John Dunn says part of the charm of the big, sun-drenched Red Beach home with big views he shares with wife Jennie comes from its wonderful position.
"You only have to walk past three houses to get to the beach," he says.
"And yet its orientation at the top of a little hill makes it feel like a castle, delivering panoramic views and sun morning till dusk.
"You've got the beach nearby on one side and a walkway opposite us into Red Beach Park, so it's the best of both worlds."
The couple previously lived further out on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula but experienced increasingly congested traffic.
Red Beach sits near the start of the peninsula, below Orewa and north east of Silverdale, around 30 minutes' drive from Auckland's CBD.
John says: "We find it much more accessible here as you've got two ways off the peninsula, out the Red Beach-Orewa way or down the other way.
"Also, we've found Red Beach has a nice community feeling compared to some bigger communities around here.
"You get lots of families who know one another in and around the surf club, and kids kayaking, paddle-boarding, surfing and swimming."
The Dunns have three adult daughters, three grandchildren, and a large extended family, so they have appreciated a 527sq m three-level home.
John says: "At Christmas and holidays we have all the whanau land on us and just spread them around the house.
"Its sheer size, versatile spaces and self-contained area downstairs means you can have lots of people without feeling at all cluttered."
He grew up in Otago and likes the schist on their ground floor exterior, which reminds him of Queenstown.
The 2005 home sits among other multi-million-dollar homes and is plaster over a cavity with eaves. The couple had thermal imaging done to assure themselves of its condition before buying here in 2015.
A driveway flanked by lawn and with off-street parking leads up to No. 34's double garage, now carpeted, in the middle of the ground floor.
John says the self-contained area on one side makes guests such as Jennie's parents feel special.
It has its own entrance, lounge-dining-kitchen, bedroom with walk-in wardrobe and en suite-laundry.
The main entrance seawards of the garage opens into a foyer accessing a bedroom, bathroom, laundry and sizeable studio.
Its many possibilities include work, media room, gym or dance studio using its mirrored wall.
The foyer's Victorian ash also floors the main kitchen and master bedroom.
John says: "The views from the top and middle floors are just panoramic, across the water, out over Orewa and up north.
"You feel a lovely, calming connectivity to the water and see great sunsets."
The middle floor's open-plan dining-lounge-family room opening to decks includes a double height void and a renovated kitchen with marble-look island and sophisticated scullery.
The Dunns also painted the exterior and interior and installed LED lighting.
Three more bedrooms accessing decks, a bathroom, powder room and store complete this level."It's such a sunny, light-filled house we use our three heat-pumps more for cooling," says John.
"And the fact it incorporates lots of dormers creates lots of interesting ceilings."
The couple love listening to the waves and watching beach and sea activity looking out towards Kawau and Motutapu from the top floor's master bedroom with deck, walk-in-wardrobe and en suite.
A neighbouring mezzanine seating area looks out through the double height void and links to an office or bedroom.
Rear grounds with lawn include a barbecue area.
John and Jennie's three daughters and their families have moved, so the couple no longer need as much space.
34 MARELLEN DRIVE, RED BEACH
• 7 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 1093sq m, house 527sq m.
• Sale: By negotiation over $2.6 million (CV $2.8m).
• Inspect: Viewing as advertised or by appointment.
• Schools: Red Beach School, Orewa College.
• Contact: Carole Thomas, Premium, 021 539 553.