Property editor of the NZ Herald

'Circus McGurkus' - Herne Bay mansion comes down

A vandalised, abandoned $6 million-plus Auckland mansion nicknamed "Circus McGurkus" is coming down.

Yesterday, only the eye-catching shingle-clad turret remained at the Spanish-style terracotta stucco-clad house in arguably Auckland's best street and best neighbourhood: the corner of Sarsfield St and Sentinel Rd, Herne Bay.

The house was dubbed Circus McGurkus - featured in a Dr Suess story - by some for its unusual appearance and attracted publicity when it stood run down and empty in New Zealand's most expensive suburb.

Quotable Value has the house at 81 Sarsfield St listed as being worth a pittance compared to its site. The property has a capital value of $4.4 million of which $3.9 million is the land alone.

What was left of the house yesterday. Photo / Anne Gibson
What was left of the house yesterday. Photo / Anne Gibson

But those figures are two years out of date. Auckland property prices have been rising at around 20 per cent annually, so the property is probably worth at least $6 million now.

For two years, the property was neglected, without any services, its garden overgrown and a hedge bursting through a cracked concrete fence. But it has now been reduced to a pile of rubble, fenced off by demolition workers who were yesterday spraying water on the site to dampen dust.

The section is on a sloping site overlooking the Auckland Harbour Bridge and has panoramic water views.

It is also only a few properties away from property investor and multimillionaire Ben Cook's house, which he bought last year for $24 million, setting the 2015 top price for a New Zealand house transaction.

Yesterday, workers were busy with a digger on-site, used to pick apart the house.
They were piling demolition materials into large heaps, ready for removal.

Property records show the property is owned by Watchman Holdings, whose directors include Graeme Murphy. Last year, he told the Herald of the property's history.

"It's been divided into four flats and it's just been like a party house for the past five years," he said then. "It's been added to over the years, and it's had three or four alterations made to it."

He said he expected a new house to be built on the site by December this year.

See the Herne Bay location on a Google Map here:

- NZ Herald

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