By Donna McIntyre
Every day for nine years Jim and Heather Akehurst have pinched themselves that they are living on the waterfront in the middle of Auckland.
They are not the only ones who think their apartment on level two at Lighter Quay is a slice of paradise.
"People come into our apartment and say wow, and then they see the view and say wow again," says Heather.
The couple are only the second owners of this northeast-facing unit in the Stratis block. They chose this level as Jim, a boatie, wanted to be near the ground and look directly out at the boats.
"And we like having the foreground, a middle ground and a background," she says referring to the footpath, the Viaduct and the cityscape.
"We get joggers, people walking with their kids, and then we have the boats. It is always changing. And we have the city by day and night, and when the lights come on," says Jim.
They have also enjoyed the complex's pool and sauna, and being close to the cafes at the nearby Sofitel hotel and Wynyard Quarter.
They have been privy to significant events... the America's Cup team on parade, and Sir Peter Blake's son when his team completed its endurance row across the Tasman.
"And people book a seat here to watch the fireworks," says Heather, indicating the great view of the Sky Tower.
The couple bought this apartment as their city pad prior to retiring.
"We went down from two cars to one as we could walk everywhere," says Jim.
As you come into their apartment, the open-plan living area includes a new kitchen the couple have put in. They replaced the stainless-steel benches with stone tops, adding soft-closing drawers, Fisher & Paykel oven, induction hobs and extractor fan, on one side and the island bench that has a Miele dishwasher.
Along the hallway are the two bedrooms facing the Viaduct. The couple elected to replace roller blinds with venetians in the bedrooms to better control sunlight and privacy.
Their main bedroom is at the end of the hallway. In the second bedroom, they have a piano and a fold-down bed/desk arrangement. The bathroom is beautifully tiled, and the laundry is hidden behind doors in the hallway.
"And we have more storage with our car park," says Heather.
There's a heat pump in the lounge; outside on the lanai they have an alcohol-fuelled fireplace.
They use the vinyl-floored lanai a lot as the floor-to-ceiling glass doors allow them to close this area up in winter; in summer it can be opened like a veranda. The glass finish they chose allows them to see out, but passers-by can't see in.
They say there's a mix of ages and stages - singles and couples, families and retirees throughout the one, two and three-bedroom apartments.
The apartments are leasehold, something the couple say is a given if you want to live on the water's edge in the Viaduct area.
"It comes up very seven years for review and it's mediated," says Jim.
After almost a decade, the couple are reluctantly selling, and knowing it will be sold soon, Heather says they have been treasuring every moment.
"Every evening we have a glass of wine. And we have been taking video, like the time Team New Zealand came; we have our memories."