Rangitoto Island has become a big deal in the lives of Cherie Douglas and Chris Gray.

While living in Greenhithe shortly before their move to Sydney, they bought a Morris & James ceramic triptych of Rangitoto Island as a reminder of their New Zealand roots.

Sadly the three-panelled artwork of this volcanic icon didn't travel well, sustaining a crack of seismic proportions on the way across the Tasman.

But Cherie and Chris refused to let it break their spirit. They glued the big pieces back together and hung it with pride in their Sydney home.


To anyone commenting on their vibrant memento, they simply added their own story to the significance of Rangitoto Island and its iconic symmetry as Auckland's Hauraki Gulf backdrop.

Little did Cherie and Chris know that they'd be adding yet another chapter to the story. By 2017, they had both scratched their five-year Australian itch and were ready to sell Sydney, buy in Auckland, and move home.

136 East Coast Rd, Forrest Hill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
136 East Coast Rd, Forrest Hill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

They found this ridge-top home in Crownhill, on the high-side of Forrest Hill, close to Milford and just 75 steps, according to Chris' stride, from the Crownhill shops.

There looking out across Castor Bay was the real Rangitoto Island. And there, on the fence behind their indoor and outdoor living areas, was the perfect spot for their artwork of the same name.

"When we bought Rangitoto, we were so keen to have memories of home during our time in Sydney and now, upstairs, we can see the real thing right here ," says Chris.

136 East Coast Rd, Forrest Hill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
136 East Coast Rd, Forrest Hill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Irrespective of its landmark location, this home has been perfect for the couple, their two young adult children, who live at home, and their Australian-born cavoodle Kirwan, named after former All Black Sir John Kirwan.

Built in 2016, the cedar/concrete block home was architecturally designed and built for a client who had earlier subdivided and built a house at the rear before moving here.

Tall, well-established boundary trees, a fish pond and a malnourished back lawn gave Cherie scope to indulge her love of gardening with under-planted sub-tropical plants, leafy foliage and wall-mounted planters filled with colour.

136 East Coast Rd, Forrest Hill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
136 East Coast Rd, Forrest Hill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

A new artificial turf lawn completes this significant focal point from the front entry through the living area and from the adjacent bedroom off the hallway.

Contemporary materials include an louvred pergola and rainproof mesh sidescreens in the courtyard.

Inside, features include oak-look plank flooring and engineered stone benches in the kitchen with remote-controlled splashback lighting beneath the rear upper cupboards.

The rear scullery-style pantry has a matching bench, as does the separate laundry off the garage and the kitchen/bar nook within the lounge upstairs.

The high point for this family has been the home's functionality, with the children's separate bedrooms upstairs, along with the study and the lounge access out to the covered, 2.5m-deep front deck.

It's also in the detail, from the indoor/outdoor speaker system and the glass-panelled door, to the one-way film in the glass windows of the stairwell.

Cherie and Chris, who both have business backgrounds, have had nothing to do inside this house except enjoy it. Instead they've channelled their energy into the garden, from the raised vegetable beds, where the spa pool once stood, to Cherie's espaliered lemonade tree in the courtyard.

They love this location and the pōhutukawa trees that underpin the expansive sea view. Now they are looking for something similar near here with more land for a bigger garden.

• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 405sq m, house 240sq m.
• Auction: Feb 14, 6.30pm.
• Inspect: Today 2-2.30pm.
• Schools: Campbells Bay Primary, Forrest Hill Primary, Takapuna Normal Intermediate, Westlake Boys' and Girls' High Schools.
• Contact: Claire Curlewis, Harcourts, 021 0245 6775.