Roller derby Pirate Kristain Midgely enjoys the quiet treelined streets, estuarine environment and community feel of Conifer Grove. She talks to Elisabeth Easther.

I'll have lived in Conifer Grove for six years this September. I had been living in Papatoetoe but circumstances meant I had to move. Luckily, at the same time, my cousin and her husband were off to Perth to live and work. I needed a house and they needed a tenant, and here I still am. I'd always been envious of the area, because it's just really beautiful. No two houses are the same, these days in subdivisions, all the houses look the same, you open your door and your neighbours are right there, but Conifer Grove is quite the opposite.

It's spacious and everything's very green. I think the area started being developed in the late 1960s to 1970s and bits of the 80s too. I remember it was the place to be back in the 80s, it was the up and coming suburb, the quaint little place on the side of Takanini. From here it's about 25 minutes up the Southern Motorway to Auckland City, Manukau is just 10 minutes away, then there's the Papakura town centre which is five minutes in the opposite direction. And we have the train stations - it's five to 10 minutes walk to the Takanini train stop, which is on main trunk line, and the Southern Motorway is right behind us. There are stops for Manurewa and Papakura, we're very well connected.

One thing I love about the area is there are so many beautiful trees, every street has greenery, In my backyard we get quite a few tuis, and a lot of chatter in the trees. Also, all the properties are well cared for, and there's a nice community feel. I love the walks, the wonderful paths along the mangroves, and the little estuary areas where kids can paddle, dogs can swim, and kayakers can pop their boats in.

There are also lots of playgrounds and big open reserves next to the water, so lots for families to do. There's lots of sport too.


The schooling here is wonderful, there's the Conifer Grove Kindergarten, and right next to that is Conifer Grove School which goes all the way to intermediate. You can only attend if you're local, which means all the kids go to school together and they all live within five minutes' walk of each other.

The little shopping centre is great, we have restaurants, a pharmacy, a hair salon and a couple of real estate agents. We also have a dairy and a sushi bar, there's very nice sushi there. The restaurants are Thai Landing, and The New Flame Restaurant - it used to be The Old Flame. They've got a big smorgasbord, it's nice and intimate but also good for families and children. We had my nana's birthday there the other day. The one thing we're missing is a bakery-cafe kind of thing, you have to go up the main road to Papakura for that, where my favourite place is Robert Harris.

My daughter loves that nearly every street is a cul de sac; they're such quiet little streets, and in summer we've got kids galore. There are lots of little walkways connecting the streets so everyone can visit their mates by walking or bike riding, or they're out there climbing the trees and collecting pinecones.

One of my favourite walks starts at Brylee Drive. You walk through a big open reserve with a playground and public tennis courts, then you walk along the water's edge past the mangroves, and along a concrete footpath that becomes wooden boardwalks. It's tidal so when the tide's up it's a beautiful view. I think it's an 8 km loop, and there are lots of side walkways, lots of nooks and crannies for exploring and lots of park benches along the way. We look out over Wattle Downs, the big houses and the golf course.

We have a dog and there are lots of places to walk him, he likes to go down to Brylee Rd best, and put his nose in the water. There's no chance of us moving out of here, we love it.

Kristain's picks
* The New Flame, 654a Walter Strevens Drive, 299 5433. Great for lunch or dinner, kids' meals and sometimes even entertainment.

* The Sushi Place, Smo Sushi, 1/60 Walter Strevens Drive, 296 0066. Affordable, delicious, perfect for lunch on the run.

* The Brylee Drive Reserve. With a playground, two public tennis courts and being the gateway to the boardwalks along the water's edge, this is a very popular spot with visitors and locals.

Kristain Midgely is a keen member of the Pirate City Roller Derby League, who hold public games once a month. Their next game is Saturday August 25 at the YMCA, Greys Ave, Auckland.