Crisp winter mornings with a light dusting of frost on the trees that frame this property are especially poignant for Karen Scott.
They're a reminder of her earlier life in Garston in Southland on a family farm with a historic 19th-century home built of schist and surrounded by leafy splendour. Here, it is the mature plane, oak, sequoia redwood, totara, poplars and liquidambar trees that embrace the expansive property that is Karen and Oliver Scott's family home with all of its sense of early 20th-century history perfectly intact.
"That dusting of frost, the changing of the colours on the trees ... I love that," she explains. "This is a great house in winter."
Come summer, and all eyes are on the deep, shady canopy of a nearby 150-year old mulberry tree that pre-dates their 1902 home. When it is fruiting, the nine resident wood pigeons swoop in for their fill. They're just part of the picture that is the lifestyle Karen and Oliver and their sons, Lucas, 12, and Jacob, 5, have enjoyed since moving here from central Auckland six years ago.
Their focus since then has been to further develop the property, installing new post-and-rail fences, three stables and a tack room. They also converted their old woodshed into an elegant cottage they rent out for bridal parties ahead of their wedding photography in these grounds.
"This is probably one of the easiest lifestyle properties to manage because it looks after itself," says Oliver, a property developer.
Karen's daily routine begins by walking their dogs in the bush by the river. She might then put her horse through its paces in the showjumping arena that they look out to each morning from the kitchen, the lounge and the two large decks that virtually double the size of their living area.
Karen and Oliver have the previous owners to thank for the integrity of their extensive renovations. The band-sawn weatherboards hint at the history of this home that was an original farmhouse on the pioneers' coach route from Helensville to the ferry at Riverhead.
Inside, the layout is simple, with a large central hallway off the front door, bedrooms on either side, and formal and informal living areas facing north. The high villa stud adds to the sense of space. The decision to install timber double-hung windows low down the walls heightens the connection with the outdoors and creates a cosy ambience.
Roof space in one of the boy's bedrooms has been put to good use - an attic ladder leads up to a "room" where they build their Lego.
In the kitchen, deep granite worktops and a butler's sink are key features. Sliding windows open out to the lounge deck alongside a stable door that perfectly suits this home's rural outlook and functional aesthetic.
In the laundry, dark-brown glossy floor tiles and painted tongue-and-groove cabinetry continue the flavour. Along the hallways, the heritage-style family bathroom with its claw-foot bath, twin pedestal basins and tiled shower has not one hint of chrome. The tapware, shower and bidet fixtures are all unpolished brass as is the porcelain/brass pull chain on the toilet cistern.
Every room here looks out to grounds with an orchard that includes feijoa, peach, apple, macadamia nut and fig trees. The paddocks are home to their three alpacas, a milking goat, five horses and 14 sheep. Chickens keep them in free-range eggs.
Now the Scott family are moving to a larger, neighbouring rural property. The pond with its long-time resident turtle that was about to be their next project here awaits a new owner.