This fully renovated, early 20th century Kauri villa and handcrafted garden has been a gift that has kept on giving for Liz and Campbell Mitchell. It came into their lives when the NZ Transport Agency came knocking, buying up rural land for Auckland's northern motorway extension.

Liz and Campbell had four years to get used to the shift from their affected property but they couldn't buy another home until much closer to the final settlement. Then, early in 2014, this picture-perfect property appeared on their radar.

It had been restoredand seamlessly extended by the previous owners in 2011, with new rear living, kitchen and bedroom quarters.

"We just walked into this really beautiful place where all the hard work had been done by them," says Liz.

The former owners had also reworked the grounds and the orchard with handcrafted gardens, clipped hedges, a pond/feature fountain and a pebbled courtyard.

"They did all of this and we were the ones who got to enjoy it," says Liz.

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According to Warkworth Museum records, a baker named Seymour Smith was the first registered owner of this house.

The region was expanding early last century. Workingmen's cottages were springing up, particularly for those manning the Wilson Portland Cement Works plant at nearby Mahurangi.

As business professionals established themselves in Warkworth village, they sought the prestigious north-facing sections for their residences.

This house is unlike others in a neighbourhood that has become known as the "Ponsonby of Warkworth".

It is an original villa with a rear addition, unlike much newer replica villas nearby, and its large section has neither been subdivided nor left undeveloped.

Liz and Campbell have two heirlooms from Seymour Smith's era to gift to the next owners — an ornate silver box and a red glass tumbler with a cut crystal base.

The tumbler is engraved with the words "Auckland Exhibition 1913. A Christmas gift to Nellie". Nellie was Seymour's wife.

For Liz, they add more authentic detail to a home big on charm and relevance. Liz grew up in older homes and villas and she appreciates the differences. "This house has all the character of the old and all the mod cons of the new," she says. "It was beautifully done. It's warm and comfortable and it's really pretty."

As for the architectural similarities and the soft green interiors, she says: "I can't tell you what it is exactly or why I like it, but I just feel at home here." The front door and the two front bedrooms face east, the white/granite kitchen next to the laundry/scullery gets the morning sun and the lounge the late afternoon sun.

The only structural change Liz and Campbell have made is to use some of the hallway's generous width near the kitchen for a study nook and book shelving.

That has made Liz's favourite villa even better. It has also made it much harder to leave as they prepare to move to Auckland to be closer to family.

5 VICTORIA ST, WARKWORTH
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 1174sq m, house 231sq m.
• Auction: April 13.
• Inspect: Sun April 7, 1-2pm, Sat April 13, 12.30-1pm.
• Schools: Warkworth Primary and Mahurangi College.
• Contact: Jeneen Binsted, Harcourts, 027 536 7107, and Jodene Mildon, 027 647 7775.