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Beach Life

For most of us the summer holidays are over, but those memories of cloudless days, sandy beaches and sea breezes still linger. Heck, maybe it’s time to ditch the house in the clogged city suburbs and relocate to a neighbourhood by the sea. What are some of the options for Aucklanders?

Takapuna

Takapuna is Auckland’s answer to Malibu Beach; an address here – or in neighbouring Milford – screams affluence and prestige, especially in O’Neills Ave or the bizarrely named Minnehaha Ave. Houses anywhere near the beach start at $2 million+, but $5 million and upwards will give you a decent glimpse of ocean.

Pros and Cons:
• Price appreciation looks guaranteed as more of Auckland’s uber-wealthy and cashed-up immigrants scramble for a limited number of beachside homes 15 minutes from the CBD.
• A pipe dream for most people.

Devonport

Devonport would quite happily devolve from Auckland if it had the choice. It’s got a different, more genteel ambience than the rest of the city. Residents love its picturesque, elegant Victorian and Edwardian villas and cottages. Cheltenham Beach is prettier and less patronised by visitors than Takapuna’s and its village is less rowdy. Like Takapuna though, demand is high and stratospheric house prices are the norm.

Pros and Cons:
• Amazing city views across the water and a genuine village atmosphere make the place utterly unique.
• Draconian Council building regulations to all but died-in-the-wool
villa-philes.
• Feels like a different country and getting there during rush hour can take just as long.

Titirangi

Beachside suburbs don’t have to cost the earth. Titirangi, Huia and Cornwallis face on to the Manukau harbour and offer residents spectacular views through the trees onto quiet beaches and native bush. The village is a Mecca for coffee lovers and Sunday brunchers, while the active arts scene gives the place a cultural charm missing from most surfie suburbs. Good value family homes are available at Green Bay and French Bay.

Pros and Cons:
• Bush + Beach takes some beating.
• Cold facing south down the Manukau during winter.
• Must love possums.

Bucklands Beach

The Bucklands Beach peninsular is similar to the road into Devonport; one way in and one way out, which gives the place a slightly isolated feel. The family-minded locals love it though; this is a destination, not a thoroughfare. This is the place for the chronic boatie, with the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club and the Half Moon Bay Marina, as well as public boat ramps at Bucklands and Eastern Beach. It’s the most expensive of the far eastern suburbs; an average house costs about $750,000 compared to just over $600,000 in Howick.

Pros and Cons:
• Your kids are unlikely to become just beachbums thanks to the presence of the highly regarded Macleans College.
• Two beaches facing opposite directions mean you can be assured of calm conditions.
• Driving to and from the city is a chore.

Eastern Bays

Hats off to the council planners with the vision to revitalise and restore the beaches of Mission Bay, Kohimaramara and St Heliers. They have created family-friendly, white sand, city beaches that any metropolis in the world would envy. Not surprisingly, these neighbourhoods are much sought after and less than 10 percent of their 12,000 homes change hands each year. When they do, it can be for big bucks; Paritai Dr and Cliff Rd listings are the stuff of dreams for real estate agents – think GDPs of small nations.

Pros and Cons:
• Prettiest commute in Auckland along Tamaki Dr.
• Boy racers love it too at the weekends.

West Coast Beaches

The black sand beaches facing the Tasman are wild and rugged and that suits their hardy residents just fine. Beachballs and Frisbees are replaced by long-boards and life jackets here. Long walks on desolate, bush-clad beaches to a crashing surf soundtrack aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but to an increasing number of in-touch-with-nature Aucklanders this is real living. Piha and Muriwai are the most popular of the settlements and a bach by the beach will run to $800,000. Bethells, Anawhata and Karekare all have their fans despite their inaccessibility and remoteness.

Pros and Cons:
• The beaches have a stark, severe beauty and mystical quality that can’t be found elsewhere in Auckland.
• Your kids are guaranteed to become dreadlocked beachbums; there are no schools for miles.
• Make sure you are ready for a life on the set of Jurassic Park before you trade in the villa in Epsom.

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Comments

Sunday, October 20, 2013 12:09 PM
Some great examples. Of course you don't have to live right by the beach. I live 10 minutes walk from Long Bay, which is awesome because I don't get the noise of all the people who go to the beach in summer, but I'm close enough to enjoy it whenever I like. Locals tend to go in the mornings or evenings during the week and leave it to the visitors over summer weekends.
# pip
Monday, October 21, 2013 12:04 PM
Hum, re Muriwai & Piha comment - "Your kids are guaranteed to become dreadlocked beachbums; there are no schools for miles". Well, I'd like to keep 'our' little secret from the hoards, but there are great schools from 8 miles away, and have you ever heard of school buses? Also, I think Jurassic Park is a bit dramatic, however, now that I think about it, yes, go on thinking that way.
# GT
Friday, October 25, 2013 9:48 AM
You've missed the only west facing beach on the Waitemata Harbour.
# Hometopian
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:55 AM
Thanks for your comments Luigi, Pip and GT.
We have not tried to cover all of Auckland's beaches, just a few that are very diverse in nature. We'd be delighted to hear from locals about their favourites.

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