Take me down to the river

By Kate Williams

87 KINGS RD, PANMURE
5
3
2
SIZE: Land 3693sq m, main house 458sq m.
SECOND PROPERTY: Two-bedroom 160sq m cottage with one bathroom.
TENDER CLOSES: October 17 (unless sold prior).
PRICE INDICATION: $4.5 million-plus.
ON THE WEB: barfoot.co.nz/506214
CONTACT: Leila MacDonald, Barfoot & Thompson, ph 021 928 926.
FEATURES: Spacious architect-designed home with riparian rights on the river at Panmure Basin. Water views from every room, generous living spaces, indoor-outdoor dining pavilion, with swimming pool and jetty to the water. Separate two-bedroom cottage, stand-alone gym/flat. First time on the market since 1925.
87 Kings Road, Panmure. Photo / Ted Baghurst
87 Kings Road, Panmure. Photo / Ted Baghurst

It is hard to conceive what the stretches of the Tamaki Estuary would have looked like when Ant Laity's grandfather bought his riverside spread in 1925 for his new bride.

Grandfather Ted was a keen fisherman and sailor so the location, then surrounded by market gardens, was the ideal country respite from the bustle of Newmarket.

The river had always been a key transport route - there is still a pub up at the corner of Kings and Queens roads - and the property was even bigger than it is today.

When Ant's parents took over the land, they subdivided and added a smaller cottage for their grandparents.

Ant and his wife started their married life in the cottage, but 21 years ago it became apparent they needed a bigger house for their growing family.

"The architect wanted to site the house in the middle of the property," says Ant. "But I kept coming down to the river, asking why not build as close to the river as possible? When we built in 1996 we could place the property 13m from the high water mark."

The design brief was simple. The family wanted to see the river from every room. They achieved that - even the bathrooms have river views, although Ant jokes that one bedroom's water view is actually the swimming pool.

The two-storeyed cedar-clad house was built in two stages, starting with the main living area and three bedrooms.

A second series of living rooms and two more bedrooms were added in 2002 and more upgrades, to the decor, kitchen and bathrooms, were made last year.

From the massive copper front door and ship-shape styling of the galley kitchen with its jarrah benches, to the mixture of recycled rimu and macrocarpa in the ceilings and floors, this is a carefully crafted house.

The kitchen has two ovens, dishwashers and stoves to indulge Ant's love of cooking.

His sister, designer Veryan Laity helped with the attractive detailing.

Ant reckons one of the best additions to the house is the summer room pavilion. With its doors that slide away to open up to the lawn and river on one side, pool on the other, big wood fire and giant table, it is a magnet for kids, family and friends who gather there.

A launch and a racing sail boat are tied up at the jetty at the bottom of the garden. The lawn is a great spot for summer cricket.

With decks and courtyards at every turn, there is always a place for quiet contemplation of the view or to enjoy festive crowds around a dining table.

The subtropical landscaping that attracts plenty of birdlife just adds to the resort feel of this waterfront property.

Ant admits that at weekends it is hard to leave. They all just tend to hunker down in their own little spot - just as Granddad had imagined.

The family is obviously fond of an open fire. There are three - but Ant laments the children make themselves scarce during the "stacking of the wood" when the annual trailerload of fuel is delivered to the property.

But the house works hard, too. The home office is large enough for two, with a charming window nook framing yet another of those views of the river.

The master suite upstairs also has tree-framed views, while children and guests are comfortably accommodated in good-size bedrooms.

But, with Ant travelling so much for his export business, the family has decided it is time to move from the huge estuary-side estate to something a bit smaller, so this country spread in the middle of Auckland is up for sale.

- NZ Herald

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