Owning the tall ship Soren Larsen helped bring Tony and Fleur Davies to this scenic Waimauku property, where they've established a home-stay business.
They bought the historic ship, which starred in BBC series The Onedin Line, in 1978 while living in England. They fell in love with New Zealand when invited here after a nine-month journey re-enacting the first convict fleet to Australia. The Davies emigrated here with their two young children in 1994, initially living in Devonport before buying this splendidly scenic rural property 18 years ago.
"We fell in love with the land," Fleur says. "It was so private, with the home sitting beautifully on the land." The couple named their new home Harescombe House after a Gloucestershire village they'd lived in.
Harescombe House's long driveway separates it from the road, curving past a combined workshop/barn. Expansive off-street parking fronts the country-style home, linked to a two-storey, three-bay garage/office beside a covered walkway.
The Davies' 1994 renovations nearly doubled the 1984 home's size. They built a separate cottage in 1996.
The hub for all the family, including Burmese cat Cino and golden retriever Baggy, is the ground-floor, open-plan kitchen-family-dining room. Its spectacular outlook is a grand vista down a gracious sloping lawn to a pond glistening before a stand of native bush. The room flows easily to a covered patio and neighbouring in-ground pool.
The open-plan spread's ceiling is sarked in Fijian kauri accented by Douglas fir beams. It has a woodburner and a cosy library off one end. With bifold windows above the breakfast bar open, breakfast feels like it's in the garden.
The home entertains easily, but the combined party marking 25 years' ownership of the Soren Larsen, their daughter's 21st and son's graduation was so big that it required a Danish pavilion marquee.
The ground floor also has a big lounge with a woodburner, a laundry, toilet and big bedroom with en suite, walk-in wardrobe and pool access. Over the past four years, the couple have offered home-stays in this bedroom and a large upstairs one with lake views. They also offer their grounds for wedding photographs.
Upstairs is the home-stay bedroom, a polished bathroom, a double bedroom, oversize single bedroom and the master suite with en suite. The latter's walk-in wardrobe is a similar size to the Soren Larsen cabin the family lived in for years.
Their sailing business operated from a spacious office above the generous triple garage, which could also suit a rumpus room or be set up for home-stays, as could the cottage.
Fleur's mother, Jane, is in her 80s and loves her cedar cottage's nearness to the main home yet it is very private. It has lake views, a bedroom with en suite, a lounge/dining room with woodburner, a kitchen and a garage/laundry.
The Davies run sheep and cattle, but also have had horses. The property would make a good equestrian run, with about 4ha of flat land and seven of its 11 fenced paddocks being easy-contour. It has subdivision potential. Muriwai is 10 minutes' drive and downtown Auckland 25 minutes, off-peak.
Now the family's grown up, the couple plans to downsize.