One of the perks of living close to the sea is being able to keep an eye on your kids while they are swimming.

That was the case for Lesley Shields when her two sons went swimming at Wood Bay.

Because the beach is calm and tidal, the kids could go a long way out but Lesley would always keep an eye on them from her elevated house.

She says: "When they would go swimming we had a bell that we would ring to tell them they were going too far out - it was much better than yelling out at them."


Her two boys taking to the water by themselves was all part of the apron strings loosening as they got older.

"When they were little they would be riding their bikes around on the deck; I couldn't see them but I could always hear them," says Lesley.

"When they got older they would go down into the bush and make huts."

And from the bottom of the bush section they had access to the beach.

It was exactly the sort of kids' paradise that Lesley and husband Ken had in mind when they bought this house in 1980, after searching for nine months.

"I remember we walked down the path and thought, 'This looks interesting'," she says. "By the time we got to the entranceway we thought, 'This is our new house'."

It's easy to see why as the split-level stucco home is nestled in a quiet bush setting with sea views to the rear.

It is tucked down below the road with a winding path through mature trees bringing you to the front door.

The concrete home with tile roof was built in 1953 and originally had other character features such as arched doorways and wrought iron gates and railings.

From the foyer you can head left down a hallway that winds past two bedrooms and a bathroom and down stairs to a laundry and out to the large lower deck.

On the bottom level there is another bedroom before you reach the games room with pool table.

If you move upstairs from the foyer you reach the galley kitchen that precedes the main living area, which opens out to the upper deck.

Lesley says she prefers to have the kitchen separate to the dining area so she doesn't have to worry about tidying up, and she enjoys presenting meals to guests.

Heated by a woodburner, the main living area has an adjoining dining space as well as a sunroom and a snug with built-in window seat and sea views.

With a north-easterly aspect, the home captures sun as well as views of the Manukau Harbour - best seen from the upstairs deck.

Off the living space, the master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and en suite.

Lesley says she and Ken have improved the home over the years by lightening the decor and renovating the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as adding the lower deck and landscaping.

They have also started renovating the 1920s bach that is part of the property and sits below their house.

Lesley says it would have originally been a holiday home back in the days when this area was considered remote, and had an outside toilet and laundry.

You go past the bach and a petanque area to get to the beach via steps and paths that Ken has put in.

The couple also added a gate at the bottom to stop people wandering up from the beach.

With two entrances, and separate hot water cylinders and power meters, the house could be divided into two to provide home and income for new owners.

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