Residential and commercial development in the coastal settlement of Beachlands has been progressing at an impressive rate of knots. Bayleys Howick Manager Brian Clark says: "It is a massive growth area now. There are developments all across Beachlands and there's still a fair way to go in future. There are a lot of sections just coming on the market now.
"And Beachland's new Pohutukawa Coast Shopping Centre has opened within the last 12 months with a Countdown supermarket and various eateries as well as service providers such as a medical centre. It's located within a couple of hundred metres of the Beachlands Road turn-off from the Whitford-Maraetai Rd."
The accelerating wave of increasing popularity and development the suburb has been experiencing over the last 30 years is in distinct contrast to the pace for much of its existence.
Farmland was first subdivided for holiday homes there in the 1920s, and some 1950s development cemented Beachlands as a residential beachside retreat. But for its first sleepy half-century-plus it was a small settlement.
Clark says: "It was known for its little baches on quarter acre sections.
"As eastern parts of Auckland grew in popularity, some growth extended to Beachlands which appealed to people looking for a coastal country lifestyle."
Clark says significant milestones were the creation of Pine Harbour Marina around the late 80s-early 90s and the staged subdivision of Spinnaker Bay which started in Beachlands in the early 2000s.
"A lot of its sections had water views to Waiheke, and I remember there was quite a rush on them.
"We sold 15 in one day," says Clark.
He sees those changes as the turning point that has culminated in extensive development in Beachlands today accompanied by improved infrastructure and facilities.
Clark remembers how, in his early days in real estate, buyers often moved to Beachlands for its lifestyle but tired of its lack of infrastructure and moved elsewhere within a couple of years.
"That's not the case now. You can even have your commute taken care of on the Pine Harbour Ferries."
These run between Pine Harbour Marina on Beachlands' western shore and downtown Auckland 15 times daily on weekdays, taking 30 minutes each way. The Pine Harbour Fresh Market modelled on the French village green markets operates on the first Saturday morning of the month, closing in winter.
Clark says: "The marina has become a hive of activity as all marinas do, quite attractive with a couple of eateries and a bit of housing built around it.
"The only thing Beachlands lacks currently is a high school — and I guess that will come in due course — with pupils currently taking the bus into Howick."
Clark says Year 1 to 8 pupils at Beachlands School appreciate the school's pool in the hot summer months. Many homes are within walking distance of the school and a community-minded 'walking bus' guides children who go to school on foot.
The suburb was identified as one of Auckland's property hotspots because of its median sales price jump from the first half of 2016 to the first half of 2017. While older properties still make up part of the area, much of the growth is fuelled by buyers wanting to share in the area's relaxed lifestyle in new houses on decent-sized sections.
Clark says new housing tends to be modern and of a high standard, appealing to middle- and upper-income earners. Some low-rise apartments are also planned for
The area's increasing popularity has seen some prime cliff-top properties in 'old Beachlands" fetching $2-million and up. As with most coastal settlements, properties with good sea views command a premium.
Clark says despite the changes, the relaxed coastal lifestyle remains, with the area popular for boating and fishing.
"There's good fishing there and Waiheke is practically within spitting distance."
Beachlands beaches include Shelly Bay and Sunkist Bay. However, many residents enjoy popular nearby beach Maraetai and also swim, picnic and check out farmland animals at Omana Regional Park which separates Beachlands from Maraetai.