Mobility Dogs spokesperson Amy Hogan tells Elisabeth Easther why Milford is an ideal home for her and her dog Bonnie.
I am a lifelong resident of Milford, my granddad built our house about 70 years ago, and I have lived here all my life. Dad grew up here, and he says it's changed so much. We live on Shakespeare Rd, and when he was younger, there used to be maybe one car every half-hour; now it's like a major highway. I remember when cows grazed at the Smales Centre.
You get to know everyone here - you pass them while you walk, and get to know their dogs. There are some great places for walking dogs, Smith's Bush is great for off-leash and has the best walking track.
Smith's Bush is remarkable: when you're in there you're surrounded by trees and plants and wildlife and you wouldn't know you're right next to a motorway. Every time you go in there you see something new, lots of fantails, and tui, colourful parakeets.
It's sheltered enough to walk in the rain if it's light enough as the canopy is so extensive.
My dog Bonnie also loves to go to the beach at the off-lead times, she loves to hoon down the beach.
We're close to great beaches, Milford and Takapuna have good boardwalks, useful for being in a wheelchair. I did my first swim of the summer the other day, which was fantastic.
It's good when you're in Milford, when you think about the equivalent overseas you'd be jammed in like sardines but here, there can be as few as 20 people only on a great big beach.
I went to Milford Primary, and they're always holding community events, fairs, that kind of thing. There's a great playground there that you can use in the weekend, but that's not a dog area.
You can also rent a key for the Milford School pool and use that in the weekends; it's just been redone. Lake Pupuke is another lovely place, it's next to Milford Primary, right on the banks of the lake.
Another thing I like about Milford is it's really accessible and everything I need is within a nice walking distance.
There's a good range of shops too including a great gift shop called Spinz. It's in the mall and I particularly like that they source local products and support New Zealand artists. They have jewellery, scarves, statues for the garden, Kiwiana, gift magnets, and wall hangings of New Zealand in stainless steel. I am conscientious about supporting New Zealand artists, as it's pretty hard to make a living.
One of the cafes I like is called Hamic. I really like their chicken salad with aioli and noodles. There's also a lovely tearoom called Tea Total. We have a local Indian restaurant called Kashmir which does fabulous vegetarian food.
I go for coffee at Pillini's in the local mall, they bring out dog biscuits and a bowl of water for Bonnie, which I really appreciate.
If I have nothing to do on a Saturday, I take Bonnie for a walk on the beach, then I tend my garden. I'm a keen gardener and I like the garden centre, King's, I can take Bonnie there too. The staff are so knowledgeable, you can ask them anything. They have a lovely cafe where they sell local art, and sculptures, paintings and wall hangings.
People find it difficult to talk to people in wheelchairs because they feel intimidated, but they feel so much more comfortable talking to a person with a dog.
Because Bonnie is a vaguely exotic looking dog, I often hear extensive stories from people about their experiences with poodles, they just come up and talk to us.
I quite like it, she's an ice-breaker.
To a large extent, I think Milford has retained its sense of community, its sense of smaller New Zealand, within the wider conglomerate that is the Super City.
* Hamic Cafe, 6/145 Kitchener Rd, (09) 489 7085. Gourmet meals and delicious baking.
* Tea Total Cafe, 87 Kitchener Rd, (09) 486 5291. Speciality teas, food and coffee too.
* Pillini's Italian Restaurant, 24 Milford Rd, (09) 489 3113. Pizza, pasta and yummy food.
* Spinz, Shop 226 Milford Mall. (09) 489 3085. Beautiful gifts for all occasions.
* King's Plant Barn, 1 Forrest Hill Rd, (09) 410 4319. Great value and range, plus helpful staff.
* Amy is a spokesperson for Mobility Dogs, which provides assistance dogs for people living with physical disabilities. To donate or find out more, go to mobility dogs.co.nz