Rugby was a great passion of the late Sir Fred Allen but he also had a huge love of the sea. That's what brought the former All Black and All Black coach to Whangaparaoa.
Sir Fred, who was knighted in 2010, had stayed there with a close friend Roly McCrystal, and it was Roly who convinced him to buy a double section nearby that had two army huts on it.
Sir Fred's friend and biographer Alan Sayers, who co-authored Fred the Needle: The Untold Story of Fred Allen with Les Watkins, says Roly was adamant the property would be a great buy.
"There were very few homes in the area then and Sir Fred bought the property in the 1950s when he had the pick of sections on The Crescent," says Alan.
"His love of the sea was one of the reasons he bought the property and he also loved fishing."
At the time, Sir Fred and wife Norma were living in Kohimarama so they had the huts converted into a bach to serve as a holiday home.
In 1967 they built the two-storey brick home that now sits on the clifftop overlooking the sea.
Alan says Sir Fred oversaw plans for the three-bedroom home, which was built with the finest materials available at the time.
The home was designed with an open-plan living/dining area, with the centrepiece being a double-sided open fireplace.
On this level, there are two bedrooms and a bathroom, with the master bedroom enjoying views of Manly Bay.
There is also a sunroom off the living room that captures the morning sun and, when Sir Fred was living there, it was packed with numerous All Black and Auckland rugby team photos and memorabilia - as well as albums of newspaper clippings.
Downstairs there are storage rooms, a bathroom and a rumpus room that could be converted into further bedrooms. There is also internal access to the double garage.
Decks on either side of the house provide sun or shelter but it is the deck and slate-floored conservatory on the seaward side of the house that provide stunning views out to sea and up the coast. Steps from the deck lead to a large, sloping lawn with trees and shrubs for privacy.
From the deck, Sir Fred could keep an eye on his 12m launch, Sundancer, which he had built at about the same time as the house and kept moored below the property. Later, he moved it to nearby Gulf Harbour.
Alan says The Crescent was Sir Fred's "spiritual home" because it was a place "saturated in rugby folk-lore; where the legendary coach spent a great deal of his time devising winning strategies and entertaining All Black greats and rugby dignitaries from around the world".
In the mid-2000s, Sir Fred and Norma sold their Kohimarama home to live at The Crescent permanently and enjoy their later years. Norma died in 2009 and Sir Fred passed away earlier this year.
"Fred enjoyed life going to big games at Eden Park (where he was patron), fishing, boating and meeting old mates at the Silverdale RSA," says Alan. "With Fred and Norma the consummate hosts, many a night was spent entertaining rugby guests and friends and reminiscing, with a drink or two, on past victories. His birthdays were special occasions with the large lounge and huge semi-enclosed decks overlooking a wide expanse of sea both filled to capacity with All Blacks and his closest friends."By Graham Hepburn