When Erica Alderton's mum rang her overseas, telling her this Ararimu property was too good to miss, Erica knew she could trust her mother's judgment.

"At the time we were living in Dubai. We had Monty, he was very young then, and we wanted to come home to spend time with our family."

Erica and husband Dean bought the lifestyle property seven and a half years ago. Their family has now grown to five with the arrival of Harry, now 5, and Grace, 20 months old.

"I knew the area because I had done so much research," says Erica. "I would have looked at at least 40 properties. I came back to New Zealand twice.

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"I like villa-type homes even though this is more a bungalow. It has a lot of old features.

And I could see the land would be good for horses. The land was like a blank canvas.

"The home has such a lovely feel. There are four good-sized bedrooms at one end plus another by the entrance. It is great for a young family because all the bedrooms are close.
And there is so much natural light."

The family returned to New Zealand and started on improvements on the wooden bungalow, moved here when the land was subdivided from its original purpose as a dairy farm. Period details include the ceiling roses, exposed beams, leadlight and bay windows and window seats.

They added a new kitchen from Carlyle Kitchens in Pukekohe, new laminate flooring from Vienna Woods in Newmarket.

"That is perfect for us with kids and being on a farm and having a dog. It stands up to the wear and tear.

"And we repainted the interior; that was more a cosmetic thing. We repainted the main living area and hallway and front room in Resene Wheatfield in various shades, from full to a quarter. It has worked well. I love it because our house is white but a warm white and it works well with the flooring."

Out the back they added a large covered deck with Louvretec roof and outdoor entertaining area. Living areas plus some of the bedrooms open out to this deck.

"We got Roy Tebbutt of Strachan Group Architects to design it and he came up with this cool idea.

"We also had the new joinery on the deck side, so we can open all the doors on this side to the deck in summer.

"The garden area out the back used to drop down to the paddocks so we raised those grounds and put in a ha-ha — or a retaining wall — and redesigned it. We wanted a flat area off the back so the children could play.

"The garden is beautiful and we need only to get out in it every three months and give it a
blitz. That's all down to the person who designed the garden, Rachel Williams, who has won a whole bunch of awards."

For her horses, Erica — a dedicated eventer — organised the building of stables, day yards, tack room, three-bay utility shed and 70 x 40 all-weather arena.

"I have a lot of clinics here and everyone raves about it," she said.

As well as riding, the family love to go to the Hunua Ranges. Sometimes Erica will take the children to the waterfalls for a picnic lunch. It's only about 10 minutes in the car.

"I have ridden in the ranges and there's a lot of mountain biking there, walking and trail running.

"Dean is a surfer and he goes to Kariotahi by Waiuku for surfing. If you have a boat, you can go to Clevedon and Kawakawa Bay. And there is a lot of road cycling through Hunua and Clevedon."

The couple are selling because they have bought a home with a layout that will allow their parents to live with them.

"We did have plans to do up this property to achieve that but now we have found another property that better suits our needs without having to do more work.

"It has been a bloody hard decision because living in Ararimu is great. Before I came here, I knew no one but the local playgroup is amazing and that leads up to the local school.

"We are moving to Karaka and I don't think the community will be the same. But what I will miss most is the view from our bedrooms and the kitchen looking straight out at the Hunua Ranges. Seeing that bit of wilderness, that's magic."

83 GELLING RD, ARARIMU
• 5+3 bedrooms, 4+1 bathrooms, 3+1 parking spaces.
• Land 4.105ha, home 205sq m.
• Inspect: Sun, 1-1.45pm.
• Auction: Fixed price.
• Schools: Ararimu Primary, Rosehill College, ACG Strathallan.
• Contact: Craig Ashby, Barfoot & Thompson,
021 998 605, barfoot.co.nz/759357