SIZE: Land 1.999ha, house 390sq m.
SCHOOL ZONES: Numerous options for preschool care and education in and around Helensville, including a Montessori school, Waioneke Community School, Helensville School and Kaipara College.
CONTACT: Mary Massara, Bayleys, 021 412 622, (09) 417 0053.
FEATURES: *Off-street parking for up to six cars. Magnificent historic villa set in landscaped gardens and paddocks over- looking Lake Kereta, less than an hour from Auckland with activities from horseriding to windsurfing and South Head golf course only kilometres away.

This 1855 homestead in Helensville once stood in Arney Rd, Remuera. Owner Dominic Stow says the house was cut into three and moved here, then lovingly put back together.

You would never know the house had been moved, he says, and he reckons it is now in a much better location.

He describes the house as a stunning "grand old lady".

Though the location drew Dominic, wife Sharon and 9-year-old daughter Amelie here, the house also had the wow factor.


"It overlooks the lake and you've got the reserve and Woodhill Forest and you can hear the ocean, and that just hits you straight away when you arrive."

The other thing you will notice, he says, are the two guinea fowl that come to greet you. They've adopted the family, who've named them Huey and Louie.

The family didn't shift the house - it was their neighbours, who built a modern house up the hill.

But Dominic and Sharon like the building's character: "It's a classic, historical villa."

A vast entrance hall sets the tone. It's where Dominic put a snooker table, although previous owners used it as a lounge. He says those owners also did a great job renovating and he and Sharon have maintained the high quality.

"What suddenly hits you is that even though it's an old villa, it's really modern."

The four bathrooms are "ultra-modern" and its water filtration system is described as "the Cadillac" of these appliances.

The couple have installed an expensive heating system, although there are also two fireplaces, and a playhouse outside for Amelie. "That's her little villa, so from her deck there she can look down across the lake and watch the sunset."

They also added a spa. One of the things Dominic will miss most is stargazing in it.

The house is so huge it's easy to get lost in, but this is also part of its charm. When friends come to stay there is always a quiet spot for relaxing and reading a book.

One of the things Dominic has also loved about living here is that it is out of the hustle and bustle of the city, though not a long commute.

Though they have broadband and satellite television the family can more often be found cooking together at the weekend in the enormous kitchen or playing Scrabble.

And although they don't own horses they do let people graze horses in their paddocks, to the delight of Amelie.

From the house it's a walk down to Lake Kereta or through Woodhill Forest to the rugged west coast beaches. Dominic is not a fisherman but says friends have brought their boats and gone fishing in Kaipara Harbour.

The house, called Woodville, had a long history in Remuera. It was built by Samuel Allen Wood, who opened the Royal Hotel and livery stables in Princes St, Auckland, where the Northern Club now stands.

Dominic thinks it's a bit criminal that the house was allowed to be moved but "I think she's found a better home now, to be honest."

The Stows are selling reluctantly as Dominic's IT business is doing well and they are considering a move to Wellington.