An Environment Court judge and commissioners yesterday visited Piha on Auckland's west coast to inspect the site of a controversial cafe proposal.
Judge Gordon Whiting said Piha looked "stunningly beautiful".
Later, he and commissioners Kevin Prime and Dr Alexander Sutherland lunched at a cafe at the sister beach village of Muriwai.
They visited Muriwai because its cafe will be compared with the Piha proposal in evidence to be given on traffic and wastewater treatment demands.
The court is hearing appeals by the Protect Piha Heritage Society and the cafe company, Preserve Piha, against resource consents issued a year ago by the Auckland Regional Council and the Waitakere City Council.
The cafe company seeks changes to some of the consent conditions, while fighting off the heritage society's bid to have the decision cancelled and resource consent refused.
The society claims the cafe will encourage urbanisation.
On the first day of the case, the heritage society was led by ARC Parks chairwoman Sandra Coney, who has a house at Piha.
She was joined by Kath Dewarof the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, who was Green Party candidate for New Lynn in the general election.
Television personality and former All Black Marc Ellis and four surfing mates are directors of Preserve Piha. They bought the site from Telecom in May 2006.
Ellis was not in court but active directors Andrew Higgs and David Bensley answered questions on their evidence.
Counsel for the company Martin Williams said in his submissions that the society's challenge to the cafe was misdirected.
"The cafe is not opposed by the society because of what it actually is, or because of any demonstrable effect it may create, but because it is perceived to symbolise or represent change to certain members of that society."
Mr Williams said the Resource Management Act was about sustainable management of change.
The applicants confirmed widespread support for any change which the cafe represented, including its benefits as a focal point for daytime interaction, available to members of, and visitors to, a growing coastal community.
The case continues today.