SIZE: Land 1.483ha. House 230sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Low $1 millions. For sale by negotiation.
INSPECT: By appointment.
SCHOOL ZONES: Ararimu School, Rosehill College.
CONTACT: Scott McElhinney, Barfoot & Thompson (09) 238 7019 or 027 210 8887.
FEATURES: A charming renovated country house and cottage on nearly 1.5ha at Ararimu, 45km south of Auckland's CBD. The main home has open-plan informal living and a separate lounge. The property includes six grazing paddocks, a shed, a workshop and stables.

Mark and Nikki de la Rosa's two young daughters so loved visiting their friends in the rural community of Ararimu they asked to move there.

As ambitious childhood demands go, it had a surprising chance of success. The family - which was about to expand by one - was living in suburban Howick and had a hankering for more space. The country life had long appealed to Nikki - and she was also keen to find a property that could comfortably accommodate her mother.

They kept a loose eye on the property market for about a year but found nothing that fitted their needs, until one day a scan of the Herald revealed a charming house on a gently contoured 1.4ha lifestyle block on a rural cul-de-sac in Ararimu, complete with a two-bedroom cottage.

It was a few minutes' drive to the Southern Motorway, for easy commuting for Mark, and the country school the girls had already earmarked.


While Mark was out fishing, Nikki and her mother went to the open home. Until then, their country move was still at the "dreaming" stage, says Nikki, but the visit changed all that.

"My heart just went, 'Wow'. It was the grand old lady perched up there on the hill with the most magnificent views, and there were so many tui and wood pigeons. It was beautiful. I said, 'This is it."'

The house had originally been a cottage that had been sympathetically extended in the 1960s, so there were plenty of charming features, including wooden floors, beams and panelling, brick feature walls and bay windows. With five bedrooms and two living areas in the main house, and two bedrooms and a bathroom in the cottage, there was plenty of room for the whanau - and then some.

The land included kid-friendly lawns, six paddocks with post-and-rail fences, stables, a workshop, a potting shed and a four-bay shed, as well as a garage. It was a far cry from the average suburban section in Howick.

When Mark returned to shore, he was sent to have a look at the house. It wasn't long before the girls had their way, and it was theirs. The family had been planning a temporary move to Adelaide while Mark did some work there, but Nikki says she flatly refused, with a new house and new baby to play with, and forced him to commute instead.

Though the footprint of the house suited their needs, it was due for renovation, so Mark and Nikki gave it a thorough overhaul in keeping with its origins, and incorporating all its best original features - including a country style kitchen with all the modern touches, such as a butler's pantry, new fireplaces and new bathrooms. A lot of the infrastructure was tired, so they've redone the boring but important stuff, too - plumbing, drainage, roofing ...

For the girls, and their new brother, there was no buyer's remorse. Nikki says the family have loved their country life for the past four-and-a-half years.

"I've loved the serenity. You can come home from the hustle and bustle of the day and just chill out and relax, in your own world. And Ararimu is a great community, so that's something we'll certainly miss."


With Nikki's mother moving on, Nikki and Mark feel it's the right time for them to move, too - perhaps to a smaller property in the Franklin area, where they can build. You can bet the kids are right now trawling the property ads ...