When Richard and Sally-Anne Holden were house-hunting in Auckland four or so years ago, they knew they needed space for themselves and their beloved dogs.

The garden apartment they found on the ground floor of a high-quality, boutique complex — with just four units — close to the Waitematā Harbour was perfect.

The site was originally home to the White Heron hotel and restaurant, built by Sir Robert Kerridge in the mid-1960s, and demolished in 2002.

"This place just suited us in so many ways," says Sally-Anne. "For a start, the outdoor living is fantastic with a huge, long deck for relaxing and entertaining and it's all very private."

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She and Richard share a pool with the three other owners in the complex and it never gets crowded.

The extensive kitchen — designed by Morgan Cronin — dining and living area has high ceilings and windows all around.

Richard and Sally-Anne say it makes the property feel more like a house than an apartment. They love the views and appreciate the fact they can't be built out.

"There's always something happening on the harbour and we often stand and watch cruise liners sailing in and out," says Sally-Anne.

"I also like to watch the tugs at North Head getting ready to pull ships into dock, and the port looks lovely at night when it's all lit up."

The master bedroom and en suite have doors to the deck. The couple renovated the walk-in wardrobe after moving in and it now has drawers as well as hanging space — and lots of shelves.

There are two more bedrooms, one with a big wardrobe plus en suite, which opens on to a small patio that's bathed in sunlight for most of the day. The main bathroom is fully tiled, elegant and timeless.

Richard has a home office near the apartment entrance and there's a separate laundry with linen cupboards.

When it comes to spending time outside, the front courtyard, reached via the kitchen, is a favourite spot. "It's utterly private and I love the sound of the fountain," says Sally-Anne.

The apartment comes with four carparks, reached via an elevator, several storage lockers, and a security system. And with the complex being so small, the body corporate owners are all friends.

"If we're going away for a few weeks, we let them know and they keep an eye on the place," says Richard.

The previous owner had redecorated, so Richard and Sally-Anne haven't had to do anything major. The decor is pleasant and relaxing.

They say the decision to sell was a difficult one but they've found themselves spending more time outside Auckland and want something a little smaller.

"I could see this being ideal for someone who's involved with the America's Cup," says Sally-Anne. "All they'd need is a little scooter to get them to the Viaduct each day."

Parnell District School is just a short walk away, and the apartment is zoned double-grammar, which is a bonus.

132A ST STEPHENS AVE, PARNELL
• 3 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 4 parking spaces.
• 280sq m.
• Auction: Wed 6 March.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 2.30-3pm or by appointment.
• Schools: Parnell District School, AGS, EGGS.
• Contact: Ross Tierney, Ray White, 021 855 721.