While the rest of Auckland is only just discovering Awhitu Peninsula, Joan and Jock Massey have lived in their "little piece of paradise" for years.

Jock grew up on a farm in Pollok, about 20km from the waterfront lifestyle property they have owned since 1989.

He and Joan expanded his father's holding for their dairy herd and later bought another piece of land nearby.

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But when they sold part of it to a neighbour, they went looking in the area for something special.

"There are great beaches all along the coast, but this is the jewel of the Manukau," says Joan.

"We were driving along Big Bay Road and Jock said, 'This farm has always attracted me'.

"It was mostly the outlook over the harbour that we loved. So, we rang and asked if they were interested. They were and the rest is history."

204 Big Bay Rd, Big Bay, Awhitu Peninsula, Auckland. Photo / Getty Images
204 Big Bay Rd, Big Bay, Awhitu Peninsula, Auckland. Photo / Getty Images

In 1989, the Masseys moved into a small cottage on the property while they built their home.

Jock wanted to connect to the garden through every room, so the house has 13 doors leading outside.

Joan simply wanted a pretty, functional house with rooms that took advantage of the views. Their architect delivered and "nearly every room has a view of the harbour", says Joan.

To create a sense of history, they milled macrocarpa Jock's father had planted and used it for panelling in the kitchen, gym and other areas. It marries beautifully with rimu architraves and scotias.

They both agree it's a very easy home to live in, with a high stud that makes it light and airy.

204 Big Bay Rd, Big Bay, Awhitu Peninsula, Auckland. Photo / Getty Images
204 Big Bay Rd, Big Bay, Awhitu Peninsula, Auckland. Photo / Getty Images

The layout has a central kitchen between generous indoor/outdoor living and dining areas. Joan particularly likes the kitchen and its numerous workstations, handy when they entertain their four children, 16 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

"The young ones can listen to music in one area while the older people retire to their end.
It's very convenient; great for formal entertaining," she says.

For weddings, immaculate, park-like gardens are the perfect setting. They put a marquee on the lower terrace and an orchestra plays on the upper terrace.

The garden is planted with myriad exotic and native trees, for which Joan takes most of the credit.

"When we came, there were no trees, no birds," she says. "We were from a property where there was lots of native bush.

204 Big Bay Rd, Big Bay, Awhitu Peninsula, Auckland. Photo / Getty Images
204 Big Bay Rd, Big Bay, Awhitu Peninsula, Auckland. Photo / Getty Images

"So, I've spent my life planting many different varieties, including 10,000 manuka. Now we have wood pigeons, tuis, parakeets, even a resident flock of quail, which I feed every morning."

Initially, Jock and Joan farmed the land but now, at 2.6ha, it's smaller than it used to be and ideal for retirees or young families who want a pony or alpacas. There's a bus service to Awhitu Primary School, only 10 minutes away.

Joan and Jock say the district has much to recommend it, with many boat ramps and recreational facilities.

It's home to a regional park, bowls, tennis and golf clubs. There are local stores, market days, a Country Women's Institute, pilates, film evenings, a craft co-op, and a church built in 1877.

"It's a supportive and helpful community," says Jock. He and Joan are moving to Tauranga to be closer to family.

204 BIG BAY RD, BIG BAY, AWHITU PENINSULA
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 4* parking spaces.
• Land 2.6191ha, house 333sq m.
• Price: CV $1,900,000. Sale by negotiation.
• Inspect: Call to view.
• Schools: Awhitu School, Waiuku College.
• Contact: Stanley Armon 021 723 177, Barbara Armon 021 799 012, Barfoot & Thompson, barfoot.co.nz/761627
*Plus OSP