Escape to the North Shore
The North Shore is Auckland’s ultimate lifestyle for families and professionals
Call me biased if you must but I have such fond memories of growing up in Albany and Milford that I truly wouldn’t want to live in any other part of Auckland, and if you are raising a family you can’t beat it.
So, what makes the North Shore so attractive to both international and domestic home buyers? It’s sprawling seaside with space, fresh air, views and upbeat vibe. With a grand total of 21 beaches that stretch along 140km of coastline, from Cheltenham at the southern end to the stunning beaches of the east coast bays. You have ample sand and water paradises to choose from. Known as the sunny side of Auckland, it equates with a feeling of relaxation and balance.
The North Shore often pops up in the media as one of the best ‘family havens’ in Auckland. Being a network of smaller communities is ideal for family living, being kid friendly is an understatement; prestigious schools, beautiful beaches, weekend markets bustling with fresh produce and neighbourly cheer. Beachside living meets proximity to the city, the hospitality hub growing in Takapuna, with boutique retailers and mega shopping in Albany. The Shore is a hop, skip and a jump from New Zealand’s biggest international city. Auckland’s CBD is currently in a building boom, exciting new developments as the city grows into a user-friendly city of the world and tourism mecca.
The North Shore is broken up into micro communities which in themselves have their own unique vibes.
With its string of Victorian shop frontages and street upon street of gorgeous timber villas, it’s easy to spend a day wandering around Devonport or take a bike or a horse drawn carriage tour around its highlights. North Head guards the entrance to the Waitematā Harbour.
This was a significant defensive stronghold from the earliest days of European settlement. Fortified during the Russian invasion scare of the 1880s and into the early 1900s.
By the time a real threat of invasion rolled around in the 1940s, it was too close to the city to be any use defending it, however its military heritage remains. These days you can take a torch to explore the tunnels and visit the Torpedo Bay Naval Museum at its base, then stroll along the golden sand of Cheltenham Beach a fun and educational day out for the whole family. Looking back towards the CBD makes Devonport a premium location for professionals to commute with a short ferry ride direct to Auckland’s downtown harbor.
Takapuna is beach life and Café culture at its best. The forward-thinking (but now amalgamated) Takapuna City Council deserves kudos for buying up a large section of beachfront land behind the shopping strip in the 1990s and turning it into parkland, where you can enjoy a picnic with (multi)million-dollar views of Rangitoto from under a grove of pōhutukawa trees.
There’s a cool new playground here, too – not for the faint-hearted, child or parent, but hugely popular, even on wet days. A string of new restaurants has cropped up along the main beach, offering sea views and breezes but there are also plenty of other places to eat, from casual to more fancy.
There’s range of interesting independent shops on the main drag, and on Sunday mornings the central car park comes alive with a buzzing market, peddling hot food, fresh produce, second-hand goods and locally produced products.
Up the bays
Before the bridge, the East Coast Bays were a bastion of holidaymakers, though most of the old baches have now fallen prey to the bulldozer or have been stucco’d into something completely different. Artistic types were also attracted to the ‘other side’ of Auckland, with writer Frank Sargeson’s fibrolite bach in Esmonde Road (now a motorway feeder road). The bays is a hub of creative endeavour and camaraderie. “Up the Bays” is a popular colloquialism used when supporting local sports teams.
One of the best ways to explore the Shore is to walk along its eastern margin. The Takapuna to Milford walkway traverses black lava and passes some of Auckland’s most beautiful and expensive homes. Further north, you can walk along the shoreline between Campbells, Mairangi and Murrays Bay, and then up over the cliffs to Rothesay and Browns Bays. At the northern end is the prosaically named Long Bay (originally, named Oneroa by Māori, also meaning long beach), one of the first and the most popular of Auckland’s regional parks. The weekends often see it filled with groups of families and friends enjoying a picnic, beach stroll, a game of backyard cricket, volleyball or the kiwi classic swing ball. For the more adventurous a hike or bike along the coastal walkway up onto the cliffs to the north along to Okura for more great views.
Hobsonville a city under construction.
The poster child for the new Auckland, Hobsonville was once an off-limits air-force base and is now a hive of construction activity. New terraced and standalone housing is going up by the day, along with new schools, shopping centers and other facilities. But take the time to explore beyond the bulldozers and there’s plenty of potential. It is also the latest location of the New Zealand version of the reality T.V show “The Block”.
On weekends there’s a farmers’ market in the old seaplane hangar down by the wharf, with plenty of tastes to experience. There’s some cool public art dotted around the development, and a coastal walkway is under construction which will take walkers and bikers around the perimeter. The dangerous-sounding Bomb Point – the air force used to store its ammo down here – is definitely worth exploring on foot or bike, and is destined to become one of the city’s premier parks.
To name just a few of the niche neighborhoods of the North Shore, it is easy to see why so many people and families love to live here. With so much more to see and do come and explore and decide for yourself.