Craig Cooper tells Rebecca Kamm why Beach Haven is a real Kiwi town in the middle of Auckland.

We moved to Beach Haven three years ago, mainly because we wanted to live near the harbour and water. We also wanted a place with a view, which is pretty easy to find here. You look west to the Waitakeres - it's a unique perspective and we love it.

Beach Haven is like a small Kiwi town; I have young family and wanted them to have that sense of the "real" New Zealand. The sort of place where the kids can get icecream in a cone for a few dollars and go to an empty beach. It's all part of the charm.

There isn't a huge amount in Beach Haven's little village, but the bakery is great. They've got everything from your childhood: custard squares, old-school afghan biscuits, and doughnuts. Nothing seems to be more than $1.50.

There's only one cafe, the Au Bon Coin Patisserie. It's an institution, right on the corner with a nice outdoor area. It's a standard cafe with a French slant.


Another good place is the Super Save store. It has an awesome selection of T-shirts - a whole room full of them. It's totally crammed full and you can hardly move.

Most of our leisure time is spent in parks and the bush. One of my favourite spots is Shepherds Park. It has a soccer field and also edges on to the bush, with walks down to the water.

Another is the playground at the end of Island Bay Rd. It has a great location, right on the water and is awesome for picnics and swimming.

The vibe in Beach Haven is peaceful and quiet, because the suburb is kind of at the end of the road, rather than an area people pass through to get to other places.

It's also really diverse - one of the most diverse areas on the North Shore, in fact. Contrary to the typical stereotype of the Shore, it has a great mix of all the different kinds of people that make up Auckland.

The sunsets are a highlight, too. Because Beach Haven faces west, you get these beautiful sunsets over the Waitakeres and then the water reflects the sunset on the harbour.

It's a really unique view of the city. If you're coming to visit Beach Haven, have a picnic on the beach and watch the sun set.

Craig's picks
* Super Save - 3 Sunnyhaven Ave

* Au Bon Coin Cafe Patisserie - 341 Rangatira Rd. Ph 482 3024

* Shepherds Park - Entry via Beach Haven Rd

* Beach Haven Baker - 205-213 Beach Haven Rd

* Craig Cooper is the executive producer of the New Performance Festival, which runs from February 17-25. See