Xanthe White, landscaper, writer, TV presenter on her Auckland

I grew up in a little city. We went to Playcentre at the local marae and a primary school in the middle of horse paddocks with a maximum roll of 75. We swam and fished after school.

We weren't rich and a lot around us were quite poor, but every family had their own quarter-acre, a lemon tree and a clothesline to swing around on. We ate sandwiches everyday for lunch and pies for treats. As we grew into teenagers we would go into the city from the suburbs on the bus to the terminal - which you never actually went inside unless you were desperate for the toilet, because that was where the old men sat, smoking. We'd then head up to mid-city for a movie. Down by Mission Bay, our local beach, a cafe opened and we used to meet for coffees, feeling very sophisticated.

I've never really left that little city in my mind but somewhere along the way it grew up into something big, fast and flash.

The sea has not moved but even the sand has become more golden, with the rocky shore covered over. I like this big city and I'm caught in its web. The young people live in apartments, car-free and have sophisticated foodie tastes and keep me on my toes.


My family and friends are all in this city and I do love it but sometimes I feel the speed of it discourages laziness. The good kind of laziness that devours afternoons with books or watching the sky - that is good for dreamers.

1: Maungawhau

I love the maunga. We lived on the side of M t Eden when I was pregnant with both children and we explored every path and trail through the years and still when we climb it - while it is familiar - it feels as if it' has yet to be discovered. It has an awesome flying fox, too.

2: Bastion Point

So close to my family home, this piece of land is one I greatly treasure. My brother and his friends used to go eeling here when they were young. We kissed boyfriends in the bunkers on romantic walks. We'd go to Tamaki Yacht club for a swim and down the steps to Mission Bay for icecream. I love, too, how this land has continued to grow. We've been to planting days up there recently, putting trees where we used to chase the cows when we were kids. I find the history of the land confronting but honest. The bunkers, the marae, the memorial to [Michael Joseph] Savage all together. We lived there when the army came and took the owners off their land and when it was returned. You can explain a lot about Auckland history walking across these ridges.

3: Rangitoto

Like many Aucklanders, we looked upon this volcano from our Rangitoto room. I used to spend a lot of time imagining it exploding and writing poems about it. We would take overseas visitor to the top when ever they came. As children we reckoned we'd swim there one day ... maybe.

4: Karekare

This is my place of immersion and I've not escaped there enough of late. It's where we were married, beneath the pohutukawas. A perfect place to start a life together.

5: K Rd

This is where our studio is and where our last two were as well. It's always been where the music and the art is. It's been a bit grimy and dicey at times but there's an energy that comes from that. As the gentrification slowly creeps in you can feel some of that energy slip away and it makes you feel a bit old. There's nothing like having young people dancing around you to help you forget your age.