When Gillian Beal first saw photographs on the internet of a property for sale in Mangatangi she didn't like it, but reality proved the camera can lie.
"The pictures made it look awful, but we were driving by one day and decided we'd go and see it anyway."
Gillian was firstly captivated by the panoramic views over the surrounding countryside with the Firth of Thames and Hunua Ranges in the distance.
"It was designed and built by the previous owners and it's architecturally very different," she says.
The four-bedroom weatherboard house has curved roofs and a wraparound deck accessed by bi-fold doors from most rooms. With open-plan dining, living and kitchen areas, two bathrooms and an internal access double garage, it was a far cry from the two-bedroom cottage where Gillian and her husband had been living.
There's a spacious entry foyer with a tiled floor and an inset of deco-style glass bricks that opens into the kitchen, dining and living room. The sitting area also has an inset of glass bricks in a curved wall.
The big kitchen has modern, stainless steel appliances and white cabinetry, which shows off the cherry-red splashback. Timber floors, chandeliers and ceiling fans are other features of the space.
The bedrooms on this level have large built-in wardrobes and there's a tiled bathroom.
Gill's favourite space is the master suite, which, she says, is like having a second living area upstairs. "I think it's really the main feature of the house," she says.
It has a big, walk-in wardrobe and a tiled bathroom with a curved glass shower and a spa-bath, and the views are spectacular.
"It's great to lie in bed up here and watch the sunset, followed by the lights on the Coromandel."
Because there was absolutely no work to be done in the main house, Gill gave her attention to the separate sleepout, gutting it, adding a kitchen and renovating the space.
The original idea was to run it as a B&B but it became an ideal self-contained guest unit for their many visitors. Downstairs there's an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area, and a bedroom and bathroom with a private deck. Another large bedroom upstairs has its own veranda.
The 20ha block has been ideal for Gill's hobby of breeding donkeys. She has rare heritage donkeys from Ponui Island — New Zealand's only feral donkey breed. They are descendants of three animals imported from Australia in the 1880s.
There's also a miniature horse, gifted to Gill by a neighbour.
The fenced land consists of easy to rolling terrain with some steep contour, and is suitable for dry stock or heifer grazing. Improvements include a three-bay implement shed with yard and loading race.
Beyond the property there is plenty of scope for recreation. The Maramarua Golf Club is about 20 minutes' drive, as are the hot springs in Miranda. Everyday amenities are available in Pukekohe and Ngatea just under 40km away.
729 KAIAUA RD, MANGATANGI
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 20.59ha, house 275sq m.
• Sale price: RV $1,250,000.
• Inspect: Today by appointment.
• Auction: July 12.
• Schools: Mangatangi Primary School, Hauraki Plains College.
• Contact: Karl Davis, Bayleys, 027 496 4633, bayleys.co.nz/814397