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homes In winter, Justine Smyth and Paul Lockey enjoy the comforts of their lodge-like Central Otago home, with its views to Lake Hayes, Millbrook Resort and Arrowtown; in spring, when they’re just about to make their move to their Auckland home, the garden comes alive with daffodils and tulips among the red tussock and toetoe. these pages

Of snow AND sand A life divided between a South Island snowscape and an Auckland beach – does it get any better? Words Prue Dashfield / Photographs Jane Ussher

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(clockwise from top left) sun shines through a gap in the roof onto a window seat inside; the lines of the wooden strips on the terrace continue through onto the floors inside. Bone People, by local sculptor Mark hill. The view from the living area. australian hardwood posts from a local railway bridge and a studded front door from Mexico at the front entrance. opposite (clockwise from top left) The schist fireplace follows the curved ceiling; the dining table and chairs came from Mexico. Justine smyth. Mikayla and sasha. The hatch between kitchen and entertainment room can be closed for quiet and warmth. this page

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inters on queenstown’s ski slopes; summers on Milford beach. “It should have been me,” you moan, but Justine Smyth is the first to say, “We’re very lucky.” She and her family spend May to September in their lodge-like home with knockout views of Lake Hayes and snowy mountains and the rest of the year in their large, modern beachfront house with knockout views of Rangitoto. The double life is possible because she and her husband, Paul Lockey, can manage their Auckland-based work activities just as effectively from Queenstown. Paul whips up for monthly board meetings, Justine for fortnightly ones and her commitments as chair of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. Their seven-year-old daughter Mikayla attends Remarkables Primary School, where skiing is part of the winter curriculum, and Milford Primary School, where it is not; and their seven-yearold golden retriever Sasha is as happy tearing after Lake Hayes rabbits as she is investigating interesting objects under the sea. Everyone’s a winner, except perhaps those exhausted rabbits. In scale, structure and situation the two homes could hardly be more different but the same eye guided the furnishing at Lake Hayes and Milford; both are blessed with extraordinary views and both are ideal for entertaining. Justine and Paul are mad-keen skiers and had always loved the serenity and splendour of Queenstown, where they spent their annual skiing holidays with friends. But the snow had melted by November 2007 when Justine told a surprised Paul she was taking him down for the weekend. Once there, he was further surprised by a series of pre-arranged appointments with real estate agents. They came, they saw and they eventually bought a 1.5ha property with a flat elevation for a house and lawn, falling away to a gully – a natural ha-ha that conceals the homes below and carries the eye across the grass and out to lake and mountains. They were going to build a house in which they would spend two two-week holidays a year. Anyhow, that was the plan. > NZ H&G 55


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The door frame to the right of the Egg chair obscures Brow Peak, the forehead of a landform that is said to look like a prostrate man; Cardrona ski field is behind the highest point of the mountains to the right; the antler chandelier from Canada is made of a resinous material; the pewter bowl on the steel and slate table has stag head handles and makes a wonderful ice bucket, says Paul. > these pages

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A calm guest bedroom is furnished with sisal and wool carpet and a reupholstered chair from the Milford house; it has sensational views of lake, mountains and forest. opposite (clockwise from top left) Fluid by Auckland sculptor Ray Haydon in the entrance. A low dividing wall separates the master en suite from the bedroom; the loo is enclosed by glass. The bath and walk-in shower are elevated for views. All headboards were custom-made. this page

Justine knew precisely what she wanted: “A small, homely, simple house with a country, lodgey look and a wing for us, one for guests and one big open-plan room in the middle. And all of it taking advantage of the fantastic views.” They envisaged the whole thing covered by a curving roof. They drew their plans to scale and gave them to local draughtsman Steve Henderson. He showed them the curved ceiling in the house he’d just built for himself. Justine and Paul decided they’d have one too. “It curves from the back of the house to the front – a gorgeous, big tongue-and-groove arch.” It was soon apparent to both of them that two short holidays a year would frustrate rather than refresh them and they made the life-changing decision to divide their year between Lake Hayes and their home of six years in Milford. The new house got better and better. When Justine admires something, she remembers it. She wanted the rough-sawn tongue-and-groove interior walls she’d seen at Kauri Cliffs resort in the Bay of Islands; antler chandeliers like those seen in a Sydney clothing shop. But “everything in the house had to be new and perfect for it”. To ensure she got what she wanted, she enlisted the help of Dinah Malyon, CEO of Auckland’s DMI Homestagers. It was Dinah who had timber doors and a dining table custom-made in Mexico; she who discovered the 1sqm Italian floor tiles that Justine rates as “probably the most magnificent tiles I’ve ever seen”. Superb local builders Just Build It delivered on schedule in April 2009 and the family was in residence by May. Three months later, Justine gave Dinah the keys to the Milford house and asked her to do something about the furniture there. > 58 NZ H&G

