land than they thought they wanted - about a hectare, with about half
of it dropping down a grassy slope to a stream boundary. "But it had everything else
going for it," says Carolyn. "And we are so happy now that it had the land as well."
The property is on the edge of a grass-bottomed valley - looking out over the reserve
that encompasses the upper portion of the city's flood protection scheme, including
one of the dams that help control the Huatoki water resources. "It can never be built
on, so this property will always have this view."
The slopes below the house accommodate a couple of beefies each year that provide
meat for the freezer, as do the several sheep that also graze here. Flat areas to the side
are used to grow the vegetables and fruit that are abundant on this property.
The list of fruits that Carolyn has written out for me in advance is impressive - by my
count, 23 different varieties that would seem to satisfy any taste or menu you could
There are almost three dozen feijoas planted as a hedge, plus four named varieties
of the fruit; five mandarins; one grapefuit; two each of peaches, apricots and plums;
a nectarine; a fruiting cherry; two pears; four apples; two figs; five tamarillos; four
yellow and two red guavas; one walnut; three blackcurrants; one blueberry; seven
covered strawberry beds; a passionfruit; rhubarb; a cranberry hedge; kiwifruit; and a
crab apple tree.
It's a highly productive property, says Carolyn. "The feijoa hedge is half to two-thirds
fruiting, so we keep the family and neighbourhood supplied with feijoas ... and the
freezer is still chock-a-block with stewed feijoas."
The mandarins are also generous with their fruit during their months-long
season. "We get 2-3 buckets several times a week ... hundreds of kilos of mandarins,"
The sea is not that far away, either, helping to add further variety to menus
here. "Graham goes fishing a lot ... and intends fishing a lot more," Carolyn explains.
"It really is the Good Life ... it's great!"
They are putting that behind them now, opting for a return to smaller quarters in
suburbia. That's a springboard to travel experiences they are anticipating for the new
few years - something that land, gardens and animals won't allow.
Carolyn and Graham will definitely miss this property - after all, they shaped it as
their retirement home. But they are pragmatic about the propect, realising they have to
tackle their travel dreams now while they are fit enough and healthy enough to enjoy
them. "Too many people leave travelling till it's too late. So we are doing it now."
New owners will relish the lifestyle they are being allowed to enjoy here.
At the centre of it is the quality residence that Carolyn and Graham had built when
they bought the land.
"We built it totally for the sun; that was really important for us," says Carolyn. "In the
summer, the sun is higher and doesn't come in, so it's cooler; in winter, the sun pours
in. It's really, really good."
At some stage during the day, every room gets sun.
The couple put plenty of thought into what they wanted in their home and city
architects John Ardern and Eldon Peters gave it shape. "It was going to be our
retirement home, so we built accordingly ... wide hallways and all flat living."
The couple chose kiln-fired Hinuera stone to clad the home's exterior. "Everyone else
was doing bricks and tiles, but we wanted something that would look like it had been
here forever - solid and traditional and permanent-looking."
The kiln-firing process gives a warmer colour to the stone and enhances its character,
A double cedar door beneath a gable welcomes visitors to this home. Through
the doors, a spacious foyer is the interface between living areas to the left and the
bedrooms, service areas and internal access garage to the right.
-There's plenty of light in here, helped by the nearby floor-to-ceiling feature window
in the hallway to the bedrooms. It looks out on to a garden and the driveway and
The master bedroom is a spacious suite with plenty of room to include comfortable
furniture on which to relax in peace. Doors open out to its own portion of deck and
the views to the valley. Ensuite and walk-in wardrobe complete the space.
Two more bedrooms are also spacious areas and enjoy either valley or garden
outlooks. All the bedrooms also have TV and phone connections.
The garage is a great space - literally. It will accommodate four cars and still leave
room for a generous workshop and storage area. Carolyn and Graham always
recognised the potential here to close off part of the area to create a rumpus or extra
At the other end of the house, the living areas bask in views as well as sun.
Windows and doors wrap around the spaces, framing the green panorama of valley,
bush and pasture. Homes in the distance are just that; there's no intrusion -- no-- -
clink of crockery on glass table top.
Higher stud heights inside this home allowed the fitting of fanlight windows all the
way through the house. "From about the end of December to the end of March, they
stay open and keep the place beautifully cool," Carolyn says.
Once the cooler weather arrives, gas space heating works with an Intellivent heat-
exchanger and ventilation system to keep the whole house warm, cosy and fresh.
This looks to be an easy home in which to live - a generous kitchen, complemented
by the open-plan dining and lounge areas on either side, both opening out to the decks
facing the valley.
French doors in front of the dining area virtually extend this space outside. "It's like
eating outside in the summer; it's lovely," says Carolyn.
Birdlife abounds, she adds. "Every summer, a pair of skylarks nest just over the fence
in the long grass. We can hear them warbling away up in the sky. It's gorgeous and
we'll miss that.
"And because we are sitting here at the top of the hill, we can see hawks floating by
out in front of us ... it is so gorgeous."
She points across the valley to a swathe of bush. "That's Bendall's Walk across
there ... it's a lovely walking track that you can follow down to the Huatoki Walkway.
You can walk down to the city."
There are other appealing aspects. "Late on Sunday, the fine rain turned everything
out beyond the feijoa hedge to white ... we were in a world of our own. It was lovely."
At other times, Carolyn says, rainbows paint the sky in vibrant colours, or the couple
can watch a rain belt move across the valley while their home stays dry.
It all makes this a picture-perfect property.
WHERE: 64 McGiven Drive, New Plymouth.
HOW BIG: 1.02ha in land; 307sqm in house.
HOW MUCH: Express your interest over $730,000 (RV $800,000).
WHAT YOU GET: Quality, finely featured Hinuera Stone home on a striking,
productive lifestyle property at the top of the city. And it's still just minutes from New
Plymouth's CBD. Valley views and all-day sun in the living areas. Huge four-car
MARKETED BY: Diane Douds at TSB Realty - 06 968 3800 or 027 249 0146.
ON THE WEB: Open2view.com - ref 281136.
SEE IT: Open home tomorrow, Sunday, December 9, 2.30pm.
Taranaki Daily News