In today's real estate market it's easy to forget the slump caused around 2008 by the global financial collapse and the caution about making property moves.

Now, 10 years after they bought their house in Matakana on a whim, Mary and Ed realise how lucky they were.

"We'd just bought a house in Ponsonby and we weren't looking to move," says Mary. "We had this idea that maybe in five or ten years, it would be time to move to the country.



"So when we saw this open home we thought we'd just go take a look. I vividly remember standing on the front lawn and saying to Ed 'I want to live here'. Then it all just aligned."

The couple sold the Ponsonby place in a few days and moved straight into the masonry house a builder had created as his forever home about five years earlier.

Mary and Ed liked the hebel block, plaster and tile house, its wide U shape embracing the view of surrounding rolling countryside and two ponds.

The previous owners had already put in groves of olive trees, to which the couple have added to over the years — there are now 380 trees of seven varieties.

Mary says the neighbours were kind to the "Queen Street farmers", helping them run the property when they didn't have a clue where to start.

181 Monarch Downs Way. Photo / Supplied
181 Monarch Downs Way. Photo / Supplied

The olives have become a central part of their city friends' social life, with the annual olive harvesting party enticing 40 workers for a day.

There is a co-op of eight groves around the Matakana region for bottling and marketing the surplus crop, but new owners could just enjoy the trees without making it a chore, Mary says.

When they first moved in, Mary and Ed were keen for the house to be a generous hub for friends and family.

They quickly refurbished the original decor to their own taste, adding new kitchen cabinets, appliances and benches, re-flooring with wide-plank American oak and updating with paint.

Mary delights in the huge kitchen, saying it is wonderful to work in and great for serving guests in the outdoor patio.

They pushed out a covered porch that balances the look of the house, using locally milled macrocarpa for a farm house look they've repeated through the property.

181 Monarch Downs Way. Photo / Supplied
181 Monarch Downs Way. Photo / Supplied

Over the years the couple have worked their way through the gardens, putting in more native plants and ground covers around the pond, adding a board bridge to entice walkers.

A stand of gum trees and steeper parts of the property are maintained with vigour by goats Coco and Curly Sue, from their base in the old chook house.

That's in addition to the cats, and a flock of white Pekin ducks who have claimed the pond (when they're not walking up to the house for a snack).

There's a ride-on mower for more manicured lawns closer to the house. Hedges of hydrangea frame the various levels of the garden out front.

About three years ago, Mary and Ed added another wing to the house so they could have a private bedroom, leaving guests in the other wing with living in between.

The master suite includes a generous bathroom with tiles imported from Italy, a walk-in wardrobe each, and an outlook to the landscaped gardens.

181 Monarch Downs Way. Photo / Supplied
181 Monarch Downs Way. Photo / Supplied

They added a second living room with a gas fireplace and commissioned a landscape architect to re-orient the outdoor living.

Now there is a courtyard that opens from the living and kitchen, with a servery bar, wood fireplace, and built-in seating.

The Italian theme is picked up with clipped hedges, scented jasmine and gardenia, making the spot a perfect second outdoor dining area.

No matter which direction the wind is blowing, there is a sheltered side of the house for entertaining.

The couple had kept a bolt-hole in town for the two or three nights a week they needed to stay away. But with changes in their work and the need to travel more, they are selling the country property to move back to the city.

• 5 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• House 369sq m, Land 31,686sq m.
• Inspect: Sun Dec 16 2-2.30pm.
• Schools: Matakana Primary, Mahurangi College.
• Contact: Dahnie Burton, Bayleys, 021 628 327