The year was 1994, and the new technology of email was allowing IT company co-founder David Stott, to step back from his corporate office and work from home on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington rather than commute to his CBD office.
David and his wife Pauline were living in their Waikanae home, a Georgian mansion used by Sir Peter Jackson in his movie ‘The Frighteners’. With his IT company performing strongly and his daily input reduced, it became clear that they now had the luxury of being able to make a change in their lifestyle.
“We had the conversation about where in the world we would ultimately like to live,” explains David.
“A native English-speaking country was the prime consideration which cut our options down to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.”
Quickly eliminating six of those seven countries based on climate, population density, crime statistics, distance from the Wellington head office, and “funny accents”, the Stotts decided that their future home would still be in New Zealand.
“That showed our complete ignorance of much of the rest of the world, but I’ve always liked quick decisions!” laughs David, adding that he believed they would end up seaside at Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty.
“I said to Pauline that if we continued to live in New Zealand then it would have to be in the upper half of the North Island, on the east coast and that it would be ‘The Mount’ where I grew up and could indulge my love of surfing.”
After putting their two pet dogs into kennels, they began a two week road trip to search for a suitable property, starting in Warkworth north of Auckland – keeping to the coast – and ending up in Tauranga.
“Our top criterion was that we wanted absolute ocean front with nothing between us and the Pacific – no other homes, and no roads,” says David.
“We also wanted a sizeable chunk of land – ideally a hectare or so to ensure our privacy – and definitely bare land, as we are both super picky about what we want in a house and knew we wanted to build.”
Five days into the journey, the Stotts reached the Sailors Grave Road intersection on State Highway 25 on Pumpkin Hill in the Coromandel, and caught their first glimpse of glorious Tairua Harbour.
“We actually both gasped,” recounts David.
The next day they discovered an undeveloped section 70 metres above the ocean on Pumpkin Hill, with 180 degree views of the Pacific and its islands.
The land was owned by an American called Roger who lived on an adjacent property. Earmarking the site as a very real contender, and after a fruitless trip to David’s beloved Mount Maunganui where beach front land was scarce and beyond the wallet, the Stotts then called Roger and bought the land.
The Mediterranean-inspired home they have built perched on the hillside has international flair, but is anchored by the Coromandel coastline.
Overseas guests compare the commanding location to the Amalfi Coast in Italy and with its terracotta roof tiles, cupola, wooden shutters, courtyard with fountain, and loggias, this home could legitimately have stepped straight out of southern Italy.
The house was specifically designed by the Stott’s architect to allow subtle vistas rather than “in-your-face plate glass window views”.
“The panorama is fresh and sensational every time we go outside, whether eating breakfast under the loggia or presenting the Pacific Ocean to our visitors,” says David.
“All the neighbours are here for the same reasons – to enjoy the peace and the views.
“Living on the coast is not just a change in lifestyle but a complete change in aura.
“The vast expanse of ocean that we see from our home just opens up our hearts every time we view it.”
The property has two private beach access ways and David, who gave up owning his own boat – “motors and I just don’t get along” - is always keen to go out fishing with a neighbour when the opportunity presents itself.
“The Alderman Islands are on the horizon 20 kilometres away with Shoe and Slipper Islands and all points in between, making Tairua an excellent harbour to depart from for a few hours – or all day – fishing, diving or just cruising.
“We’ve seen many dolphins and orca in the sea just below the house over the years. Once, I looked down and saw what I first thought were divers swimming under the surface just metres from the rocks below us."
“Then I realised they were moving too quickly and it turned out to be a family of orca – mum, dad and a baby.”
Forever appreciative that they discovered this enviable spot north of Tairua, David and Pauline still feel they have “one more house in them” and would like to build again on Pumpkin Hill - so this much-admired home is now for sale.