Darren Diack has to ring his kids to find out where they are because of the sheer size of the family's "mansion on the hill".

The magnificent homestead was built in two parts, he says, with the two-storey northern wing constructed in 1870 and the middle and southern wings added in the early 1900s.

With six bedrooms, four bathrooms, six toilets and five lounges "it's a monster - yeah, it's big", Darren says.

"We had four kids under 10 eight years ago and we wanted a six-bedroom house so we could have a spare room and a bedroom each. And we wanted to be on Napier Hill."


The family were already living on the hill but in a smaller house. They moved when this one, called Cobden Villa, became available.

Darren, wife Cosette and the children loved the space and size. Darren says the house has a lot of character and a great feel to it.

"It's just so big, like, the kids literally get lost in it. You know, now we ring the kids at the other end of the house.

"We had to negotiate hard to get the house and when it went unconditional I texted my wife and said 'you're now the owner of a mansion on the hill'."

The house has undergone a few transformations in its lifetime.

It was built by the Williams family, Darren says, who had the Williams & Kettle farming business.

"Back in 1870, you know, the reason this is so big is they had servants."

When his family bought the house, it was set up as a B&B that slept eight and had three kitchens.

"We've reconverted it back into a family home over the last eight years."

Darren, who has a construction company, says the house has been well looked after by all the owners over the years.

"I think every owner has added something to it; and we've added more to it again."

The people who turned it into the B&B were into Art Deco, which Napier is famous for, and themed the house that way. However, when they sold it, the new owners kept the B&B but removed many Art Deco features.

Some remain, though, Darren says, such as the Art Deco stained glass windows and some door handles.

Because the house is on the hill, it combines privacy with 180 degree views, looking out to Cape Kidnappers and over the estuary, he says.

The house has a high stud throughout and Darren thinks the weatherboard is rimu. There is still some of the original matai timber flooring but the family also modernised with tiles and carpet.

"We also put a heated pool in, an outdoor pool in the courtyard at the back of the house."

It's a great house for hide and seek, he says, and the hallway is "massive" - it's about 2m wide and 15m long.

They put in a designer kitchen, a scullery and laundry and there is plenty of heating, including underfloor heating in the bathrooms, two wood burners, an open fire and a heat pump.

Darren says as the house is fully insulated so once it heats up, it stays warm.

The location is also great with Napier's CBD only a three-minute drive away.

The family have enjoyed the house immensely but the children are leaving home now and the house is too big for only Darren and Cosette.

So, the couple are going to move from their mansion on the hill and build a smaller house.

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