My Auckland: Orewa

John Kirikiri tells Elisabeth Easther what he loves about living in Orewa, and how it's a haven for tourists and locals alike

John Kirikiri at Oliver's cafe in Orewa. Photo / Chris Gorman
John Kirikiri at Oliver's cafe in Orewa. Photo / Chris Gorman

I'm a volunteer at the i-Site in Orewa, co-ordinating the volunteers. Ateed were going to close us, but I kicked up a real fuss because Orewa is the gateway to Northland and the Rodney district.

We have so much to share with tourists, about cycleways, walks, the regional parks - there are so many amazing places here.

Tourism makes up 30 per cent of the local economy, so we need an information centre in the town.

Lots of people want to know about our regional parks.

Shakespear Regional Park is a beauty and next month they release kiwi into it. The Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society have built predator-proof fences from Army Bay through to Okoromai Bay.

It's one of my favourite places and you can camp there for just $12 a night if you've got your own tent. There are ablutions there and three, five and 10km walks. I used to take the bronze medal Duke of Edinburgh candidates there.

Wenderholm, north of Waiwera, has wonderful walking tracks too. There's a camping ground across the river from Wenderholm which is very spartan, back to the good old days of camping with long drops and fresh water, but it's so pristine.

We've got lots of reserves and sports fields in the township. Metro Park has up to 16 rugby fields, with cricket and hockey, too.

We've built a really successful cycle path north of the bridge, Te Ara Tahuna. The walk and cycleway have been really popular and the numbers using it are steadily increasing. People come from all over to use it. It's about 7km.

Another is the Millennium, which is 10km winding from the township down the length of the beach, along the promenade and through the back streets around the college, through Victor Eaves and Alice Eaves Bush.

The Eaves family gave large areas of bush to the people, and that walk connects with the beach. It's all off the main road.

The other walk we like is the Crimson Walkway, at Long Bay.

Our subdivision goes from Campbell's Bay in the south all the way through to Waiwera, and we're pushing for connectivity, so people can walk over the saddle to the marine part, then through Stillwater and connect to Whangaparoa. As far as walkways and cycle ways go, we're blessed in this area.

Moana Reserve is a small reserve opposite the main street. We have 12 reserves along the length of the beach, which is over two kilometres long and has a huge area at low tide, but Moana Reserve is my favourite beach. I also like Arundel, at the northern end where the scout den is.

They have pontoons at Arkles Bay and our local board put pontoons at Big Manly that can be moved around. The kids and residents love them.

The Orewa Boulevard is good to visit. It's all closed in and used to be called the Boulevard of Dreams when performers used to come. There are lots of eateries there, from Joust at the south end, which has a smorgasbord, to Oliver's, which is the only place with free Wi-Fi, and great coffee, too.

Mozaik do great coffee as well. The owner's just built a new Mozaik at the Silverdale shops.

Alley Katz do gluten-free food - a lot of international tourists want to know where to get the best coffee and gluten-free food. McDonald's is on the boulevard too, and Subway.

Orewa also has a farmers' market every Sunday. Hobbs Bay has a good one, too.

Historically we're a retirement community. We have five retirement villages, including Red Beach, Emily Page, the Maygrove and a couple of older ones. But we've seen a lot of younger families move in lately and the demographic is changing.

There are seven schools on the Hibiscus Coast, so there are a lot of kids coming through.

I'm not really a local, though, I've only been here 20 years!

When I moved here my son was 5. We came for the lifestyle and schools, and raised two kids here.

It's a great place to live. I want to tell everyone how special it is.

John's picks:

Oliver's Cafe
340 Hibiscus Coast Hwy, ph (09) 421 1156

Joust Beach Bar and Restaurant
268 Hibiscus Coast Hwy, ph (09) 426 2411

Mozaik Cafe
350 Hibiscus Coast Hwy, ph (09) 427 5633

Alley Katz Cafe
358 Hibiscus Coast Hwy, ph (09) 426 0548

- NZ Herald

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