Carol Forsyth, manager of Vessels and Volunteers at the Maritime Museum, tells Elisabeth Easther what she loves about living in Kaukapakapa. It's off the beaten track, boasts some wonderful waterways and there's plenty of room to do your own thing.

My parents and sisters lived in Glorit, up the road, and when we needed somewhere to live about 15 years ago we found this block of land for sale not far from them. We have river access around the whole property, and I wish I could be on it more. With the tide coming in and out, it's always changing. The wildlife is beautiful, we get ducks, geese, herons and fish. And I have lots of old boats here which aren't seaworthy. I have them dry docked, they're only little ones and I love them.

Omeru Reserve is a lovely place to visit, there's a waterfall, some old fruit trees and a lookout. There's also a fortification as it's an old pa site. The fruit trees are very old, and it's really private with lovely big trees all around. There used to be a swinging bridge but that's gone now. There's also a toilet, other than that it's basically beautiful bush and just 5km north of Kaukapakapa.

The Makarau Bridge was built in the 1930s. You can see it from our place, it's like a mini Sydney Harbour Bridge and it's still in use. My kids used to come home from school and jump off it, or stand on our verandah and see others there and ask "who's jumping off our bridge?"

There is a wonderful garden centre at the top of Kaukapakapa Hill called Kaipara Coast Garden Centre and Sculpture Garden. I've not been to the sculpture garden, but I hear it's wonderful and it's really come ahead in the 15 years it's been there.


Then there's the Kaukapakapa Hall. It's been the centre of the community since the 1860s. In my time it's been used for Kaukapakapa School concerts, the Kaukapakapa Scout Group and ratepayers' meetings. And we've used it for a 21st and a funeral; no weddings yet though.

On Christmas Eve there's a combined church and carol service which is just fabulous. The old hall and the library were built in 1860, and though you can't use the library, it's as cute as anything, the smallest in New Zealand. It's still a library but it's not open. The old hall used to be down the road. It's a big building and it was moved closer to Kaukapakapa so the schoolkids wouldn't have to walk down the road to it. So they lifted it up and moved it closer to the school.

They've moved a lot of buildings round here. There's a heck of a lot of history in the area. When the train used to go past we had a train station, a post office, a flax mill, an old store and a butcher shop. We've still got a fire station, the school, the library, the hairdresser, the dairy, the vet, the garage that's a takeaways, a mechanics' workshop and three churches, very lovely old ones.

Kaukapakapa Hall is also the polling booth as well as the venue for regular markets. I don't go to the markets because they're on a Sunday and I go to the Hibiscus Coast Salvation Army Corps instead. I joined the Salvation Army after working on their vessel that went back and forth to Rotoroa Island when it was a facility for alcoholics. I've been boating all my life on the Waitemata, and now, after having been a master on the ferries, I take the ferry to work from Northcote Point. I just love boats.

There are no cafes in Kaukapakapa, although there is a vet, a hotel, two takeaway places, one Chinese and the other one at the old garage. The petrol station shut down and it's now a place that has wonderful huge hamburgers. I remember their burger being the biggest I've ever seen.

Helensville is 20 minutes away from us and I like to go there to the Art Stop Cafe, which used to be a garden centre. They do lovely quiches, lovely baking, and there's a book shop right there too.

Helensville is a mix of all sorts of wonderful things, you'll never know what you'll find there.

I'll often go to the boat club there, the cruising club, and the Pioneer Museum is wonderful. What I love about living here is we can light an outdoor fire if we want to, put a fence where we want to, it's a lot freer than living in the city. People let people get on with their lives, yet we're all there to help anybody out if they need it, but we're not in each others' backyards.


There's the space and freedom to grow into what you are and who you are rather than being put into a mould. We're a forgotten area here, which we like.

A few of Carol's favourite things:
* Omeru Reserve: Kaipara Coast Highway, Kaukapakapa, Rodney. 8km north of Kaukapakapa township. Signposted.

* Kaipara Coast Garden Centre and Sculpture Garden. 1481 Kaipara Coast Highway Kaukapakapa. Ph (09) 420 5655.

* Art Stop Cafe. 5 Commercial Rd, Helensville. Ph (09) 420 8580.