Laurie and Ann Franks bought their one hectare lifestyle property off landscape gardeners so there are a lot of mature trees that provide a great canopy for the birdlife.

"We've got tuis and a couple of resident wood pigeons that go through," says Ann.

"There's a big pond there that the kingfishers love to try and get the goldfish."

There are quail and they have even had a pheasant roosting in the trees.

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Levi Strauss, the miniature donkey, lives in one of the four paddocks along with his miniature horse pals and over the years the family have had lambs and goats.

Says Laurie: "We've been out here 17 years and we just love the place."

Patumahoe is only five minutes from Pukekohe, so along with the peace and tranquillity of their rural haven they also have shops close by.

"It's pretty awesome because it's a neat place to go, there's everything over at Pukekohe," says Laurie.

Patumahoe village is also great, the couple say. There's a bar and grill, a big Four Square store and a hotel, plus a good cafe.

"It's like a little backwater - but it's not really, if you know what I mean," says Laurie.

"It's quite modern. The bar and grill, that's pretty upmarket and, you know, it's cool. It's a nice community, no question."

Ann, too, says there's a lovely community spirit in the small township, which is only 15 minutes to the motorway.

"We've got a fire brigade and at Christmas time they always come up the road and have Santa dressed up in the front dolling out lollies to all the kids up the street, so that's pretty neat."

They are also not far from Kariotahi Beach on the West Coast and sometimes drive out to Kawakawa Bay.

Laurie and Ann had a cut flower business in Drury but when they gave that up they didn't move far because they love the countryside.

With six children (four together and two from Laurie's former relationship), the roomy two-level house has been wonderful for family life - plus there is a second dwelling on the property.

That has been well-used by the children but could also be used as a rental or holiday accommodation, they say.

Ann says the children were involved in calf club so there have been myriad animals over the years.

"It's been a great property because it's nice and flat. There's four paddocks, there's heaps of mature trees the kids have been able to play in.

"One of the real estate agents said to Laurie as he was going through, 'Oh, there's a surprise around every corner' and that's quite correct.

"There's a path through the garden and you go past the big pond and there's a gazebo and big trees and you come out onto a nice lawn.

"I remember our first Christmas we had a picnic out on the lawn under the big trees so we've been really spoilt actually."

Ann, a nurse, has spent hours out in the garden saying she often walks there before coming inside.

She also loves the big kitchen they renovated, and the huge upstairs master bedroom with the big windows looking out over the garden.

Laurie and Ann will be sad to leave, but it's time to retire and they are heading north to Matapouri Bay and sea views.

Levi Strauss, the little donkey, will be going with them. Ann says she told the real estate agent all she required was a view - and room for the donkey.

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