My Auckland: Te Atatu Peninsula

By Vaughan Smith

Vaughan Smith, a DJ on radio station The Edge, moved to Te Atatu only this winter with his fiance Sharde Thanatharakij, and already the couple are in love with their slice of country so close to town.

Vaughan Smith and Sharde Thanatharakij walk their dog Lulu Belle along the Te Atatu Peninsula Walkway. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Vaughan Smith and Sharde Thanatharakij walk their dog Lulu Belle along the Te Atatu Peninsula Walkway. Photo / Brett Phibbs

We'd lived in Sandringham for six years and Kingsland before that, but when we got engaged we decided we wanted to have a house before the wedding in November.

I was in Amsterdam for work when Sharde called and said 'I've found a house I want to buy, I'll go up to our bank limit', and I said 'okay, buy it', and when I got home, there was our house.

It's a 1950s weatherboard house on half of one of those massive old sections. There are lots of ex-state houses out here on big sections with lemon trees and clotheslines in the backyard. I grew up on a farm and I couldn't stand not having a section - to me this is how living in town should be.

Our neighbour has been here forever, and there are also lots of young families. My parents have already pointed out there are two good primary schools. I also like the idea of a high school named after Ernest Rutherford: if the kids don't learn anything else, at least they'll know it's named after somebody good.

Te Atatu is not as far out as people think. Sharde works at Britomart and it takes her less time to get to work than it did from Sandringham. I start work at lunchtime so it's only 15 minutes into Ponsonby. I'm planning to ride a bike in summer because the cycleway takes you all the way into Ponsonby Rd.

You almost feel like you're on an island - you turn right off the motorway and you're completely surrounded by water. You've got views of the Chelsea sugar factory, the Sky Tower, Rangitoto and the Harbour Bridge.

The best place is the Harbour View Marina. I run around there with our dog Lulu, a cavoodle (a cavalier King Charles-poodle cross) There are boardwalks and a massive park and it's always well kept. At the end of the peninsula is the Chapman Reserve and the yacht club.

The estuary and mangroves are around the other side, and I love that when you drive in here the first thing you see is the pony club. They give out free manure too, which we'll put on the vege garden - in the old days this area was covered in market gardens, so it's good growing territory.

There are really good takeaways - Haddads and M & Ms Fish and Chips. There are a couple of good cafes here: Luscious Food Store and Servo, but there isn't a pub - though I like that the Licensing Trust puts their money back into the community - the Waitakere Trust Stadium gets lots of concerts. There are two markets here and when I have the vege crop, maybe I'll sell some there.

It sounds cheesy, but this place sells itself.

When people come out here they love it. We were walking one evening just as the sun was going down and it was reflecting on all the glass on the city. It was magic.

Vaughan's picks

* Servo Licensed Eatery 458 Old Te Atatu Rd, ph (09) 834 0222

* Luscious Catering 547 Te Atatu Rd, ph (09) 834 8499

* M & M Takeaway 694 Te Atatu Rd, ph (09) 834 7143

* Haddad Group Takeaways 538 Te Atatu Rd, ph (09) 834 6429

* Taikata Sailing Club Inc 15 Chapman Rd, ph (09) 834 7299

* Chapman Strand on the northern tip of the Te Atatu Peninsula, looks back across the Henderson Creek to West Harbour and has a boat ramp and area for swimming.

* The Te Atatu Peninsula Walkway has walking, running or cycle tracks following Henderson Creek as it flows into the Waitemata Harbour with views of the city beyond, wetlands, mangroves and sandy beaches. The slightly more secluded Kelvin Strand has flax-lined tracks that looking out over the West Harbour Marina with a sheltered sandy beach (Kelvin Cres via Gill Ave and Beach Rd) while Spinnaker Strand (off Beach Rd) and the larger Taipari Strand include great picnicking spots (and yes, another a boat ramp launching into Henderson Creek).

* Harbourview Orangihina has a number of historic sites: middens from early Maori occupation to World War II gun emplacements, and wetlands - home to the godwit.

* Te Atatu Boating Club Inc 32 Bridge Ave, ph (09) 834 4006

* Te Atatu Pony Club (Inc) 465 Te Atatu Rd, ph (09) 834 9989Vaughan Smith and Sharde Thanatharakij walk their dog Lulu along the Te Atatu Peninsula Walkway. Left, Luscious Food Store and right, the Te Atatu Pony Club.

- NZ Herald

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