Beach Haven is a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand and is located north-west from the city’s CBD. It has 3492 households and 1037 residents. The area has gentrified rapidly over recent years as young professionals move into the area.
Prior to European settlement, the Beach Haven area was covered to the water’s edge by thick bush, pohutukawa, ferns and giant kauri trees. Maori tribes inhabited the area, but were decimated by wars and finally succumbed to the newly acquired guns of Hongi Hika. In 1844 the area was sold to the Government and became deserted. One of the first settlers in the district established an orchard near Soldier’s Bay and as the kauri trees were gradually removed from the land, it was found to be an ideal place for fruit growing, especially grapes and strawberries. Most of the kauri trees taken out were used by boat builders for masts and spurs.
The first European settlers arrived in the 1860s and by the 1880s the area was a popular summer resort, with many city dwellers making the trip across the harbour to Island Bay for excursions and holidays.
Up until the 1920s the area was rural, largely made up of market gardens growing fruit (mostly strawberries) and vegetables for the growing city across the harbour. Most of this produce was transported by water. There were also sawmills in the area, the evidence of which could be seen for decades in the form of abandoned machinery and mounds of sawdust. The area was always popular as a holiday destination, evidence of which can still be seen today in some of the remaining baches.
In 1923, the Birkdale Land Company bought and surveyed the land around where the wharf is now and it was then marketed as the Beach Haven Estate, “the Gem of the Waitemata.”
After the construction of the Harbour Bridge in 1959, housing subdivisions completed the transformation into an urban area.
Beach Haven forms part of the North Shore Ward and Kaipatiki Local Board under the Auckland Council. Prior to 2010, the area had been administered as part of the Birkenhead Borough Council and then as part of North Shore City Council.
Under the voting district for elections to the Parliament of New Zealand it forms part of the Northcote electorate.
Facilities, Services and Amenities
Beach Haven has one main shopping area with a variety of shops, including a French cafe, two bakeries, a post office, a gym and a police community constable office. There are several preschools and one primary school that serve the area. Churches in the area include the Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Mormon and Assembly Of God.
Beach Haven is surrounded by many beaches which are suitable for swimming, including Charcoal Bay which is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the Waitemata Harbour. The area also has a wharf which is a very popular feature of Beach Haven. The biggest park in Beach Haven is Shepherd’s Park which has a 1.6 km walk through native bush beside Oruamo/Hellyers Creek, as well as squash, bowling and tennis facilities. It also has rugby and soccer grounds and is home to Birkenhead United AFC.
Beach Haven is well serviced by bus connections to Takapuna and the CBD. In August 2012 after years of delays, Auckland Transport announced that it would spend NZ$1.35m to upgrade the wharf at Beach Haven, allowing a ferry service to the city to begin at the start of 2013 to coincide with a new service to Hobsonville. It was expected that this new service will ease traffic congestion on Onewa Road and service the wider areas of Glenfield and Birkdale. The ferry service opened with five sailings a day in February 2013. Beach Haven and Hobsonville wharves are the first new ferry services to be built in Auckland in 50 years.
Culture & Community
Beach Haven is one of the most diverse areas of the North Shore. There is a very strong sense of community which centres on the village shops at the intersection of Beach Haven and Rangatira Roads. The Beach Haven Placemaking Project has established a garden on the site of the former post office. A complete garden project (funded by local council) began construction in April 2015 and is due to be completed by the end of the year.
In 2013, the community learned that the Beach Haven Methodist Church – which sits on a prominent site in the village – was to be demolished by the Lifewise trust to make way for accessible housing units. The church was built by the community in one day in 1939 using donated timber. “We are dismayed at the prospect of losing the old church building which was built in 1939 in one day by the Beach Haven community,” said Lisbeth Alley of the Heart of Beach Haven group. The group and the trust have committed to working together to find a way of keeping the church.
Parts of the area are poorer than other North Shore suburbs, leaving it with something of an unfair reputation. In recent years, there has been a concerted community effort to improve both the reality and the reputation of the area. In 2013, the Kaipatiki Community Policing Project won a national award.
The hip hop artist Sir T. grew up in Beach Haven and often raps about the area. His single “Invincible” was filmed around Lysander Crescent.
Beach Haven is increasingly being discovered by young professional families because of its new ferry service, access to the water, friendly community and laid-back lifestyle. Prices increased by an average of 44 per cent between 2011 and 2014, though the suburb is still considered to be underpriced compared to its neighbours.
In October 2012, Metro magazine reported Beach Haven had shown one of the biggest increases in property prices in the city over the previous 10 years (admittedly off a lower base than other areas) and named it “One to watch”. The magazine was particularly enthusiastic about Island Bay Road. In 2014, Metro named Beach Haven one of Auckland’s hottest suburbs, noting: “A new ferry service, a meandering coastline offering all sorts of delights and a growing sense of community make Beach Haven one of the new hot spots. Still pretty cheap, but we doubt it will stay that way.” Houses near the water are especially desirable, with the area around Beach Haven Wharf increasingly referred to as “Beach Haven Point”. In September 2015, The New Zealand Herald reported that Beach Haven was one of the city’s “20 hottest suburbs” with a 31.5% rise in median price between February-July 2014 and February-July 2015.
Houses are a mix of original character baches, 1950s and 1960s bungalows, as well as architecturally designed homes near the water. Many houses have waterfront access and jetties.
Beach Haven School is a coeducational contributing primary (years 1-6) school with a decile rating of 4 and a roll of 328. Kauri Park School is a coeducational primary with a decile rating of 7 and a roll of 350. Both schools pride themselves on their multi-cultural make-up. The local college is Birkenhead college situated between Beach Haven and Birkdale