Looking down the drive towards Guy and Miluska Matches' Ramarama home, you could believe you were about to book into a tropical resort.
Built in 2001 and originally owned by Sir Bob Kerridge, the house sits in a nest of exotic palms and cycads, rimmed by native bush, on a 1.5 ha site just 25 minutes from the city. The resort look is further enhanced by the choice of materials - cedar and Monotec cladding, copper spouting and downpipes, shingle roof, schist detailing, and a freeform pool right outside the living area.
The pool was a major attraction for the couple, who bought the house five years ago to enjoy a peaceful, semi-rural lifestyle.
"We had been living in Orakei in a terraced townhouse that was on three levels, and we wanted a one-level home because we had a small child at that time," Miluska says. "There wasn't much outdoor space either, just a balcony and a bit of grass at the bottom."
When they first saw the Ramarama house, both were instantly attracted by the privacy of the location, particularly as it was only two minutes from the motorway - important for Guy whose business is in the city.
And the amount of land that came with the house gave it added value.
And then there was that pool. Designed by Nigel Donaldson, it's edged with rocks to integrate it into the bush surroundings. The steps down into it are paved with random pieces of stone, echoing the schist that has been used for detailing on various parts of the house. It's surrounded by spacious decks, and a small stream trickles through the bush alongside.
"This is a fantastic house for entertaining and we've had some great parties here," Miluska says. "It's so secluded the neighbours don't really hear anything. It's hard to believe that we have neighbours - you'd never know it."
Although most of the outdoor living happens on the deck, there are areas of garden for those who enjoy pottering. But it's largely easy care with the majority planted in mature specimens.
"The garden was all in place when we bought the house so there was nothing to do outside," Miluska says. "Inside, we just did some cosmetic stuff to put our mark on it."
That included for the living area a beautiful chandelier, which she bought to replace "a hideous arty space lamp". The chandelier now competes for attention with the lodge-style schist fireplace - a focal point of the room. "When that's cranked up and going, it's fantastic," she says.
Those are two things high on the couple's "will miss" list. They've also enjoyed the space in this house with its four bedrooms, three bathrooms and office, and both casual and formal living areas. Pitched ceilings, wide hallways and bifold windows and doors also add to the sense of space.
There's more living space over the three-car garage, where Guy, a builder, installed a loft complete with kitchen and bathroom.
"And I'll miss the privacy," Miluska says. "It's been a very peaceful, quiet place to live."