The space and comfort of life at 124 Wairau Rd in Oakura amazed Steve when he arrived from England in 2004.
It wasn't a total surprise, however. His wife Jenny had travelled out six months before to settle into a new job and find a home for their family.
Steve trusted Jenny would find the right home and when she called him to say it was in Wairau Rd and she was going to put a deposit down on it he was confident in her decision.
The images he saw on the 'net, however, had him wondering. "What a huge house" was his first reaction. "Why?" was his next thought.
Then: "Why not?"
His initial consternation was created by the scale of the property and its wealth of features - including a grass tennis court in the grounds, an indoor heated swimming pool, and five bedrooms.
Once here, he quickly appreciated just what Jenny had found. The home they left in England wasn't small, but at 350sqm and on grounds of 3170sqm, the Wairau Rd
home offered much more. "It was huge, but I loved it," Steve says.
At that stage, it was just a couple of years old, an impressive two-storey Jennian Homes design in brick and plastered panels with feature curved windows.
Tropical-style plantings emphasised Oakura's resort feeling - with palm trees growing each side of the brick-pillared gateway and again in a feature garden alongside the sweeping driveway.
The home itself is as impressive today as it was when Steve and Jenny found it.
Its entrance has a grand touch to complement the design - double doors that can be opened wide into the spacious tiled foyer. In here, a staircase leads up to the master bedroom with its ensuite, a family bathroom, and two spare bedrooms.
The master bedroom has its own balcony with a view down to the sea. "We can sit out here at night with a wine," Steve says. "Sunsets are tremendous and we are not overlooked by anyone."
At ground level, a hallway runs left to two more bedrooms, another family bathroom, the triple garage space that's currently furnished as self-contained accommodation, and that huge indoor pool room with its own shower and toilet.
French doors open from the foyer into the sunny north-facing living spaces - an open-plan kitchen-dining-family area, with a formal lounge through a set of internal sliding doors.
The kitchen is a generous space with plenty of pleasing features - from the curved island bench with its built-in display cabinets to the low-level cook-top space and the polished rimu trim to cupboards and benches.
Floor tiles in here and in the ensuite upstairs have underfloor heating.
The living spaces all open out through sliding doors to the sunny spacious grounds - giving that easy and all-important indoor-outdoor flow that most homeowners consider a must-have these days.
The home is a massive contrast to the home Steve remembers growing up in - a Coronation St-style terrace home set adjoining and back-to-back with neighbours so there was no back or side yard of any sort.
"Never in my wildest dreams then did I imagine living in a place like this," he says.
"But it was one of the reasons we came to New Zealand."
Their desire to look for a better quality of life took hold back in 1999. "We were fed up with life in England. One day Jenny came home from work and said 'I just want to pack up and go somewhere' ... and I said 'Let's do it!'
"We sold our home, put the money in the bank, and took off on a round-the-world trip for a year."
New Zealand was one of their calls and on that first trip here they appreciated the warm and friendly welcome they were given.
"We loved it here and said we would come back."
It took them three-and-a-half years to do that, but in 2003 they made their move.
The move here confirmed that first friendly experience "...especially in Oakura ... it's a great village where you get to know everybody."
Steve and Jenny have never regretted their move; and their daughter then aged 14 and son aged 18 also appreciated their new home and its location.
"They had a fantastic time," Steve remembers. "Jack's mate had a year out here after leaving school in England ... what a time they had. They went surfing here and then planted trees for a while in Australia. We thought he'd come back a full-time surfer."
At home, they all made the most of the great features of the home. "What a place for a party," Steve says.
The indoor pool area was well used in those early years ... with doors thrown open, people could move between the water inside and the spacious sheltered patio and grounds outside.
As the children grew older, their focus changed, however. "We used the pool less and less ... and when they left and went to university, we used it even less."
The sea was just down at the bottom of Wairau Rd ("Just five or six minutes walk away," says Steve) and the couple found they enjoyed a regular plunge there more. So they altered the pool room ... into a pool room of another style. They put a floor over the swimming pool and placed a pool table on it, as well as a table tennis table and a table soccer unit to the side to create a great games room facility.
Sliding doors open the huge room to the patio and grounds outside - and they've been used as much as the pool was.
"Cricket and football ... the lot," Steve says with a smile. "Thirty or 40 people can be here and it doesn't feel crowded."
They made other changes as well ... all aimed at sharing this large home with others. The triple garaging was converted to a lounge with an adjacent kitchenette to complement the two downstairs bedrooms.
Those changes made it easy to accommodate the visits from relatives who kept coming over from England. "We had three lots come at once one time," Steve recalls.
"They asked 'Have you got enough room?' ... and we said 'Yes, just spread out'."
That experience prompted further development: "We ran it as a B&B for a while,"
Steve explains. "It's so versatile."
As well as individuals and couples, small conferences of half-a-dozen people have found the facilities convenient and successful. And even though the house is now up for sale, people still keep inquiring about accommodation here.
A career move out of town for Jenny has this property on the market now, but Steve says they love the Oakura environment so much that they will return.
New owners will be well settled into 124 Wairau Rd by then.
Harcourts consultants Robyn Prentice and Lisa Weston are marketing the property and expecting high interest in its location and features.
It's quite unique, they say - a fantastic home for extended families and an entertainer's paradise with the large patio and lawn areas. "It would be great for retired or retiring farmers," suggests Lisa. "There is even the potential for subdivision for new owners."
The work that Steve and Jenny have done in converting the garage into accommodation and the pool room into games room can easily be reversed, Lisa says, and the spaces reinstated as they were originally presented.
WHERE: 124 Wairau Rd, Oakura.
HOW BIG: 3170sqm in grounds; 350sqm in home.
HOW MUCH: To be set by auction on December 12, 2013 at 5:30pm at Harcourt
House (if not sold prior).
WHAT YOU GET: Huge family or executive home with a sense of grand
and gracious living but also cosy and comfortable. Changes made to allow a
B&B business can easily be reversed or the options for occasional guests and a
supplementary income can be retained. Excellent location in the beachside town, with
both sea and shops just a walk away.
MARKETED BY: Lisa Weston and Robyn Prentice at Harcourts - ph 06 759 9160 or
Lisa on 0272 808 798, Robyn on 0274 866 781.
ON THE WEB: www.open2view.com - ref 304386; www.taranakiharcourts.co.nz -
SEE IT: Open home, Sunday, December 1, at 2pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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