Back in 1998, when Trevor and Clare Lindon were working long hours in the city, they decided they needed a beachside bolthole.
But they didn't want to spend hours in the car, so instead they drew a circle of spots within an easy 40 minutes' drive from their house, and began the search. They really had no idea what they might find.
"We drove to the end of Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and there was the last privately owned site on the sea, right next to Shakespear regional park," says Trevor. "We bought it in less than a week."
The huge property — over 1500sq m — had bush and cliffs down to the sea (access is up the road via the park or Army Bay) and a two-bedroomed 1970s cottage.
The couple and growing family (now adults, with children of their own) enjoyed the simple beach life, one son launching his fishing boat from Army Bay's ramp, Clare walking every inch of the nearby park. "It's fantastic, such an asset," she says.
By 2005, they were ready to build a proper house, subdividing the property into two sections (the front property has not been built on and is also for sale).
They wanted something they could eventually settle in for longer periods than just holidays, that could easily be opened up when the four children and their families stay (grandchildren aged from 17 to 2) or closed down when it was just them in winter.
Their brief to architect Mel Bartleet was open: a house that capitalised on the views that stretch from Rangitoto to Kawau Island, Barrier in the background, outdoor areas that provided shelter from sun or rain, a pool.
Mel's wife Trish Bartleet was commissioned to create a natural garden that complemented the native trees already on the site.
The couple wheeled in 12cu m of bark and planted dozens of shrubs and trees for the more structured planting at the front and the softer sweeps edging the back lawn.
Mel's pool, with a point like a boat's bow, is an infinity one, the lawn is edged with flaxes to further blur the lines with the cliff-edge bush.
The two-storey house is organised around a central double-height living room with a feature of concrete block wall and cabinets that wrap around the fireplace.
Louvred sliding walls allow the adjoining rooms — a media room to one side, the kitchen dining to the other — to be opened up or closed off, and on the upper floor bedrooms can be opened or closed to the action.
Walls of sliding glass open the living to the deck, pool and spa pool, with glass balustrades to retain those views.
A covered dining area is the prime summer spot, exceeding the couple's expectations for how easy it is to use, with people often choosing to sleep on the decks on balmy summer nights.
The back bedrooms benefit from walls of exterior louvres for privacy and sun control — curtains aren't needed in this house. Wood floors in the living rooms, tiles in the bathrooms and carpet in the bedrooms are easy care.
Bartleet's design was careful to aid air flow, with banks of opening louvres to bring in breezes when the large sliders can't be opened. In good weather, the entire ground floor is opened up for easy living between indoors and out.
The couple love the house in a storm, watching the sea and thunder.
The kitchen Mel specified was ahead of its time, with its central island bar, wall of storage, and a floating sideboard for the dining room.
The bathrooms were also detailed by the architect. And the underpinnings of the house ( piles into the ground, concrete block and tilt slab) and electronics (security system, vacuum system, Cat 5 voice and data cabling) have stood the test of time.
The couple are selling to set off in new directions, but are in two minds about letting their special place go.
"We were thinking should we or shouldn't we, but we want to go to some new places. We've had great times here," says Trevor.