Alena and John Lee felt lucky to find their new house by the sea. They had been living in a two-storey house further up Snells Beach but decided to sell to buy a single-level home.

Their home sold quicker than expected, and with the clock ticking to leave, they struggled to find their next home in a hot market.

Ideally, they were after rural as they used to have a lifestyle block with lots of animals and were missing the country lifestyle — but nothing was available.

Their other preferred option was to remain seaside. As luck would have it, they discovered a "beautiful" new house which had been built further down the beach at Whisper Cove — and they pounced.

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"This was new, it was available and it was empty," says Alena.

"We were the first owners; we just grabbed it."

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The couple have been here a year and a half and have turned the new house into a home.

"You know, doing extra decks, archgolas, splashbacks — you name it, we've done it," she says.

"It came with no curtains and drapes so we've just been continually doing lovely things to it."

They live only a few steps from the beach and are opposite Kawau Island which means the view is stunning, says Alena.

"Last night, for example, there was a full moon which came up over Kawau and shimmered over the sea. It was just amazing.

"It's a beautiful home. It's just to die for. It has wraparound decks which we built. We extended one deck and built another one so you can go out to the sea side or you can go out the other side which is all private, and we put the big archgola over the top."

The single-level home was built by The House Company and has Linea weatherboards.

The company did a great job, says Alena, describing the house as well designed and easy to live in.

"There are ranch sliders everywhere. The lounge/dining area has got four bifolds — it's huge."

The biggest plus, though, is being on the other side of the road to the clear water and soft sand of Snells Beach. There's nothing better than getting up in the morning, making a coffee and taking it down to the beach, Alena says.

"You take your coffee and it still stays hot by the time you get there. It's little more than a stone's throw."

You will often find neighbours doing the same thing, she says, though the beach is never busy.

"That's what everybody loves. It's just a nice, quiet beach."

If you don't fancy making your own coffee, a cafe is in the process of being built on the beach, Alena says.

The beach is shallow so is safe for children, and it's the sort of beach where everyone says hello.

Alena loves getting up in the morning, going into her kitchen and looking straight out to sea.

"There's always something to see. We watch people all day long. The locals go for their walks."

Because the house is well designed it's also easy to maintain, she says.

The kitchen/dining/living is combined, and the lounge is big enough for two lounge suites.

The master bedroom is large with an en suite, a walk-in wardrobe and also has a ranchslider which opens to one of the decks.

The laundry is off the hallway with a door out to the washing line.

"It's easy peasy," says Alena. "It's beautifully set out and we've done all the work. There is absolutely nothing to do here."

The couple added quality drapes throughout and spent a lot of money on the kitchen — including the Lucy G tui splashback ("it's gorgeous") and the pull-out cupboards in the pantry.

The house is wonderful for entertaining, Alena says. In summer people spill out onto both decks and on the archgola side there is a colourful "oasis" garden she planted, plus there is another garden off the other deck.

Snells Beach is a great place to live with cafes and shops, plus there are supermarkets at nearby Warkworth, and some of the neighbours commute to central Auckland every day.

Alena and John, who are retired, say they will miss their beach paradise but are pining for the country so plan to find somewhere rural — though they intend to stay in the area.

18 HAMPTON MEWS, SNELLS BEACH
• 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2* parking spaces.
• Land 405sq m, house 179sq m.
• Sale price: $900,000-plus.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 2-2.30pm.
• Auction: July 26 (unless sold prior).
• Schools: Snells Beach Primary, Horizon School, Mahurangi College.
• Contact: Jacky Brock, Harcourts, 0275 705 610, Karl Hodgson, 0275 662 505, harcourts.co.nz/SB4458
* Tandem (2 small cars)