Looming in the misty sky above a secluded peak in Hokianga rose a red apparition that paid homage to traditional Japanese architecture

It was this view of the five-storey house reminiscent of the traditional Japanese-style rural homes that its American owners fell in love with 13 years ago.

"We first saw it with its curved red roofs and creative use of native woods on a very misty day," Tali Landsman said.

"The harbour was covered in mist and the clouds parted just over the house, holding it as if it were floating on a cloud."

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She bought it, with her husband Jules, for $300,000 in 2004 and together in the years since the couple injected much love and money to transform it into a long-lasting retreat in the small township of Kohukohu.

As frequent travellers to Japan, Tali Landsman said they had come to love the open-space of traditional rural homes they saw.

"The dining/living room is always multi-purpose as it becomes the bedroom at night, simply by pushing aside the dining table and putting futons on the floor."

She said the house, in its location in the northern township of Kohukohu served its purpose as a retreat from modern day life.

A view from the deck looking out into the harbour. Photo: Harcourts
A view from the deck looking out into the harbour. Photo: Harcourts

"We wanted quiet, peace to grow our own vegetables and fruit to spend long lazy days no longer promoting our careers and making a living, but just enjoying life."

However, she said when they first bought the house, it was "in shambles" and some of the wood was mouldy and brittle.

"Quality was our number one priority and we spared no expense to achieve a totally dry and perfectly sealed house, while keeping all the original architectural details and beauty intact."

She said an Italian kitchen and Austrian patented door and window fixtures with double glazing was installed in the house.

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The wooden rimu floors were refinished, the driveway improved and the landscape replanted.

Outside the hilltop hideaway the 1.61ha is filled with a garden, fruit trees, lush native bush, two lily ponds, a bamboo grove and three parking spaces.

Despite the challenges she said they have "loved" living in the house.

"It is so quiet and beautiful and we felt so safe and nurtured being there," she said. "We got into the habit of never locking our doors and spending long days working and enjoying the garden."

A bird's eye view of the Japanese-style house. Photo / Harcourts
A bird's eye view of the Japanese-style house. Photo / Harcourts

Landsman said the house would be ideal for creative people - who could take advantage of the art studio - and who would likely benefit from the peace and quiet of the surrounding grounds.

Despite its tranquil, rural location, the artist said it had everything one needed for modern life, including super fast internet, high-pressure filtered water and hot running water.

She said the township had many amenities and local activities, including open-mic nights at the local cafe.

But despite still loving their home, away from home, Landsman said it was now sitting empty for most of the year while the couple travelled frequently between their home-country of the US and Japan.

"It is proving time-consuming to keep two rural homes on two separate continents."

A view of the kitchen and the lounge with its refinished rimu floors. Photo: Harcourts
A view of the kitchen and the lounge with its refinished rimu floors. Photo: Harcourts

The couple's second home was in Colorado USA, near the ski fields of Aspen and Vail.

"We do love living in rural places, but we have found that we miss some aspects of city-living and decided to add it back into our lives."

So they decided to put it on the market with an asking price of $749,000. Public records showed 0.7ha of the total property being sold has an RV of $385,000. It is being sold together with an adjoining section bought in 2003 - public records for the second piece of rural land did not have a valuation.

Given the amount of work spent on the house Landsman believed the asking price was fair and was "priced lower" than what was actually spent on the house.

She hoped someone would buy it who loved it as much as they had.

"It is time to hand the keys over to the next couple who will enjoy the unique vibrations of this place."