When Graham Milne bought this beachfront property there was just a basic sleepout on the land. It was called the old cowshed, acknowledging its original purpose in life.

"We used to camp in it," he says. "It was originally a cowshed and had been converted into a sleepout. It was pretty rough, I tell you."

Graham had spied an advertisement for the property after returning from overseas.

"I fell in love with this. It was a big piece of land and the title includes some of the sand in front of the sea wall.

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"That would have been the mid-90s and the house was built around 2002."

He called on architects in Albany to design a home befitting the waterfront setting with materials that would stand the worst of the marine elements.

The Pallisade weatherboard is hardy and doesn't need painting, just the occasional clean.

Joinery is aluminium and all nails and bolts are stainless steel. Roofing is Zincalume tiles guaranteed in the marine environment for 55 years.

"They're the same tiles that are used on the bean Rock Lighthouse in Auckland harbour," says Graham.

"I told the architects I wanted something that was exciting, that would take advantage of its position and the spectacular sea views.

"It's a huge view. You see out to the Poor Knights islands through the [Whangaruru] harbour. I wanted to have ranch sliders opening out to the decks."

Those decks open from the main living/family area and the master bedroom. There's a spa pool on the deck.

Sliding windows in the kitchen allow meals to be passed to the deck for alfresco dining.

And the low frames of the master bedroom's windows mean the sea views aren't interrupted, even when lying in bed.

The kitchen is positioned to the east to capture the morning sun and the lounge gets sun all day long.

There's an en suite and dressing room in the large master bedroom, and the other bedrooms are double sized.

The sarking of the living area's ceiling is kauri taken from the head of the tree, chosen for its knotty appearance to give a more decorative character effect.

The open plan lounge has an area that can be sectioned as a fourth bedroom if needed for an overflow of visiting family and friends.

And there have been plenty of those. With the journey from Auckland drivable in a bit over two-and-a-half hours, family and friends have been made to feel welcome.

"This is a very comfortable beach house," says Graham. "It's not in the style of an over the top zillionaire's property.

"It's available for family to use and we have had family and friends and relatives staying up here and having a ball. We can sleep 14 people in the house.

"It's a place where people can come together and have a great time and still have a nice comfortable house with everything you need. We have the outdoor barbecue. At night time you can jump in the spa pool with a glass of wine."

There is plenty to do for visitors to the bay. It's a safe beach for swimming or paddleboarding.

"I could launch the boat in front of the house," says Graham, adding the fishing is great.
Ohawini Bay is at the entrance to Whangaruru Harbour. Graham's beach house is accessed off the end of the boat ramp at the northern end of Oakura and then driving around two bays on the beach. You can do this safely in a car and at all tides.

There aren't too many permanent residents in the bay but Graham says many are semi-permanent, some working in Whangarei during the week and spending weekends in the
"It's going to be hard selling this place because I love it, but we are not using it much," says Graham. "I know there's no way I will be able to replace this when I sell it."

1 TAIWA RD, OHAWINI BAY, OAKURA COAST
• 3 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 1 parking spaces.
• Land 1518sq m, house 129sq m.
• Auction: Feb 14.
• Inspect: Phone for times.
• Contact: Chester Rendell, NZ Sothebys, 021 964 873.