A random Sunday drive led Darryl and Jo Ward to the restored bungalow in Karaka they have called home for the past seven years. It's called Berwick House, apparently after a boarding school a former owner went to. But that's pretty much all that is known about it.
There's talk it may be 120 years old, that it was originally a bungalow before a second storey was added.
Different owners have added their bit, but no one has been able to nail down its provenance — official records were lost when the Pukekohe council office burned down some 50 years ago.
"Apparently, it was built for some forestry workers who came here to cut down the kauri trees," says Jo.
"It was built further down the back of the farm, which has since all been subdivided, and was moved by bison, pulled up to where it currently resides."
Bison? North American bison? That's the story, says Jo, although she concedes it could just be another old-time tale. What is known for sure is that parts of the house are kauri from the old days.
Darryl and Jo were living in Patumahoe where they had 1.6ha and a childcare centre.
They were out driving one Sunday and passed this property. "We just thought it looked like a beautiful place with nice grounds and we came through the open home to be nosy," he said.
"And then we bought it," says Jo.
They loved the style of the house, the grounds with mature trees, and the substantial landscaping.
The house has a lovely feel, says Jo. "It's really comfortable. It's quiet inside and roomy but it has everything you need."
They added a master bedroom (with en suite, walk-in wardrobe, and doors opening out to a spa) on the ground floor — Darryl has "old footballer's knees" and isn't keen on stairs. The children had the upstairs where there are two bedrooms, a bathroom and a landing area.
Downstairs also has what they call the guest wing, which is separated from the rest of the house.
On the ground floor there is also a formal lounge and dining room and a family area off the kitchen. A separate laundry near the kitchen is also used as a butler's pantry. Plus there are decks most of the way around the house.
Darryl and Jo like the mix of old and new and say the high ceilings give a sense of luxury.
Outside, there is cherry blossom everywhere and an orchard with "just about every stone fruit you can think of". There's also a boxed vegetable garden and potting shed.
There is a lot of greenery and boxed hedging — Jo says for their first Christmas here Darryl bought her a hedge trimmer. "Last year I got a pair of work boots."
Karaka School, a small country primary and intermediate, is only about 300m away, and Karaka Rugby Club is at the other end of the road.
"One of the things that we loved about the place when we bought it was we could live in the country and have that country lifestyle, yet our kids could still walk to school," says Jo.
"We're very much in the heartland of Karaka, so straight across the road is a great big farm."
They have had great gatherings here, such as Darryl's 40th where they accommodated 60 to 80 people in a stretch marquee.
The location is great, too, with Pukekohe not far away, and a golf club at the end of the road.
There's also a "foodie" shop nearby, and it's easy to get to the motorway.
They are leaving as their two children opted to go to school in Hamilton and they want to be nearer to them and family.
Darryl says this house would suit different family options, from people with children to retirees.
He says he will miss living in a finished house — they are looking at buying a house in Hamilton they describe as "a substantial project".
BERWICK HOUSE, 60 BLACKBRIDGE RD, KARAKA
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 2850sq m, floor area 267sq m.
• Inspect: Sun 11-12pm, or by appointment. Sale by negotiation.
• Schools: Karaka School, Rosehill College, ACG Strathallan.
• Contact: Lynn Lockhart, 0275 354 024, Harcourts, harcourts.co.nz/KAK181018/