Take one look at Dame Deirdre Milne's remarkable resume and it's easy to see why she has chosen to live near one of Auckland's best city bus routes for so many years.
Living in Rewa Rd, off Mt Eden Rd, meant Dame Deirdre - a former barrister who was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2003 for her services to women and the community - could easily bus into work.
Her many roles over the years have included founding the Women's Electoral Lobby, being a trustee of the Women's Refugee Foundation, a chairwoman of the NZ Aids Foundation and a director of the Yellow Bus Company.
Deirdre and husband Don have lived in Mt Eden for nearly 50 years. They love the suburb's central location and village atmosphere.
In 1992 they were living happily in a house in nearby Ferryhill Rd, with their three adult sons "coming and going", when Deirdre happened to visit the owner of the Rewa Rd property who was about to put it on the market.
"I took one look at the house and the magnificent views and fell in love, so we made an offer," she says.
The elevated, west-facing house - down a quiet right-of-way at the end of a cul-de-sac - has excellent views across Mt Albert to West Auckland and to the Waitakere Ranges.
Plans show the original brick-and-tile house was built in 1945 by a Mr Aickin of Aickin Timber Ltd, who used top-quality wood for the construction including solid rimu floorboards.
The Aickins also laid out the main levels of the 1156sq m garden, and planted many of the trees and shrubs that give the garden great bones, including acid-loving rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias that thrive in the friable, volcanic soil.
Deirdre was not previously a gardener but spending time in this garden, surrounded by mature trees that attract native birds including tui, fantails and kingfishers, converted her to the hobby. The garden is divided into a series of rooms, including formal rose beds edged with mature box hedges. "It has reached a state of equilibrium. You could spend a lot of time in it. But you can also maintain it by putting in an hour or two a week."
The single-level house also has solid bones. Alterations by its second owners included an extension to the eastern side to add three new bedrooms and a second bathroom.
Deirdre and Don - who are the property's third owners - renovated the kitchen, laundry and the first bathroom soon after they purchased the house.
The formal lounge, to the right of the front entrance, retains its lovely, large open fireplace and an elegant alcove with windows that look out over the front garden to spectacular sunsets.
The Milnes have lightened up this room by adding double doors and a small balcony that leads down to the garden. They have also extended the original west-facing deck that opens off the dining and family room to create a large space for outdoor entertaining.
An abundance of storage cupboards, shelves and wardrobes has also been a blessing for the couple who are both keen collectors of crockery.
The challenge now they are ready to downsize, and not be tied to house and garden maintenance, is where to put all of those beloved collectibles.