Suburb Commentry

Perhaps one of Auckland’s greatest success stories, the cultural shift of Freemans Bay has undergone a radical rags-to-riches transformation since early settlement in the 1840’s. The suburb once populated by factories and their workers is now an exciting melting pot of all-things Auckland with a blended mix of enterprise, entertainment and residential property. Filled year-round with cricket players, rugby games, soccer, runners, meditators and skaters, Victoria Park offers Auckland’s own version of Central Park with some of the city’s coolest ethnic eateries and cocktail bars across the road. Attracted by the urban lifestyle, and proximity to water and central entertainment hubs in Ponsonby and the CBD, the eclectic mix of architecture attracts a mixed demographic to the area with first-home buyers hotly contesting units and apartments while families occupy a mix of refurbished villa’s and contemporary property. With advertising, legal beagles, physiotherapists and designers all setting up trendy shop in Freemans Bay, commuting often means a short stroll to work or a hop on the Auckland Transport network of busses, trains and ferries. Personifying the community spirit of the suburb, each Christmas Aucklander’s from all over the city flock to central Freemans Bay street Franklin Road to enjoy the neighbourhood which has been meticulously decorated with festive decorations. Proudly one of Auckland’s most diverse top-tier suburbs, Freemans Bay offers buyers an exciting urban lifestyle with homes to suit a diverse range budgets and wish-lists.
Billed as New Zealand’s first $2 million dollar suburb, Herne Bay has earned a reputation of luxury and exclusivity with median sales in the area far surpassing the million dollar mark. Located on the southwestern shores of the Waitemata Harbour, in early settlement this coastal suburb was home to beautiful marine villa’s and the professionals who occupied them. With many of these homes originally only accessed by water, the community expanded as the large sections were subdivided and roading developed. Sought-after by discerning families who seek views, proximity and a lifestyle filled with outdoor pursuits, for many Herne Bay locals this means only a stroll down towards the water’s edge with their choice of intimate beaches dotted along the coastline. Taking a drive down the wide leafy streets, classic villa architecture reigns supreme and as many homes have been benefactors of contemporary refurbishment, it’s evident that Herne Bay is a suburb full of the house-proud.
With residential housing dominating the area, a number of exciting eateries and upmarket boutiques service the suburb on Jervois Road, with delightful daytime cafe’s Dear Jervois and The Governor attracting brunch aficionados from all over the city. From cocktails at the Elbow Room to fine dining at Andiamo, and the classic Kiwi fish’n chips done right at FishSmith - in Herne Bay your taste-buds are spoilt for choice. Also a premier destination for gift-givers, a number of fabulous boutiques can be found in-between the eateries with Father Rabbit, Tessuti and the Simon James Concept Store offering luxury homewares and designer objects, impossible to resist. A suburb in which many aspire to reside, Herne Bay is widely renowned as plush and premier, with residents enjoying a charmed mix of sensational views, unbeatable location and character property.
Emerging from a colourful history of which the spirit is still felt today, Ponsonby is a suburb full of prosperity, acceptance and diversity. Once inhabited by the working-class in the 1930’s and 40’s, Ponsonby experienced a cultural shift in the 70’s as a more bohemian crowd of artists and creative characters moved into the area, embracing the diverse ethnic mix and developing the community ethos and imagination of the modern Ponsonby lifestyle. With an essence embodied in everything from the architecture to community activities, there is never a dull moment in Ponsonby, and any given evening welcomes residents to enjoy art, education, literature and meditation at a number of free-spaces. While a walk down the tightly-packed streets show unconventional villas with a blend of architectural styles, there is more than meets the eye, as many refurbished homes boast luxury interiors and wide open backyard spaces. The central hub of her surrounding suburbs and a favourite attraction for out of town visitors, Ponsonby Road is where it all comes together. An open-air boulevard filled to the brim with New Zealand’s premier designers, world-class eateries and everything in-between, with too many fantastic spots to detail – visitors must experience the electric mix for themselves. From American south smoke-house fare at Miss Moonshines, designer drinks at SPQR, authentic Italian at Prego and fresh Asian-fused flavour at the only restaurant in New Zealand home to two Michelin-starred chefs, Mekong Baby – the Ponsonby palette is insatiable. A relatively young suburb which has experienced exploding growth of late, Ponsonby is regarded with wide-ranging fancy – and is known as a popular spot for fortunate young families, independents and investors due to the desirable location and premium rental yields.  
