Ann Fernyhough has many happy memories of long, sun-kissed holidays spent on Moturoa Island in the Bay of Islands, just 15 minutes by boat from Paihia.

"My parents owned a share of the island, along with 21 other shareholders, and in 1983 the house was built for us," she says.

"The project was a true family affair with everybody pitching in to clear the land, in order for construction to begin."

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The house was designed by David Armstrong, an architect well-known for his love of wood. He took inspiration from houses he'd seen in South America and was pleased to have the chance to recreate some of their features.

"I think the end product is a really wonderful mix of timber," says Ann.

"There's lots of cedar with kwila floors, kauri joinery and Oregon pine beams. The smell of the different woods throughout is so nice and welcoming. The interior always has a lovely warm glow about it, whatever the weather's like outside."

The living room, dining area and kitchen are essentially one large entity with built-in furniture and an open fireplace with exposed bricks.

"Those bricks were recycled and I spent days outside, with my mother, cleaning them off with a hammer and chisel," says Ann.

Two bedrooms lie downstairs, and upstairs on the mezzanine floor, there is room for four beds.

"It hasn't been uncommon to have two families, with kids, here in summer and if a couple of them sleep on the window seats in the living room, the house can easily take 10 people," Ann says.

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While the dwelling looks rustic, it's always been very well cared for and has recently had a new roof installed. The cedar cladding was found to need protection from the elements so it has been painted in black and white while, over the years, the wraparound decking has been extended — and there's also a tiled patio and easy-care native plantings.

With a tractor shed and storage for boats and kayaks, this is the ideal base for an outdoorsy family. Ann says that there is always lots to do on the 147ha island.

"The nice thing is that, as shareholders, we've all got to know each other very well over the years and it's great coming back each holiday season and catching up."

The owners all have the use of a 1950s farm shed by the wharf, which contains a billiard table and old couches. There's also a cottage which sleeps eight and is rented out.

Shareholders get a special rate if they need it for additional guest accommodation.

While the house and the island are beautiful at any time of year, Ann says that everything comes alive in summer.

"There is an annual tennis tournament, and a fishing contest for the kids. Whoever gets the prize for the biggest sprat wins a special cup. It's always lots of fun."

Ann's a keen runner and her favourite circuit takes her along the ridgeline and back with fantastic views all the way.

She says that with Moturoa Island being a wildlife sanctuary, everybody has rallied to keep it that way. "Naturally it means no dogs, and there's been great success with a kiwi breeding programme. At night you can hear their calls as they rustle around."

There has also been an extensive planting programme, which aims to regenerate the native bush on the island.

"What I love about it is that Moturoa never changes. After 30 years, I still enjoy coming here. However, as a family we're all quite far-flung now, so it's time to move on."

LOT 11 MOTUROA ISLAND, KERIKERI, FAR NORTH
• 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 0 parking spaces.
• Land 1000sq m, house 180sq m.
• Sale price: $1.2 million.
• Inspect: By arrangement.
• Contact: Irene Bremner, Bayleys, 021 190 2090, bayleys.co.nz/1685328