Dreamy bungalow in the bush

By Graham Hepburn

SIZE: Land 4.0101ha, house 342sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Above CV of $750,000. Auction March 27.
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 3.30-4pm, or view by appointment.
ON THE WEB: ljhooker.co.nz/8PAGUK
SCHOOL ZONES: Henderson Valley School
CONTACT: Steven Glucina, ph 021 888 455 or 361 7701, or Dee McDade, ph 021 448 832 or 361 7740, LJ Hooker.
FEATURES: Character home with wooden floors, ornate plaster ceilings and leadlight windows set in park-like grounds with impressive stands of native bush. Covered north-facing deck, several fireplaces and HRV system. Self-contained downstairs unit and three sheds/garages.
104-106 Opanuku Rd. Photo / Supplied
104-106 Opanuku Rd. Photo / Supplied

In the 1920s, Opanuku Rd was created so land could be subdivided for the Dreamlands Estate.

The Leman family were quick to buy one of the sections - an 8.8ha bush plot with a lake at the bottom.

In the 1930s they built a house that would not only cater for their needs but also serve as a retreat. The grounds were developed with lawns, paths, a tennis court and putting green.

A balustraded wall still stands at the rear of the property, and frames the entry to the path down through the bush to the lake.

Phil Smith remembers coming here in the 1950s when his mother was a resident.
"My mother was crippled in a wheelchair and I would take her down the path in the wheelchair to the lake, row her around in the dinghy then take her back home," he says.

The path has since become overgrown and the property has been subdivided but its 4ha still has access to a corner of the lake, which used to have a whare sitting in a grassed clearing beside the water.

Phil had fond memories of the property, so when he and wife Elly saw it advertised for sale 25 years ago they pounced and bought it before the auction.

The previous owner, who bought the property from the Lemans, had the place for about a year and started modernising it with the intention of turning the house into a restaurant, but ran into local opposition. He also added a deck to the house and paved around it.

Many of the bungalow's beautiful character features remain such as leadlight windows, square bay windows, beamed ceilings, native timber floors, and plaster ceilings and cornices in the rooms and hallways.

"One of the Leman brothers was a plasterer so the ceilings are all beautiful and individual," says Phil.

Those character features are on display to dramatic effect in the large east-facing lounge, which has views of the city and harbour in the distance.

"When we first came here this was our music room with a piano, organ and the kids with all their instruments," says Elly.

Mostly it has been used as "the rug room", a space to display carpets, rugs, mats and runners that the couple source from overseas for their Talk of Turkey Carpets business that Elly started in the 1980s.

Like many of the other rooms in the house, it has a fireplace and lovely bush views.

At this end of the house there is a collection of small and large bedrooms either side of the lounge, and the main bathroom which has a pastel mural - one of several in the home depicting desert or seaside scenes that Phil discovered when he removed the flock wallpaper introduced by the previous owner.

One of Elly's favourite rooms is the separate dining room, an inviting space in winter when the open fire is roaring.

Central to the home is an open-plan kitchen and family room that has French doors out to a north-facing deck covered by a canopy.

At the western end of the house there is an office and more bedrooms.

On the level beneath is a self-contained space that has a living room with kitchenette, a bedroom and a bathroom. "All of the kids at some stage have camped out in here while they were getting their families together," says Phil.

Surrounding the home are lawns and bush that Phil says the couple have maintained to create "a parkland" setting.

Around the home there is also a garage and two sheds, one with a workshop and power.

Having decided to move permanently to their holiday home in Tairua, Phil and Elly will leave behind a property with a fascinating history, delightful character and intriguing nooks and crannies.

- NZ Herald

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