Richard Heathfield has a vision for a garden wherever he goes and for this property near the sea he wanted a private nest, English-style.

Richard is originally from Kent, coming to New Zealand in the "£10 Pom" days after selling his motorbike.

He and partner Sue Atkinson have moved around, running a B&B in Wanaka for some years and travelling around Australia in a motorhome before eventually settling back in the Orewa area in their house with both rural and sea views.

"We walked in and we went, 'Yes, we really, really like it'," Sue says.


"We knew what we could do with it. Richie's got a very good vision outside and he wanted to build a nest, as he calls it, to fit in the back garden."

Richard spends a lot of time in the garden that he created from almost nothing.

"I tend to think that you have a lot of green anyway - everywhere you go you've got green trees so with that you need a bit of colour," he says.

"That's my theory anyway, so I like to add a bit of colour, a bit of structure. I use a lot of English buxus for the hedges, and topiary, that sort of thing."

Now the hard work has been done and there is a peaceful oasis where it's nice to have a glass of wine in the evenings.

Sue says Richard will often be out in his "secret garden", contemplating his next move.

The couple has been in this property for more than two years, buying it new.

They returned from Australia and looked at dozens of homes before finding their previous house, then moved to an apartment in Takapuna when Sue commuted to Mt Eden to help at her son's restaurant.

In the end, however, she found just getting on to the motorway took as long as it would if they lived in Orewa, so the couple came back to the area with the beach and the lifestyle they loved.

"We walk the beach most days and if you want to go into the city it's fine if you go outside traffic hours," says Sue.

The area has a bit of a buzz nowadays and you can't get a better beach, she reckons.

"It's a stunning beach. As I say, we travelled around Australia for two years and we looked around and we thought we might live there, actually, and we went everywhere, you know, right round the beaches and now we come home and we come down the road into Orewa and we think, 'Gosh, it's all here'."

Along with the rural and sea views, another bonus is they can never be built out, Sue says.

The kitchen has multiple views and bifold windows, which are great for passing food out at a barbecue, and the four good-sized bedrooms have ranch sliders that bring Richard's garden inside.

Sue has a vegetable garden down one side of the house and Richard has put in a gate so the property is safe for pets and children.

The garden has many stories attached with bits and pieces that Richard has incorporated from his days in metal recycling, and they planted a pohutukawa and cherry trees and get a lot of birds.

Sue says from the front the house looks ordinary but people are always surprised when they come through the door.

"They didn't realise this was here - you see people's faces light up when they see what's actually out there."

At 72 and 67, they are downsizing but think they may just get another motorhome and do a bit more travelling.

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