My Auckland: Takapuna

Pete Taylor tells Elisabeth Easther what he loves about living in Takapuna and why, despite the occasional yearning for a block of land, he reckons Takapuna is an ideal place to live.

Pete Taylor and his wife Faith with their two grandchildren Tilly Hughes, eight months, and Kaitlin Hughes, 3. Photo / Dean Purcell
Pete Taylor and his wife Faith with their two grandchildren Tilly Hughes, eight months, and Kaitlin Hughes, 3. Photo / Dean Purcell

When we got married we moved to Waimauku. We were out there for a couple of years, but it was during the fuel crisis when there were carless days, so we decided to move in a bit. We found a little property in Killarney St and have been here ever since, about 30 years. It's so convenient, a fantastic spot to live. We're walking distance from Takapuna Beach which is beautiful, and Killarney St Park and we're minutes from Lake Pupuke where I learned to windsurf years ago. And the little village is fantastic, as each shop closes down, another cafe opens up, so we've got a great choice.

On a Sunday morning, if we have time, Faith, my wife, and I will walk down to the Takapuna markets and our daughter, who lives in Devonport with two small children, will come too. There's a place in The Strand called Massimo and you can sit there and they'll bring the dog a bowl of water. We'll meet Sarah and the kids and go for a walk along the beach.

And the markets are great. There's a guy who sells incredible mussel fritters, he comes all the way from Coromandel. They also have fantastic produce, tomatoes, vegetables, plus I've bought the odd cheap pair of running socks.

It's got a vibrant atmosphere and borders on to the kids' playground, so we'll spend some time on the swings and slides. The playground at Takapuna, to all intents and purposes, hasn't changed much in 25 years.

Lake Pupuke is great for running, it's about 5.8km right around. In my heyday I did it in about 23 minutes, but it's closer to 45 minutes now. I have to get the motivation up to do it these days, but I know every footprint and mark around that lake. It was a great place to learn windsurfing, as opposed to the sea, because if you go off course you still end up on shore. No wetsuits back then, just a woollen jersey and shorts. I have a small boat, my son and I would do a bit of fishing. Close in to shore, we'd get some good snapper. There'd be those big gin palaces that go out for miles, but we could go out in a little tinny and catch fish right off the Takapuna reef. My son is a keen surfer and the Takapuna reef is a great place to surf. When we get an easterly, he can get some good waves.

Having a dog, which we've done for many years, we've got to know the area through walking it. There's a particularly good walk that begins at the Countdown on Barrys Point Rd. It's about 2-3 km long, yet seems very secluded. You park at the supermarket, go to the edge of the car park and there's a boardwalk track which follows a mangrove inlet. You could be absolutely miles away. Although the most common walk is Takapuna to Milford. Also, heading down towards Fred Thomas Drive, where the golf driving range is, there are lots of walks round there, and a good open area to walk around. There's a place I take my dog called Kennedy Park, just out of Takapuna, it's a dog-designated beach. You walk down 152 steps, I've counted them, and it's an amazing beach with headlands and cliff faces, and your dog can't run away from you. I go down during the working week at about six in the morning in summer, and I've seen dolphins, stingrays, orcas, the lot. About two months ago I saw a pod of orcas a couple of hundred metres offshore, and giant stingrays very close to the water's edge.

Takapuna is so handy too. I can get to work in Newton in eight minutes on a Saturday morning, though on a bad day it can be an hour and a quarter. We went through the process recently of looking for some land, but realised we've got this lovely house, so decided to stay here.

Having been brought up in Auckland, on the other side, I find it almost like going on holiday, when you cross that bridge and head towards the bays. Good-bye city, I think, I'm off on my holiday in Takapuna.

Pete is the Farmers' Santa Parade float maker and you can see his creations take to the streets of Auckland City on Sunday November 25 at 2pm.

GET THERE EARLY TO GET A GOOD VIEWING SPOT

The Parade Route is 2.2km long and takes about one hour to pass any given point. The parade ends at approximately 3.30pm with Santa's Party from 3.15pm to 5.15pm in Aotea Square.

Parking is available at three Auckland Transport Park Right Car Parks: Downtown, K Rd, Victoria St. It will be free for vehicles exiting between midday and 6pm. Buses, trains and ferries are sensible options.

Parade Collection: Collectors for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand will ask the waiting crowds for a gold coin donation, so please come prepared.

Top tip: When taking small children into large crowds, vivid marker your mobile number on their arms, just in case.

For more information visit santaparade.co.nz

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