After 30 years working in their busy Bay of Plenty horticulture business, growing grapes for Japan and breeding tubers, Jim and Jo-ann Farnell were looking forward to retiring.
They spent a year looking at properties north of Auckland before finally setting eyes
on magnificent Casa Mare, a Mediterranean-style 500sq m mansion on 2990sq m of easy-care grounds, with a separate cottage, infinity pool and tennis court.
At the time it was just seven years old, a short drive from Snells Beach and one hour north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
"From the first moment, there was no doubt in our minds and we've had 10 great years here," says Jim.
Having come from a large home in Tauranga, Casa Mare's size didn't faze them.
"I can have the local blokes round for watching rugby at one end, while Jo-ann entertains her friends at the other. With three living areas we're spoilt for choice."
Jim says that the house is great for entertaining on a grand scale, too.
"We've held a wedding here with 250 guests.
"When it's just the two of us at home, especially in winter, we tend to gravitate to the TV snug, which is just behind the kitchen."
The house boasts five big bedrooms and four bathrooms and there are giant his and hers walk-in-wardrobes in the master suite.
"Actually, they're so much bigger than wardrobes, I'd call them dressing rooms," says Jim.
When he and Jo-ann wake on sunny mornings, they lie in bed, gazing out to the still, blue harbour and decide whether it's a day for fishing, lazing by the pool or enjoying an energetic game of tennis.
"We're both passionate about fishing," says Jim. "In fact, what really sold us on the house was the vendor's son telling us that he'd caught John Dory out there."
He says that Jo-ann likes to launch her dinghy in front of the house, by the reserve, and go out alone, once landing a 105cm kingfish.
"She was pretty proud of that," says Jim.
At other times they venture out together towards the Barrier and Coromandel on their big boat to catch snapper.
"This has been a dream lifestyle and the community is close-knit and welcoming," says Jim.
Every three months or so the neighbourhood throws a party at Scotts Landing for newcomers.
Jim says that you can be as involved — or not — as you want to be.
"I've enjoyed working with the neighbours on projects like stoat and possum eradication and weed control."
The three-bedroom cottage on the property is a bonus and the couple's daughter has been living there with her 6-year-old daughter.
"You could use it for extended family as we've done, or for an au pair, guests, of course, or even as a rental."
He and Jo-ann are moving because their granddaughter is pony-mad and they need a paddock, but they're not going far.
"We are just so happy here," says Jim.
4 CHARLES ST, SCOTTS LANDING, MAHURANGI EAST
• 5+3 bedrooms, 4+1 bathrooms, 3+1 parking spaces.
• Land 2990sq m, house, 500sq m, cottage, 102sq m.
• Sale price: CV: $2,850,000.
• Inspect: Sun, July 15, 11-11.45am.
• Auction: July 25, 2pm.
• Schools: Snells Beach Primary, Mahurangi College.
• Contact: Kellie Bissett, Bayleys, 027 530 6843; Shailenne Parkes, 021 117 9142, oneroof.co.nz
* Plus boat parking with access to water's edge