By Graham Hepburn

Finding the right site was paramount when Ian and Rosalind Miller decided to build a home near Matakana village.

They spent a lot of time looking at land before they bought 450 Matakana Rd in 1999.

"This was the first one we looked at and 30 properties later we came back to it," says Ian.

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Rosalind says: "It was a cattle-pugged bog but for us it ticked a lot of boxes: great views, north-facing, sheltered from the southwesterly, short driving distance to all the attractions of the Matakana Coast, and halfway between the villages of Matakana and Warkworth.

"We had always wanted a restoration project and we believed we could turn this messy land into a beautiful property in a far better condition than we found it."

That was the long-term aim but the short term one was getting a house built. The Millers enlisted architectural designer Brian Goodwin to help with a house that would "blend into the bush backdrop".

The single level cedar home has a simple gabled roofline with exposed beams in the open plan living area, which has easy access to the covered decks on the east, west and north sides. From here you can view the lawns, garden beds, ponds and bush.

An adjoining kitchen/dining area with matai floors also opens to the deck. Down the hallway and opposite the main bathroom is a large office with views over the property.

Occupying the rear of the house gives the master suite its own private wing with walk-in wardrobe, en suite and doors out to a covered deck on the eastern side of the house.

Over the years, the Millers have established areas of regenerating bush and wetland.

"With expert help and advice from ecological, restoration and geology personnel we tamed the stormwater, springs and weeds by creating buffer ponds and wetlands adjacent to the QEII protected bush on our boundary," says Rosalind.

"We planted thousands of native trees, shrubs and grasses and along with our like-minded neighbours maintained a continuous pest destruction exercise."

The couple also ran a successful B&B, using the standalone accommodation over the garage.

"The garage and the accommodation above were designed as a separate unit because that is where we lived while the rest of the house was built," says Ian.

"And the B&B started after a chance conversation with Darryl Soljan when Ascension Winery started having functions and he mentioned to us that there was a problem with accommodation in the area.

"We ran the B&B for about 12 years up to about three years ago and we had high occupancy."

So new owners will have an enviable lifestyle as well as the chance to earn some income.

Rosalind says: "We have loved living here with our free-range hens, Jess the border collie, and our flock of nine tame sheep.

"We have watched Matakana and Warkworth go from sleepy to vibrant; it is so good to have only a three-minute drive to the movies or restaurant and eight minutes to the yacht club."

Ian will miss his man cave, aka the barn, which sits behind the house, but as he points out: "It seems to be the right time; we are getting older.

"We've bought the worst house in the best street in Snells Beach and we've moved it off so we're getting underway on that."

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