The Grace Kelly of suburban Auckland, St Mary’s Bay is one of the city’s oldest and most prestigious suburbs, with property in the area tightly held and certainly exclusive. A dedicated residential suburb which is largely populated by established families, buyers seeking luxury proximity are attracted by the views, sunshine and waterfront lifestyle. As one of Auckland’s only suburbs to experience very little change since early settlement, stunning colonial architecture still stands throughout the community from local landmark buildings to private residences – all adding to the suburb’s old-world charm. Home to a number of popular walking, running and cycling tracks, weekend brunching is also a favoured past-time, with St Mary’s Bay home to several of the city’s best eateries including Mary’s which is housed in the original fire station from 1902 serving up an unmissable Croque Monsieur. For families attracted by the outdoor lifestyle, the proximity to Ponsonby, Herne Bay and the CBD are a certain drawcard with residents needing only to walk over Jacob’s Ladder before enjoying a walk, meal or afternoon wine at Westhaven Marina whilst watching the yachts sailing on the Harbour. Boasting one of Auckland’s first officially recognised areas of conservation, some native trees, colonial houses and coastal areas are protected as part of the Auckland District Plan – reflecting the attitude of residents who wish to safe-guard the charming spirit of their community. Compared with the development of some of her surrounding suburbs in Ponsonby and Freemans Bay, the future shows little change for St Marys Bay with families holding on to their property and council zoning constraints keeping the growth of apartment buildings and subdivisions at bay for now.
From farm-land and white-collared family homes, to a blossoming Pacific community with free-thinkers and artists, it’s no surprise that Grey Lynn is again experiencing a complete cultural shift with a number of luxury developments appearing on her Great North Road ridgeline. With prominent streets named after early settling farm-owners (think Williamson, Pollen and Crummer), the suburb of Grey Lynn some three kilometres from the central city first experienced its first major burst of residential development after the end of World War One. As rapid development followed, the aesthetic of homes in the area became a reflection of the materials readily available at the time to facilitate speedy construction. While many of the quaint Victorian villas and bungalows which stand today have benefitted from refurbishment, distinguishing features such as the big bay windows which characterised the homes inhabited by the middle class still remain. A desirable city-fringe suburb marked for huge development, works on the Great North Road ridgeline have already begun on a number of luxury new apartment buildings. Signifying a turning point in psyche of Auckland property buyers, off-the-plan developments are largely being snapped up by retiree’s, downsizers and professional couples seeking low-maintenance and luxurious alternatives to larger property. As the suburb enters a new phase of growth, these new demographics join the already established mix of families young and old, professional tenants, and the cool creative crowd who have been responsible for the rise in trendy eateries around Grey Lynn. With a rich and varied palette, cuisine in Grey Lynn is a reflection of its inhabitants and a number of new and notable eateries have flourished of late. For an original blend of Korean-American fare, head to Tiger Burger for their unexpectedly delicious kimchi french-fries, or cross to the trendy drinks and tapa’s bar Pocket – popular with young 30-somethings who take in the live music and relaxed up-market vibe. Along the road, vegetarians and those with dietary requirements are well taken care of at Kokako, who roast their own organic coffee beans – perhaps best personifying the best of fashionable and eclectic Grey Lynn.
Approximately five kilometres from the central city, the vibrant suburb of Westmere has experienced significant growth in its young life. Originally Maori land gifted to the Crown, only a handful of people had settled in the area until the early 1920’s when middle-class residential development took flight. Characterised by bungalows with sloping roofs and dormer windows, the area which is billed for extensive redevelopment, has enticed a number of developers, investors and families alike – all attracted by the large land plots, wide-roads and proximity to amenities and the central city. With a flourishing café culture, Westmere has evolved as a ‘foodie’ destination following in the footsteps of her neighbours Herne Bay and Ponsonby. While neighbourhood café Catroux is a ‘must-visit’ with a delightful brunch menu, mouth-watering cabinet treats and fabulous cake creations, the Westmere Butchery has long been regarded as one of the finest in the city. Bordering Westmere’s bounds there’s plenty of family entertainment at Auckland Zoo, the ‘MOTAT’ Museum of Transportation and Western Springs Stadium – all a drawcard for young families who have shaped the prosperous and playful spirit of this exciting suburb. Coastal in location, Westmere locals enjoy a water-loving lifestyle with many indulging in boating, fishing, swimming and other outdoor pursuits from their backyard. A desirable attribute, this easy access to the water ensures Westmere has enjoyed steady price increases with buyers looking to secure their slice of the premium location, view-points and relaxed lifestyle on offer from the suburb.