As the gateway to the delights of Matakana and the beaches beyond, the town of Warkworth can get a little overlooked.
But though those places come alive during the weekend, Warkworth is busy on a daily basis serving the needs of locals and the wider district.
The town's quiet, quaint image - courtesy of its heritage buildings - got a shake-up recently with the approval of The Grange retail development on the south side of town. Many locals weren't happy about the planning process that allowed approval of the large precinct, featuring a petrol station and fast food restaurants, which they felt was out of character with the town's colonial charms.
And the worry was that traffic through the town was already bad enough (as anyone will know who has tried to navigate the notorious junction on State Highway 1 on the way to Matakana, Omaha or Tawharanui).
As Anthony Shaw, of Bayleys, says, the extension of SH1 bypassing Warkworth - the so-called "Holiday Highway" - "can't come soon enough".
"It will make our lives a whole lot easier," he says. "Some weekends we don't go out because we know the traffic will be so bad."
He says though The Grange has been one of the biggest developments, there has been other retail and residential growth on the outskirts of town, which is all part of population growth and demand for housing emanating from Auckland.
Shaw says about 80 per cent of buyers he meets are from Auckland.
"The majority are empty-nesters or retirees cashing up in Auckland and moving up here."
Sections are snapped up as soon as they become available, and land zoned future urban is becoming increasingly valuable.
However, prices in Warkworth are well below Auckland levels, making the 45-minute commute to the big smoke worthwhile, especially for those who don't have to be in the office five days a week.
The Mahurangi River and boardwalk are key attractions together with numerous parks and reserves such as Puhinui Scenic Reserve beside the river.
There are also boardwalks at Parry Kauri Park, part of the Warkworth Museum precinct, where visitors can view towering kauri trees.
Shaw: "Wineries, quality restaurants, sandy beaches and golf courses are all right on the doorstep.
"The expanding sports grounds now incorporate a new AstroTurf hockey field, new netball courts with flood lighting for the entire complex and even more facilities planned.
"All levels of education are well covered with quality schools within walking distance of the centre of town.
"Warkworth is poised for future growth of homes, population and jobs."
In colonial days, Warkworth was known as "Browns Mill", founded in 1853 by John Anderson Brown, who later named it after the village of Warkworth in Northumberland.
He bought about 60ha and offered allotments for sale in 1854. Kauri logging was one of the early industries, along with flour milling and boat-building.
The first commercial premises were built in the 1860s and the town grew from there.
During World War II, Warkworth and its surrounding farms were host to a multitude of camps for soldiers from the United States before they were sent off on campaigns in the Pacific.
$2.007m: 123 Valerie Close
Dianna Coman and Kellie Bissett, of Bayleys, sold 123 Valerie Close for $2.007m. An attractive lifestyle property on 5.6ha, it has a five-bedroom home plus cottage with private garden.
$541,000: 1 Wech Drive
Anthony Shaw, of Bayleys, sold 1 Wech Drive for $541,000. The 1980s block base and timber weatherboard three-bedroom home with single garage was in need of renovation and sits on a 2515sq m subdividable section.
$765,000: 16 Jade River Place
Shaw also oversaw the sale of 16 Jade River Place for $765,000. This seven-year-old four-bedroom, two-bathroom brick and tile home with double garaging is in a prime subdivision on a flat 632sq m section.
An entry-level property would be a two- or three-bedroom home on a 400sq m to 650sq m site with a price range of $500,000 to $700,000.
An average three- or four-bedroom home on 650sq m to 1200sq m of land would sell for between $700,000 and $800,000.
At the top end, a home of at least four bedrooms on a site upwards of 750sq m would start at $850,000 with larger homes on bigger pieces of land hitting $2.5 million.
Warkworth School, Mahurangi College.
Three-bedroom homes generally rent around the $450 to $500 mark. Larger homes are priced from about $600 upwards.
The older established streets in close proximity to the shops are always in demand such as Rivendell Pl, Alnwick St, Lilburn St, Coquette St, Bertram St, Ashmore Cres and Westpark Glen.
But there are newer streets in the Jade River subdivision such as Shipwright Place, Jade River Pl, Estuary Close and Rural View Lane that are very popular, offering new modern homes that are also close to town.
The Mahurangi River runs through the heart of Warkworth and is a picturesque spot to feed the ducks or stroll the boardwalk. Special events along the river include regattas that host historic boats such as steam tugs.
For an insight into Warkworth's pioneering past, there is no better place than the town's museum. There are displays of colonial history including re-created rooms of the 1920s such as a typical corner store, kitchen, bedrooms, and workshops. There are also clothing displays for a blast from the past.