Twenty-four years ago when Rosie and Ken Knarston were hunting for a lifestyle block to build a home, they searched all around the Franklin area from Karaka to Clevedon, and in between. They needed to be handy to Pukekohe East, where their girls, then 3 and 4, were going to be starting school, and easy commute to Manukau city and Middlemore for anaesthetist Rosie's work. They finally settled on a generous block of over 4ha— the old 10-acre block — on Coulston Rd.
"It was the first place we looked at, and then we looked at 20 more," says Ken. "It had everything we needed — mostly flat, rolling away to give us that wide open feeling, elevated. At night we can see the Sky Tower, but close up our view is paddocks. And we're only five minutes from the motorway."
The couple laugh that in their time in the area it has variously been known as Runciman, Pukekohe East, but everyone knows Ramarama from the exit signs on the motorway.
Across to the west, only 15 minutes away, is Karaka and Strathallen school, while the burgeoning town of Pukekohe is only a 10 kilometre drive.
"It's rare to have this much space and views," says Rosie. Over the years the ten acre blocks have been cut smaller and smaller, but the Knarston's future-proofed their spread by building the house close to their southern boundary, giving the house and garden as much of those wide open views, uninterrupted.
The original two trees and a pittosporum hedge have been enhanced by a boundary ha-ha, rows of alders as shelter belts, olive trees and extensive landscaping all through the property. Palm trees and tropical plants — including a couple of dramatic dracaena — give a holiday spa feel to the area around the swimming pool, with more around the tennis court.
"We've done all the planting. We look out to all the trees that are ours, we created all that foliage," says Rosie.
"Lots of blocks have been chopped up, so we like to think of this as the jewel in the crown."
It's not all just about the views, as the couple graze calves and make hay with their neighbours, and they also share bore water. The girls did have one season of ponies, but then graduated to motorbikes, so there are plenty of sheds and storage for their gear.
Rosie says that the property could become a fantastic equestrian block, with room to convert some of the sheds to stables for another generation of pony-lovers.
For the house, they'd liked the work architect David Page had done for a friend. When his first back of an envelope sketched response to their brief with was on point they knew they'd got the right design. They wanted a timeless house, something that wouldn't look brand new at the time, and still look just as good 25 years later.
Page's use of a classic gabled pitch roof, wrapped with more modest hip rooves, symmetrical H-shaped floor plan and timeless materials (double brick, weatherboard) with striking cedar joinery did the trick.
Lots of doors and windows merge interior with the outdoor sitting areas, covered porches take care of the sun and rain of a typical Auckland day.
Page set up the drama with a double height entry that hints at the views beyond, layering a series of formal and informal living rooms. The kitchen has generous island and worktops.
There is also a two room cottage on site — called the cabin — which was handy for nanny when the children were little, and then for visiting family.
67A COULSTON RD, RAMARAMA
• 5+2 bedrooms, 2+1 bathroom, 3* parking spaces.
• House 450sq m, Land 4.12ha.
• Auction: Sat March 31, noon (onsite).
• Inspect: Sun 3-4pm.
• Schools: Ramarama primary, Pukekohe intermediate, Pukekohe High School.
• Contact: Lynn Lockhart, Harcourts, 0275 354 024.