Secluded setting has tropical feel

MIKE SHAW
Last updated 09:56 22/02/2014

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Approaching a right-of-way home always carries a sense of anticipation. On a streetside property, a home and its environment is usually obvious ... off the street, it can be a real surprise package.

That's just what you find at 216b Tukapa St in New Plymouth.

And it's a two-part package, each with its own surprises - one is the grounds and the other the house.

The grounds greet you first as you reach the end of the driveway. The right-hand edge of the drive continues straight through to the corner of the property where the house sits. To the left, however it spreads out, encompassing a separate double garage, a step-down lawn alongside, and a valley boundary of majestic mature trees.

You also note the drive dropping down to a basement garage beneath the house and on to a separate large shed with a huge stud height and tall double doors that could let a large motorhome in and out. But the bush draws your eyes back.

It's an impressive green oasis in a suburban city setting. "Everybody who comes here comments; they didn't realise what was here," says owner Josie, who found this amazing property with late husband Ernie 10 years ago.

Apparently, the green boundary is a legacy of the former Duncan & Davies plant nursery that operated from here through to Magnolia Drive.

"That's Sherwood Forest," Josie quips, explaining that a child who they fostered and who loved space used to spend countless hours playing in the 'forest'. A swing made from a thick ship's mooring rope hangs from a high branch as evidence of fun times down here.

The towering trees would have given the original nursery planting areas beyond plenty of shelter from blustery breezes. They include a pohutukawa that could be as much as a century in age, and stately mature puriri and rimu.

Sherwood had run a little wild at the time Josie and Ernie bought this property, but has recently been tamed with a careful clean-up and new terracing with recycled car tyres. Josie has had hundreds of clivia plants bedded into the tyre terraces to create a low-maintenance shade-loving garden feature dropping down into the trees.

Timber steps lead down into the 'forest' where you can appreciate the clivia plantings and imagine the potential as they mature. "They flower from September-October right through till March," Josie says. "At two years, they start to flower; now they are in place, it will be a picture eventually."

A few of the clivia plants will go with Josie to a new home, but the bulk will stay here for new owners to admire. Colours will range from the usual orange through to less-common red and white varieties.

The lawn that visitors pass as they approach the house is the "concert lawn", says Josie. She and Ernie hosted all sorts of musical events on this green sward for friends and family. It has a family aspect as well in the elevated playhouse that sits on the lawn border.

The garage above the lawn came into its own for some of these occasions and presents well with its terracotta-tiled floor and white-painted interior. "This is a party room," Josie says.

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On to the house - pleasingly framed with striking tall palms for a distinct point of difference on today's city market. There's a designer touch in the sheltered porch entry with its square supporting columns.

A quick look through the side gate reveals one of the features of life here - a sheltered courtyard with more palms, a raised brick-detailed barbecue area, a grouping of banana trees that Josie says deliver tasty fruit in season, and a private spa pool.

It's a sun-soaked presentation that suggests a tropical setting rather than suburban New Plymouth. A healthy pawpaw tree growing further into the garden adds to that feeling.

Step inside the front door and you find more designer detailing - pleasingly laid out open-plan kitchen, dining, lounge and family spaces that flow into a conservatory area and out to that tropical courtyard.

Absolutely unexpected and a delight to the eye.

No surprise that this is Josie's favourite part of the home. "Ernie loved the big shed and the extra double garage; I loved this area," she explains.

A free-standing painted brick fireplace and chimney feature provides a subtle separation for lounge and the rest of the living areas and all areas take in various aspects of the green environment into which this home sits.

"You feel like you are in the country ... but you are actually in town. This is nature at its best, right in town."

That's a feeling that many guests enjoyed during a stay here. "We ran it as a bed-and- breakfast when we first came here. We had many people who loved the trees, the bush and birds, and the serenity of the place."

Card-playing gatherings also enjoyed competition here. "We have had 34 card players here with seven trestle tables stretched out across the living areas and outside. It's a marvellous house for entertaining."

The kitchen was renewed by previous owners and works very well for catering to the needs of bigger groups - especially since Josie had the original stove replaced by a new model with a warming drawer. A skylight fills the internal kitchen area with natural light.

The fireplace contains a near-new inset woodburner, the warmth of which is complemented by heat pumps in the living areas and master bedroom.

A hallway leads from the living areas down to the three double bedrooms and one single. In the hallway, the first room is the family bathroom and separate toilet - a convenient placement for guests.

The master bedroom is a spacious area with his- and-hers wardrobes and a well-appointed ensuite that includes a bidet. A sliding door from the master bedroom opens out on to a small private deck, with a kowhai growing alongside as a feature planting. "We could wake up in the morning and lie in bed watching the tuis in that tree."

Around the corner from the deck is the clothesline, protected by a clear canopy feature that Josie says is much appreciated in damp weather. There are no worries about rushing out to get washing in out of the rain.

Stairs descend from the hallway to the tandem garage and workshop under the house - with more terracotta tiles across the floor. Josie suggests that with the wealth of space in the extra sheds, the workshop would make a great wine cellar.

Ernie was a talented woodturner and there's a wealth of wood, mainly matai, stacked in the garages, as well as partly turned bowls and other items. Josie suggests someone might be interested in buying this craft resource as well.

Anne Wilson at McDonald Real Estate is marketing the property, which she says is a rare opportunity on one of Westown's desirable streets.

"This home will captivate you with all it has to offer," Anne says. "The half-acre setting and style of this property are a real rarity in the middle of the city - and with such privacy."

Spacious living areas in the home and the sunny private courtyard are beautifully complemented by the mature trees on the property. "This is native New Zealand at your doorstep."

The property is also well positioned, Anne adds - right across the road from Francis Douglas Memorial College and close to Westown shopping and the hospital.

The extra space in the sheds will also be welcomed for a wide variety of uses, she suggests.

- Taranaki Daily News

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