James Davies wasn't a gardening person until he and his wife Flick bought their country home. Now they love seeing the changes that come with each season.
"There's always something coming out; wisteria, star jasmine or magnolias," says James.
"In autumn,the trees are spectacular.
"The redwoods look magnificent when you're coming in the driveway and cross a little stream, which winds around the property.
"And as well as all the lovely hedging there's an orchard with plums, apples and citrus, plus a kitchen vegetable garden.
"The previous people had made a great job of developing and planting it and we've enjoyed all the benefits."
Set within the generous 3.226 ha section, the solid concrete house with cedar cladding was designed by award-winning architect Ken Crossan, and James and Flick were immediately attracted to the simplicity of its layout.
"The kitchen, dining and living areas are massive and on a summer day with all the doors and windows open, the flow between inside and out is just perfect," says James.
He adds that the wraparound patio and extensive decking provide lots of options in terms of eating, entertaining and relaxing, moving around according to where the sun is best at any particular time.
The large master bedroom has its own bathroom, with another double bedroom next door and they both look out onto yet another patio, with views to the garden beyond.
Also on this floor is the internal access double garage (there's also another separate double on the property), the handy big laundry, and lots of storage space.
On the upper level lie three more bedrooms, one of which could be an office, and a family bathroom, plus toilet.
James and Flick had an LG 4.8 kw solar system installed on the roof and James estimates that it's meeting about half their energy needs.
"If we bought a battery I think that we'd be close to self-sufficient," he says. "It's an added bonus having a deep bore water system with carbon filter, which means that the water we use is crystal clear and pure — and it never runs out."
The Davies also added two heat pumps, in addition to Jetmaster heating in the living areas, but James says that having so many windows, the house is seldom in need of extra heating.
"I can also say that it's a very good place for a party. We had daughter Sophia's 21st here and it was great, with plenty of room for everybody."
Although their home is close to the Bombay off-ramp, for easy commuting, the family is planning to move a bit closer to the city as Sophia needs live-in assistance, following a serious horse-riding accident.
Since arriving here at Mill Rd, James, who works in the foreign exchange sector, and Flick, a makeup artist, have quickly come to enjoy what he describes as a peaceful, private spot, with the convenience of having the shops, cafes and other amenities of fast-growing Pukekohe less than 10 minutes' drive away. James takes the motorway to work in the city and generally he gets a good run.
He says that they have only a couple of near neighbours, including NZ Hothouse, a specialist tomato grower.
"We share part of the driveway with them and they've been great at looking after it."
"I think what we'll miss most about living here are the views towards the harbour and out to the Waitakeres and the fantastic sunsets."
185 MILL RD, PUKEKOHE EAST
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 3 parking spaces.
• Land 3.2256ha, house 270sq m.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 3.30-4pm.
• Schools: Bombay School, Pukekohe High School.
• Contact: Scott McElhinney, Barfoot & Thompson, 027 210 8887, barfoot.co.nz/758917