Private resort serenity

By Sandra Goodwin

SIZE: Land approx 1161sq m, house approx 440sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Similar-size properties in the area are selling from $2.5 million to $3.5 million. Auction on-site at 1pm, Tuesday, August 27 (unless sold prior).
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 1-1.45pm.
SCHOOL ZONES: Victoria Avenue School, Remuera Intermediate, Auckland Grammar, Epsom Girls' Grammar.
CONTACT: Mark Ambrose and Cathy Smith, Unlimited Potential, ph 021 621 039 (Mark) or 021 825 149 (Cathy).
FEATURES: Private, resort-style home with glass- sided living and two wings arranged around central poolside entertaining area, including freestanding cabana and outdoor fireplace.
70 Victoria Ave, Remuera. Photo / Ted Baghurst
70 Victoria Ave, Remuera. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Arrival at this Remuera home is like an extended drum roll.

You'll find it secreted away down a long driveway, with its pleasures under wraps behind a symmetrical entry courtyard. Denise Hopkinson opens the big timber front door, laying bare a wealth of indoor-outdoor living reminiscent of archetypal Californian house designs.

She's standing in a glass-sided corridor behind which jets arc water into a central pool. The corridor links two spacious wings of the home, with parking in the gated courtyard outside an internal-access double garage.

"All the openness and glass and the sense of modernism, it feels like you're walking into a resort," she says. "People love it. They're so surprised because when they knock at the front door they don't realise all of this is here."

The Hopkinsons were living in England about seven years ago when they listened to an architect friend's recommendation that New Zealand - where they'd never visited - was "the sort of place you'd like".

"We've always been adventurous types," Denise says matter-of-factly.

They invested in a Viaduct apartment before nipping down to check out more property. They immediately fell for this one, buying it at auction over the phone during a Fijian stopover travelling back to the UK. A couple of months later they were back to stay with their two children, having sold Mark's property development business.

Since then they've entrenched themselves as card-carrying Kiwi citizens. They own Auckland International Airport art business Artport, plus a Coromandel property and are in the process of selling a Kuaotunu store they've owned.

And they've been busy on the home front, too, evolving this dwelling originally designed by Ron Sang and Simon Carnachan. They've added central heating, refreshed its westerly wing and fed Mark's passion for construction by replacing a single-storied easterly wing with a much bigger two-storey one.

The westerly wing is their hub. Parts of it are able to open up pavilion style, because it's flanked by the poolside courtyard and a wraparound deck looking up to Mt Hobson. "It's so peaceful down here. As soon as the leaves come out you cannot see another house. You could be in a park. It's lovely listening to the cicadas in summertime."

They're keen entertainers, with the refurbished kitchen-informal dining room with gas fire a nice place for casual get-togethers. The neighbouring dining room is a more intimate space where metallic vines in the wallpaper glint during evening meals. A big lounge with open fire precedes two bedrooms, including the original master suite with big en suite and dressing room-office and a bedroom they use as a projects room. An office and toilet are nearby.

On glorious summer days the pool-side cabana and outdoor fire is a cool place to flop. The 20 water jets curving into the heated pool are adjustable. "You feel like Esther Williams swimming in there."

The Hopkinsons' subtropical planting around the pool includes vivid bird-of-paradise and hardy palms, with fruit trees alongside on the level lawn off the easterly wing. They wanted this two-storey wing, which includes a changing room with shower, to emphasise content not corridors. It starts with a snug warmed by a Kent fire. From here two sets of stairs access the upper level, where two en suited bedrooms open to the deck. The downstairs master suite with dual walk-in wardrobes and a luxurious en suite opens to the pool area.

This is the longest the family have owned a home, having lived in and then sold a succession of English homes Mark had developed. They're selling this home to build a more lock-up-and-leave Auckland base to complement the Otama bach they're building.

- NZ Herald

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