Their retirement home was built, the gardens landscaped. All Penny Kidd had left to do was to convince her husband Stuart to stop working.

The couple had an apartment in Herne Bay, close to Stuart's Auckland work but they had bought this 1.5ha block of land for their permanent retirement home. The plan was to move there after selling their holiday place at Ti Point near Leigh.

The land at Matakana was part of a new subdivision that had been farmland. "Our Ti Point section was quite steep and we decided that, long term, it wasn't a good idea," says Penny.

"There weren't many subdivisions at that stage; that was 15 years ago. And we were out looking and found this. It was what we wanted, so we bought it. "I liked gardening and Stuart wanted to have a bit more land. We are down the end of a big right of way, so we are nowhere near the traffic. We are private and quiet.

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"Also, we are five minutes from Warkworth and three minutes from Matakana. We chose Matakana because it was just starting to take off as a little village — and it had a nice feel about it."

The couple planted on the section for a couple of years before they built. "I had read something in a gardening book where a couple had done that," says Penny. "Planting takes a long time to mature. By the time the house goes up, you are starting to get some structure in your section.

"We knew where this house was going to sit because it is on a flat section on the highest point of the land. We planted a lot of natives, deciduous and conifers."

For the house design, they used architect Tony Davis, whose office is in Mt Eden.

"We wanted pitches and angles. I didn't want just a block. I wanted something that had a bit of interest," says Penny.

"It took 18 months to build it within the three years of us planting. We moved in about 13 years ago.

"It was always intended as a home, I just had to wait for my husband to stop working and retire."

Their four-bedroom house is built of Linea; roofing is Elk tiles; and gutters, soakers and downpipes are copper.

At one end of the home are the master bedroom and en suite, and a single bedroom.

Next to that is the formal lounge with the wood fire, dining, the hall and front door.

On the other end of the lounge are the kitchen, dining and a small family TV area, and then two more bedrooms, bathroom and laundry.

Stuart and Penny have added a sunroom next to the garage.

"The sunroom is warm and full of sun all day. It has huge windows and you see all the garden. We have entertained in there; we have had about 40 people for lunch.

"The house is a good for entertaining, we have had 60, 70 people here and it is not crowded. You can open it all up and it all interconnects."

At the end of the hallway there's a double garage and a workshop where Stuart parks his tractor. "Off that, we built a huge carport, big enough to take a bus. We have a boat in there and it has a concrete floor and is undercover."

And the two outdoor areas get lots of use when their four children and 11 grandchildren visit.

The couple enjoy watching the birdlife their garden attracts. "I think we counted up to 26 different types of birds, quail, pheasants, tui, woodpigeons because we have so many trees. It is so peaceful.

"Our views are our garden; we are tucked under the Heron's Flight vineyard, although you don't see it. That is why we did the garden; we don't have sea view as we are on the flat," says Penny.

"It is lovely in the summer and also in the autumn because we have a lot of oaks and liquidambars, which give us amazing colours."

They spend a lot of time in their garden. Stuart goes fishing, they have a dog and they tend to be busy with their grandchildren.

But now they are selling.

"We just don't need a house this size any more. We are in our 70s and there comes a point where the house needs a family, someone to enjoy the entertaining areas and we don't do that as much now."

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