Gardening is a favourite pastime for Jijun Chu (Tom) and he spends a lot of time pruning the roses and exploring what else he might plant in his Karaka oasis.

Roc Jia, his friend who is translating, says Tom's family often gathers in the big lounge to watch DIY clips then they go out and have a go.

They're always at Bunnings or Mitre 10, says Roc Jia.

Tom is a big customer: "Bunnings staff all know Tom."

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"The whole environment is fantastic," Roc Jia says of the house and park-like grounds.

There are a lot of British roses in the garden, planted by the previous owner, and in summer Tom loves all the flowers and the tūī.

Roc Jia says they are not used to all this space in China and when Tom's friends come to visit, which they often do, they go "wow".

People often stay for a few days at a time and Tom ropes them in to help with the garden.
The house can take a lot of guests, says Roc Jia. "You can make a party".

He says people are impressed from the outset by the grand entranceway at the front of the house, where you drive in through circular hedging carefully maintained by Tom.

He has lived in the house with his wife Hongyan Li and daughter Shihui Chu (Helen) for three years after they moved to New Zealand about four years ago.

He had been having a look around nearby Pukekohe with friends and when they drove down Jesmond Rd he saw this house was for sale.

Tom fell for the house, inside and out. He loved everything, from the wallpaper the original owner imported from Britain, with its aqua blue tone and big white flowers, to the rural outlook.

Roc Jia says Tom also loved the pleasing shape of the house which, he says, has good feng shui and features two wings at either end of a cube.

At one end is the big lounge, the dining room and the kitchen, then there is a long hallway with bedrooms leading off it, plus a large family bathroom and a separate laundry. At the other end is the master bedroom with en suite and a walk-in wardrobe.

The master bedroom is Tom's favourite room because it is so sunny and the windows look out to all the greenery.

Roc Jia says when Tom moved in he tried out all the bedrooms to find out which one he liked the best before deciding on the master bedroom.

The garage has also been decked out as bedrooms.

The weatherboard house was built in 2011 and features colonial doors, bay windows, open fireplaces and high ceilings.

Tom also loves the country-style kitchen, which is really two kitchens as there is a large butler's pantry with sink, a second dishwasher and fridge, as well as plenty of storage.

There is a large deck on to the spacious backyard, and beyond to the horses in a neighbour's paddock and the hills in the distance.

"Tom likes the mountain view," says Roc Jia.

There is also a sleepout-sized garden shed full of Tom's implements – he thinks he has put in at least 80 types of plants.

He loves the roses and the birdlife – there are pūkeko on the back lawn and he has a video on his phone of what he thinks are baby tūī in a nest by the house.

Tom is reluctantly leaving his haven. He has a business in Parnell – he builds apartments – so spends a lot of time on the motorway and has decided to move to the central city.

His property is on roughly 1.5ha – and he says building work is underway on new homes in the area.

He will miss his own much-loved "grassy environment" a lot, daughter Helen says.

"When he lives in the city he will miss the grass, the flowers, the trees and the animals."
But he might be back this way, she says.

"He thinks the most important thing for this few years is his job. Maybe he might come back to this kind of lifestyle."

451 JESMOND RD, KARAKA
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 1 garage - lots of OSP.
• House 306sq m, land 15069sq m.
• CV $2,475,000.
• Inspect: Today 12:30-1pm.
• Auction: Oct 17, unless sold prior.
• Schools: Drury School, Strathallan College.
• Contact: Scott McElhinney, 027 210 8887, Cindy Guo, 021 028 96198, Barfoot, barfoot.co.nz/763403