Anne and Ken Shelvey were taking a break from house hunting when a chance comment led to them finding the home of their dreams.
The British couple had been living for part of the year in Whitianga, when they decided to call into the restaurant at the Lakes Resort Pauanui for lunch five years ago.
"We were actually having a day off house hunting but the lady in the golf shop mentioned that there was a house for sale," says Anne.
"We went to have a look, and we didn't even have to go in the front door to know that this was the house we wanted. It was a gut feeling. It was just so beautiful."
The two-level, classically-styled home is part of an exclusive gated community, which has an 18-hole golf course.
The house, built in 2007, sits alongside a lake and has stunning views of the water and the surrounding countryside.
Modern, elegant and infused with tasteful luxury, the house is also practical and comfortable to live in, says Anne.
"It has quite a homely feel. We love the high ceilings, the clean lines and the big windows.
"It has been very well designed. It is a big house, and there is plenty of room to have lots of people over, but we never feel like we are rattling around in it when there are just the two of us."
The ground level has a library, study, guest suite with bathroom, formal dining room and large open-plan kitchen and dining room.
The kitchen is a delight, says Anne. There's lots of storage space, including a butler's pantry, granite benchtops, and a huge central island.
"The island is wonderful — I doubt if I will ever have anything like it again."
The plentiful windows — many from floor to ceiling or extra large to frame the view — make the house light and bright and let in the breeze in summer.
Underfloor heating in the tiled areas, including living room and kitchen, keeps the house warm in colder months. There's also a gas fire in the dining room.
The guest suite on the ground floor has been wonderful for visitors, says Anne. "It has its own door to outside so you can be completely self-contained and come and go as you like."
Upstairs there's a second lounge where the couple watch TV — although the outlook from the windows can be a distraction.
The large master bedroom has a generous en suite with a wet room-type shower — "no glass screens to clean!" says Anne — and a big walk-in wardrobe.
There are two more bedrooms, one of which Anne uses as an ironing room. "I can iron and look out at the views, which is lovely."
She says she feels spoiled by thoughtful features like the walk-in linen cupboard.
Outside, a covered triangular courtyard between the two wings of the house gets used in all weathers.. It has an outdoor fireplace and a great outlook towards the lake, just a few steps away.
When they bought the house, they also purchased the adjacent site, giving them 1200sq m of land. The grounds have been landscaped and, along with towering palms that lend a tropical feel, there are also beautiful roses.
Facilities for residents at Lakes Resort include tennis courts, two swimming pools, and a fully equipped gym.
The resort is an established nature reserve surrounded by wetlands and bush, and is home to more than 18 species of native birds, including tūī, fantails and endangered dotterel. Because of this, no pets are allowed.
It's a five-minute drive to the beach at Pauanui, says Anne. "Pauanui is such a fantastic place, and the people are all so lovely. Everybody gets to know you and they are so welcoming."
Thames is only 45 minutes away, Hamilton and Tauranga are under two hours and it takes just over two hours to get to Auckland airport.
After 13 years of living on and off in New Zealand — they first came here on holiday in 2005 and immediately fell in love with it — Ken and Anne are returning to the UK to be closer to family.
"We have never regretted a single moment of living here — we feel extremely lucky," says Anne.
"New Zealand is a beautiful place and we couldn't have asked for a better home."
71 ST ANDREWS DRIVE, PAUANUI
• 4 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• House 345sq m, land 1200sq m.
• Auction: Wed, Jan 30.
• Inspect: By appointment.
• Schools: Hikuai Primary, Thames High, Whangamata Area.
• Contact: Geoff Graham, Bayleys, 021 733 430, and Lisa Clapperton, 021 495 345.