By Ricardo Simich & Kirsty Wynn

When Sir John Key retired as Prime Minister he revealed he would eventually trade his stately Parnell mansion in for a smaller place - and he has delivered.

The sprawling Auckland pad that has been the site of family celebrations, high profile political meet-and-greets and Instagram-worthy pool parties has been sold.

The Weekend Herald understands Sir John and Lady Bronagh Key sold their family home in the past two months - for an estimated $20m.


The six bedroom home in the most exclusive corner of Parnell is spread across three original sections - a total of 2340 sq m of perfectly manicured land.

It is understood the couple have retained roughly a 650 sq m slice - currently a tennis/basketball court - for a future home.

That relatively small chunk of Parnell realty alone is estimated to be worth more than $5m.

Reports from Auckland Council show the land is in the mixed housing suburban zone of the Unitary Plan Operative in Part which means a two-level dwelling could be built.

It is understood high-profile real estate agent Graham Wall was the agent behind the sale and renowned architect Lawrence Sumich will design the Keys' future home.

Neither Graham Wall nor Lawrence Sumich would comment on the sale or a possible future build.

But a real estate industry source said the 763 sq m house and about 1650 sq m of land with a large pool house and in-ground pool was sold to a buyer in China last month.

The sparkling pool is instantly recognisable as the backdrop for son Max Key's many video blogs, music videos and viral photos of his famous dad.


Max Key opened the doors of the white weatherboard mansion to the online public many times through his numerous vlogs and photos.

Online videos show him chatting in the bathroom the day his father officially left Parliament in March, skateboarding around the tennis court and racing his green Kawasaki motorbike up and down the exclusive leafy avenue with friends.

An aerial view of the house of former PM Sir John Key's house which has recently been sold. Photo / Doug Sherring
An aerial view of the house of former PM Sir John Key's house which has recently been sold. Photo / Doug Sherring

Photos of Sir John poolside at home with his aspiring DJ son dabbing, planking and flipping into the water have been regular social media posts.

The Keys moved into the Parnell home around 2002.

There are no property records for that sale but data from QV show three sections are bundled together with a July 2014 valuation of $13m.

Since that date Parnell valuations have risen 34.1 per cent which would give the house a more current valuation of around $17.5m - not including improvements.

The latest E-Valuer data in the NZ Herald Property Report published on Monday shows the median value in Parnell was $1,626,300 in June this year.

Values increased 6 per cent in the year to September 1 which is slightly higher than the average for the Auckland region.

The Property Report showed Parnell values had increased around 48 per cent or $749,335 in the three years since June 2014 from a median value of $912,000 to $1,626,300.

Neighbouring houses have sold for upward of $7m.

Andrea Rush from QV - who did not know of the sale - said the most expensive areas of Parnell were those around Judges Bay and St Stephens Ave where larger established homes have views over the Waitemata Harbour.

"Homes closest to the town centre tend to be on smaller sections and many do not have off-street parking which keeps values a little lower than some of the larger sites with sea views," she said.

"Parnell also has a lot of apartments which keeps the median value a little lower as apartments tend to sell at lower prices than stand-alone homes."

The Keys have hosted many significant birthday celebrations at the lavish home and have been known to welcome neighbourhood kids up the drive for lollies on Halloween.

The house was the Monday night venue for the National Party "tight five" political meetings and a rousing haka was performed outside the wrought iron gates for a victorious Sir John in 2014.

But the home has also been the site of protests - most recently a rally against the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) bill and snapper quotas.

It was even subject to a break-in when Sir John was leader of the opposition. Last year at a press conference he recounted the incident which saw him rush down the stairs at 3am, yelling to scare a burglar.

Sir John said the intruder ran as soon as he saw him. The police "turned up with an Alsatian" in a matter of minutes, but couldn't catch the man.

The Keys are currently on holiday in Europe. They did not respond to an email from the Weekend Herald about the sale of their house, in time for publication.