Herne Bay

Including St Mary’s Bay

Suburb Specialists

Herne Bay and St Marys Bay are home to some of Auckland’s most picturesque streets, with dramatic harbour views, mature trees and lovingly-renovated ornate villas. The commerce of the CBD is just minutes away and the nightlife of Ponsonby is closer still, despite that, these suburbs exude an air of established tranquility and comfort that is missing from the city centre and its café capital. Herne Bay begins where Ponsonby leaves off, prime real estate from the Harbour Bridge west to Cox’s Bay. This is now Auckland’s most expensive suburb with the average house price exceeding $2.1million. St Marys Bay is a much smaller area, clinging to the steep northeast-facing hillside and providing residents with views to-die-for of the harbour bridge and the yachts of Westhaven Marina.

Who Lives There?

Like their eastern cousins Remuera and Epsom, Herne Bay and St Marys Bay have beautiful tree-lined streets and generous character homes inhabited by the professional classes. The difference is the people who live there. Residents tend to be younger and more urbane than in Remuera. Nip/Tuck surgeons live side by side with interior designers, ad agency chiefs and entertainment lawyers. They prefer to play in more edgy Ponsonby and Grey Lynn, rather than established and bourgeois Parnell, favoured by their more staid counterparts in the eastern suburbs. But the security and comforts of home are only a moment away when things start to get rowdy. When the Sultan of Brunei felt the need to buy 11 Auckland properties for $35million in the 1990s, he chose to do so in Herne Bay. He never actually lived here, but he did visit, and he did stamp his somewhat florid decorating style on them, including carpets made with gold yarn.

Typical Homes

Compared with Ponsonby, Herne Bay has larger villas, more stately homes and bigger sections. The houses in these bays were originally the homes of wealthy merchants and tend to have three, four, or more bedrooms and larger sections than the smaller workingmen’s cottages of Ponsonby and Freemans Bay. Many homes here are in the Residential 1 and 2 Zones. These require a resource consent for demolition/exterior renovation under clauses in the Isthmus District Plan. This requirement is under review and may well be substantially altered. Contact the town planning department at Auckland Council for updates. In recent years, some older homes here and in St Marys Bay have been removed to make way for swept-up new designs. New homes tend to be dramatic, contemporary architectural statements, their boxy steel concrete and glass forms contrasting boldly with neighbouring weatherboard, fretwork and pitched roofs. Herne Bay is home to the landmark Shangri La apartment buildings which tower over the character villas and dominate the skyline – it’s hard to imagine permission being granted for them to be built these days.

Population Profile


Aged Under 15 Years 14.42%
Aged Over 65 Years 9.39%
European 77.39%
Maori 4.30%
Pacific Peoples 1.92%
Asian 4.92%