When Brit Steve moved to New Zealand 16 years ago, he embarked on an epic search to find just the right place to live.

He'd been on holiday to the South Island on several occasions and knew he wanted to make it his home — "Is there another island?" he asks cheekily — and after traversing it in a campervan trying to work out where to settle, he decided on Wanaka.

"I must have looked at every house in Wanaka but as soon as I saw the house in Stone St, I knew it was the one," he says.

The grand European-style house reminded him of homes in the UK, which is no surprise because it was modelled on a Scottish manse, or clergy house. It had been built in 1991 and 1992 by businessman Peter McKinley, "Mr Pre-Cast Concrete of the South Island", as Steve puts it, who was inspired after travelling to Scotland in search of his roots.

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"He came back and wanted to build a house based on what he had seen, and because of the business he was in, he wanted to use concrete," says Steve.

"The concrete was poured on site, and it was a huge job. But as a result, it is a solid home."

In fact, one of the neighbours, who watched construction and saw the reinforcing bars going in, has told Steve, "If there's a major earthquake here, I know where I'm going."

Peter and his wife, Doreen, had collected many fixtures and fittings over the years, including stunning stained glass windows and an ornately carved antique mirror, and they commissioned other features for their home, such as the Italian marble fire surround in the living room.

Decorative coving throughout the home was inspired by a visit to Government House in Wellington, and the McKinleys insisted on top quality craftsmanship throughout.

They put a lot of thought into what they wanted, even before the first cubic metre of concrete was poured, says Steve.

"Peter did things like design the cupboard next to the fireplace so you can put a box on wheels in it, and roll it out to fill it with wood.

"In the kitchen there is a pastry board that slides out, and you can put your mixer on a shelf that levers out from the cupboard, so you don't have to lift it out every time you want to use it. He thought of everything."

Peter also ensured the house made the most of the spectacular lake and mountain views by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows, including several picturesque bay windows.

The balcony is the perfect place to enjoy a drink and the outlook.

The house has been ideal for entertaining. The living room is particularly cosy in winter with the fire going and has proved popular with guests.

A more informal living space next to the kitchen — which Steve calls the slob room because it's where he likes to "slob out" — has been the scene of memorable dinner parties after being cleared of sofas and filled with dining tables seating 14 people.

There is also a separate dining space. Downstairs is a large snooker room — the table will be staying — and an adjoining sitting room with a bar, which are also great for gatherings. A wine cellar has been dug into the ground and maintains an ideal temperature.

Also on this lower level are two bedrooms, which share a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. One has a bay window with great views.

There are two more bedrooms upstairs, including the master with a walk-through wardrobe and balcony, and an office. Another room could be used as a second office or sewing room, and there is a sizeable laundry, a bathroom, and powder room.

The kitchen, with its central island, granite bench tops, ample storage and bay window, is
wonderful to work in, says Steve.

His faith in Wanaka as the perfect place to live was justified over the years. But illness curbed his ability to go "charging up and down mountains" and he has moved to Christchurch to take advantage of the arts scene there.

It's a new phase of his life, and time for the house to provide someone else with happy times.

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