A historic farmstead owned by the same family for 120 years has gone on sale and could be destined to become the Auckland region’s next waterfront suburb.
The picturesque Gulf Harbour land on the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of the city is best suited to a developer or a rich lister seeking a secluded enclave.
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But they’ll likely need to fork out a tidy sum.
The 13.43ha property has been earmarked for a 119-home subdivision and valued by Auckland Council at $15.25 million, according to property website QV.
It was first cleared for farming by banker and ship’s captain Ranulph Dacre in 1861, before being passed to the Shakespear family – after whom nearby Shakespear Regional Park is named – and then bought by the Hobbs family early last century.
Hobbs family member Gwenyth Herbert now owns it with her three siblings.
She remembers long childhood days picking fruit on the farm, collecting cockles from the coast, scampering through pine trees and fishing and jumping into the sea from the wharf.
“All our summers were spent down at the beach, there are just so many memories,” she said.
Yet with 198 Pinecrest Drive’s sale, those memories and an era will pass.
The Hobbs’ land – like so many historic farms before – is expected to finally fall to Auckland’s inexorable urban sprawl.
At its height, it had stretched 1000 acres and included an orchard, 200 acres of pine forest and a lease over nearby Tiritiri Matangi Island.
A family barge used to ship cattle to Tiritiri Matangi for grazing, while Herbert and her siblings would cross to the island to swim and fish in a small launch that her son still owns.
When it was time to go to school in the mornings, the children trudged three miles just to get to the bus stop.
A “beautiful” five-bedroom homestead built by the Dacres in 1861 also still stands having been continually lived in, renovated and up kept.
But by the 1970s, farm life began to change.
The family’s lease over Tiritiri Matangi ceased in 1971 and the island eventually reverted to a public sanctuary.
Herbert’s grandfather also began selling off parcels of the farm.
It means the final 13ha of farmland now stands surrounded by a golf course, the new Gulf Harbour Marina and a subdivision bristling with houses.
The family now run just a few cattle on the farm and are otherwise not using the land productively.
The writing was on the wall, Herbert said.
“We are very reluctant to let it go, but we’ve just got to bite the bullet,” she said.
The land is zoned residential 9E, meaning it can be developed into housing blocks, and engineering firm Cato Bolam have already drawn a concept subdivision plan.
The plan – that would need Auckland Council consent – includes 119 residential sections ranging in size from 501sq m to 1295sq m.
Most sections would be standalone houses. But two larger lots would allow for two rows of seaward-facing terraced houses, including one of seven dwellings and one of nine.
Bayleys selling agent John Greenwood said the concept plan allowed for a broad range of houses to be built, including waterfront properties and others near bush reserves.
“The draft master plan also lays the foundations for some two-kilometres of public coastal foreshore walkway – ultimately creating access to the currently private sandy beach of Hobbs Bay,” he said.
“If implemented, this would be the first time since the mid-1800s when the land title was created that Hobbs Bay would become publicly accessible to the wider community.”
Herbert said some oak trees and Norfolk pines on the property had heritage protection, while the homestead also had historic value.
Her family had long believed the homestead would make a perfect cafe.
She felt a subdivision would bring joy to new homeowners able to enjoy the coast and views of Auckland city and Rangitoto Island.
Yet her family still can’t help but feel terribly sad to think of the beautiful coastal land crammed with “lots and lots of little houses”.
“Because as a lifestyle property it is just brilliant,” she said.