At off-peak traffic times, the trip across the Harbour Bridge to Beach Haven takes only a few minutes. It's a far cry from the days when groceries had to be delivered by wheelbarrow.

Beach Haven, past Birkenhead on Mokoia Rd, was surveyed and opened for sale in 1923, with sections starting from 40. On the website www.beachhaven.org.nz, Coral Malcolm says repeated pleas were made to the council of the day for better roads as cars sank in the local clay.

The local soil had served its purpose, though. Beach Haven and Birkdale had formerly been one large market garden, growing fruit, mainly strawberries, and vegetables to be shipped to Auckland City. In his history of the Beach Haven/Birkdale Residents' and Ratepayers' Association, Keith Rogers said there were also sawmills in the area, the largest being at the bottom of Kahika Rd. These sawmills supplied boxes and pallets for fruit growers and, as recently as 25 years ago, pieces of machinery and mounds of sawdust could still be found buried in the district.

Being close to the water, Beach Haven has also been a holiday destination in previous times, with modest little baches still around today. Helene Brownlee from Ray White Beach Haven says the area still has all the character of the holiday town that it once was.

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"There are streets of amazingly diverse homes, some reminiscent of seaside baches, some ex-state homes lovingly renovated and some modern, contemporary homes," says Helene. "Many have been designed by well-known architects to make the most of the coastal environment and incredible views."

Despite its coastal position, Beach Haven's property prices are a fraction of other North Shore suburbs, such as Milford, Takapuna and the East Coast Bays.

Dane Brown from Harcourts Northcote says Beach Haven is an underrated area that still offers great value for money for a coastal location. "There's a friendly village atmosphere, with residents fiercely loyal to 'The Haven'." Local amenities include coastal walks, parks, reserves, beaches and Beach Haven wharf.