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(clockwise from top left) relocation of the pohutukawa tree was a condition of building consent. Paul, Justine and Mikayla on Milford beach. father and daughter hose sand off their feet after a walk on the beach. unpolished travertine tiles beside the lap pool are also used inside. opposite The informal living/dining area has Philippe starck chairs, an australian swamp gum table and rangitoto views. this page

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They’d bought at Milford in 2003. Justine had to have it, not because she was enamoured of the house – to her the exterior smacks of office block – but because she loved the site. Although she grew up in South Auckland, she later lived in Milford where, as she does now, she regularly hiked along the beach. Of all the properties that fronted it, the one she liked the best was the one occupied by a little old house behind an even older pohutukawa tree. “It was a corner site so it got the afternoon sun. Most houses on the beach don’t.” Life went on. Paul entered the picture while she was living in Sydney and in 2003 they decided to buy a house on the North Shore, where Paul had grown up. Blow Justine down if a developer hadn’t bought that old place on Milford beach, moved the resilient pohutukawa to its northern corner and replaced the bach with an architecturally designed house that was still under construction when Paul and Justine bought it. As it was still a work in progress, they could eliminate a few walls to open up the interior, put a lap pool in the area designated “fountain” and choose some of the fittings and fixtures. However, there wasn’t much they could do about its dimensions. At around 650sqm – five bedrooms with bathrooms, formal lounge, formal dining room, informal lounge and dining area and a scrumptious Poggenpohl kitchen – it is a very big house for three people and one medium-sized dog. She’d have built something smaller, more timeless. “But it would still have had to have lots of lovely big windows and how

do you get those in a traditional house? It was the position that was really important to me, not the house itself.” As if sand, sea and Rangitoto at the bottom of the garden aren’t wondrous enough, the site works an acoustic magic that makes Milford’s unambitious ripples sound like crashing breakers. “We can sit inside and listen to that gorgeous noise.” The sea, though, is not so kind to their garden. Only the cherished pohutukawa and flaxes have survived the high tides that wash across the Milford lawn. They make up for it at Lake Hayes, where their home is surrounded with deciduous trees for spring blossom and autumn colour – white dogwoods and weeping cherries – daffodils, tulips and a huge bank of red tussock. The family have struck the perfect balance; the grass is never greener on the other side of the strait. As departure day approaches, says Justine, they never feel entirely ready to leave the house they’re in. “They’re very different lifestyles, but one’s not better than the other one. We always enjoy absolutely whichever place we’re in.” Justine loves the Lake Hayes house “because so much of it is us, but mainly because it’s homelier”. And life there is far more relaxed and sociable than it is in Auckland, where many friends are tied to offices on the other side of the Harbour Bridge and everyone spends too long on the motorway. “In Queenstown it’s easy to meet friends for coffee or lunch. But I wouldn’t want to live in Queenstown all year. I love the snow, but I also love the beach.” > NZ H&G 61


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see more at nzhouseandgarden.co.nz

Favourite kitchen appliance: Our rocket coffee machine. (Paul) Best money we ever spent: in Queenstown, 3.5m-high window panes for the ultimate view. in Milford, obtaining this unique site. (Justine and Paul) Best piece of advice we ever received: Our Queenstown draughtsman steve henderson advised us to orient the house directly north; and our interior designer Dinah Malyon told us the tiles might be expensive, but they’re worth it. (Justine and Paul) Best time of the week for me: any day that involves a sunny walk along the beachfront to Takapuna with sasha. (Justine) interior designer Dinah Malyon had a honey-coloured swamp kauri rose and heather dining table stained black, along with the sideboard and the beige frame of the chandelier; the painting is Apropos by linda holloway (see more about linda’s work on page 154). opposite (clockwise from top left) The chandelier in the formal living area is a smaller version of the one in the dining room; the wall sculpture is by ray haydon and the artwork is Bodypainting, by aboriginal artist eileen Bird. fittings in the master en suite are by Grohe. The mirror in the walkway into the master bedroom reflects the sea; the sleigh bed and cabinets are from rose and heather. this page

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Favourite part of the house: in Milford, the window seat in the family room with the afternoon sun streaming in. (Justine) The respective wine cellars, contemplating the night’s menu. (Paul) Best times in the kitchen: Teaching Mikayla how to bake. (Justine) Best moments in the garden: The arrival of early spring blossoms and flowering bulbs in Queenstown. (Justine and Paul) our happiest day in the Queenstown house: Being snowed in; school is closed and we make igloos and snowmen on the front lawn. (Mikayla) our worst day in the Milford house: During a big north-easterly storm when the spray beats on the windows. (Justine and Paul) our favourite local cafe or restaurant: in Milford, it’s impossible to beat Jam on hurstmere road, Takapuna. Their coffee is the thing we miss most when we’re in Queenstown. Our favourite restaurant at lake hayes is the amisfield Bistro. Justine Smyth, Paul Lockey and Mikayla Smyth ■

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OF Snow and Sand  

OF Snow and Sand