When British ex-pats Nicola and Ian Pearson moved to New Zealand nearly 20 years ago, they were perfectly happy with their house in Torbay.
"It only had a peep of the sea, but Ian was happy. After working in Saudi Arabia, everything looked good after the desert," says Nicola.
"But I wanted a true sea view. When I found this, it wasn't what Ian was looking for, but it's got stunning views, stunning location and was in perfect condition. The house is right in the canopy of the trees."
Nicola says that Ian's main objection was that they'd come all the way from England to an English-looking house — Tudor-style board and plastered concrete exterior, beamed ceilings, an English country-style kitchen.
But he fell in love with gardening the property, which eases from cultivated gardens around the house, decks and pools into nearly 4500 sq m of native bush.
The house is at the end of a long driveway, the bush drops away to allow views of the water and, beyond, the city lights.
Built by Replica Homes, the house came with plans for renovations, so Nicola and Ian immediately set about alterations.
A new extension housed a double garage with a self-contained bedroom suite above, ideal for guests or returning kids. The couple re-landscaped and, about three years ago, updated the driveway.
Inside, they kept the beamed ceilings and arrangement of rooms, from informal sitting oriented to the garden and pool through to formal dining and living rooms. They knocked out a partial wall that was interrupting the flow in the casual rooms.
They tweaked the plan for a new toilet and bathroom downstairs and, in their master suite, gutted the bathroom, added a shower and created a modern bathroom.
They put in new carpets, drapes and repainted. They rearranged the dressing room walls so that their bed now looks out across the tree-tops to the views that first drew them to the property.
Nicola, who loves cooking, had the kitchen updated three years ago, retaining the old-fashioned hob, but including granite stone counters and drawer and storage systems.
The 35-year-old house originally had a shingle wood roof which had reached the end of its natural life, so the Pearsons replaced it with asphalt shingle suitable for collecting rain water, and added a water tank. Even in this dryest of summers, it's only needed one supplementary delivery all season.
Ian's focussed his gardening on re-establishing native plants.
The couple have loved how they use every inch of the house during the day — a deck off the kitchen gets morning sun for breakfast and weekend coffees, the patio and spa on the large pool deck are perfect for evenings.
They've also realised how closely knit the country community is, including the Pare-dise community horticulture group and the street parties along the road.
They've enjoyed the walks at nearby Sanders Reserve and the Paremoremo Reserve, the easy access to Albany for shopping, or Riverhead and Kumeu for country outings.
But their daughter is long gone and the couple are ready to try a new lifestyle — definitely near the water with sea views, Nicola is certain.
9 CHATHAM AVE, PAREMOREMO
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2* parking spaces.
• House 304sq m, land 4494sq m.
• Auction: March 20, 1pm.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun, noon to 12.30pm.
• Schools: Ridgehill, Albany Junior and Senior High.
• Contact: Lisa Stone, Ray White, 021 504 674 ,Steve Stone 021 966 499