When Julie and Michael Madden's twin daughters showed signs of inheriting their mother's passion for horses, their dad said they couldn't just visit them every weekend, they would have to look after them.
"So, we started looking around Karaka," says Julie. The timing was right for the couple, then based in Mt Eden, who wanted a change of pace from their high-profile business.
"The instant I walked in, I knew it was the right one," says Julie of their brick home with a plaster finish and concrete tile roof. "It was brand new, sturdy and sound, while being low maintenance.
"It was literally a house in a paddock surrounded by other paddocks. But it had huge rooms, high ceilings, lots of light and extensive covered decks. You could just imagine sitting out on the deck and living here."
The couple made changes early on, one of which was accommodation for Michael's father who lived with them for some years.
"We used the original architect Malcolm Glasgow, who designed the home, to make sure it was sensitively done. You would never know it was an addition."
Their house is a sum of three wings. One has the master suite and guest bedroom.
The central part of the house has the living areas — formal living and dining with a Warmington fireplace, and the informal kitchen and family room. Both formal and casual living areas open to sheltered decks.
"Because we are so connected to the outside, the kitchen is where everyone congregates. We can have three cooking at once easily," says Julie.
The children's wing has two large bedrooms and a family bathroom. There is a study nook as you head towards the triple garage with its workbench and an extra toilet.
"This is handy when the kids come in from the pool or have their gumboots on," says Julie.
The one-bedroom apartment is on the far side of the garage with internal access as well as a separate front door. Another flexi room by the garage could be used as office space, media or rumpus room, or bedroom.
"On the land we did an incredible amount of planting to create shelter and the garden.
This is now mature and the garden is beautiful with lots of birdlife. It makes the house so private. From the road, you don't even know we are here."
The girls eventually got their ponies.
"At first, they continued going to school in town and then one changed at third form and moved to Strathallan and then Kings. So I had one in the city and one out here. Both graduated and went on to university.
"As the horse thing grew, there would be hordes of kids and their ponies here. And the girls had friends from town who loved coming out for the weekend; it was such a different change of pace.
"After we had done the self-contained wing, we put the pool in and that was fantastic for entertaining — and for the kids after they had been riding."
Eventually the self-contained wing became a great place for the girls and their teenaged friends to hang out.
"We ran riding clinics here for many years and that separate accommodation became a great place to house the instructors," says Julie.
There was an existing large implement and hay shed but the couple added a barn with stables and tack room. The yard by the barn was extended to accommodate a boat and a horse truck.
Their Olympic-sized arena has been great for clinic groups, "and for just the three of us to be able to ride together". The paddocks with water troughs and electrics include one dedicated to foals; and a training pen is where they break in the young horses.
The Maddens have loved the lifestyle, including being close enough to walk to Karaka Sports Park.
"It is a real hub for the community, catering for most sports and there is a vibrant social network there including the Friday night grill restaurant for families to celebrate the end of the week."
If they need to go into Auckland, it takes half an hour on the motorway, on a clear run.
"But Pukekohe has everything there; the big hubs and some nice small boutiques and cafes," says Julie.
"We've been here for a couple of decades now and it has been an ideal lifestyle for the kids. It is our intention to stay in the area, just in a smaller house."
379D LINWOOD RD, KARAKA
• 5 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 3 parking spaces.
• Land 5.2ha, house 511sq m.
• Tender: Feb 14 (unless sold prior).
• Inspect: Sun 2-2.45pm.
• Schools: ACG Strathallan, Hingaia Peninsula and Karaka schools.
• Contact: Stefni Baigent, Bayleys, 021 758 227; Ginny Cheyne, O21 405 462.