Fifteen minutes from the heart of Auckland city and just off the North Western Motorway is a wee jewel of a suburban community. Surrounded on three sides by the Waitemata Harbour and Henderson estuary, Te Atatu Peninsula has a little bit of everything. Surrounding a large part of its land mass is a walkway that starts at the Pony Club and winds around the edge of the coastline through wetland and coastal heights, with spanning views of the harbour bridge and North Shore, Auckland City, and Pt. Chevalier.
The city-side of the walkway features a protected wetland area, home to numerous native birds – fernbirds, banded rail, dotterels, spur-winged plovers being just a few. This is also an area where eastern bar-tailed Godwits spend time after the longest non-stop flight from western Alaska and back. The walkway is popular for walkers and runners, and dogs can be walked here on a leash. Around the end of the peninsula, the walkway flows on boardwalk and bridges, sometimes across shelly beach, to wind up in the suburbs after leaving marshland.
Te Atatu Peninsula is relatively flat, and four kilometres long and three kilometres wide. This is a vibrant and varied residential area of over 12,000 people, some living in homes that have been here since the 1800s, but the majority are fifty years old or less with many uniquely designed homes in new subdivisions. Care has been given to providing pleasant pathways and cycle paths, bordered by trees and gardens, and plenty of room for outdoor recreation.
The people of the Peninsula are a broad mix of cultures, the majority European in origin, although there are nearly 20% who are Māori, and 11% who are Pacific in background. A third of the community were born overseas, the most common of these being Asian. Some of the best times to see the community in action are at the following: A Night Market in the summertime, when there are stalls selling food, clothing, art, to the beat of local music. On Saturdays, games are often being played on any of the parks around the Peninsula (more about the Sports teams later). Anzac Day and Christmas feature street parades that involve the local community and are well supported.
Every two years in March the Harbourview Sculpture Trail is situated in the wetlands down from the walkway and is an ideal setting for around fifty installations. A dedicated Facebook page has nearly 10,000 members and regular postings from helpful tips, to traffic accident notifications, to discussions about lost pets. This is the kind of community where people leave bags of lemons out for anyone to pick up, or offer items for free on the Facebook page.
There are many smaller communities that make up the whole neighbourhood here, and some of these are centred around the churches that dot the Peninsula. Virtually every denomination is represented. A hospice receives support through the local Op Shop and through fund-raising events. The RSA enjoys a lively patronage and is strongly represented at ANZAC functions.
Te Atatu Peninsula boasts one high school (Rutherford College), one Intermediate School (Te Atatu), three primary schools (Matipo, Peninsula and Rutherford), and three pre-schools (First Steps Te Atatu, Montessori Peninsula, and Rutherford).
In the very heart of this lively neighbourhood is the main shopping centre and Countdown Supermarket, but the new library and community centre is the focal point. There are four meeting rooms and a large gymnasium as part of the centre, and available for rent. Classes and events of all sorts take place at or near the Community Centre, from School Holiday programmes, Yoga, Zumba, to Fashion Shows. You can keep up with Events here. The library, which has space for children’s programmes and computer study area, features huge glass doors that open out onto the children’s play area and a memorial park where ANZAC Day is annually celebrated.
Long before the new Community Centre and Library, there has been a Community House that still serves the locals. Here you can attend classes that offer anything from Inland Revenue assistance to knitting and crochet classes. First Aid classes are held, along with Sign Language lessons, and anything to do with Legal Aid. A Justice of the Peace is available every week or by appointment. In terms of services for this community, a purpose-built medical complex built in the last ten years is situated at the entrance to the Peninsula. It features a large medical centre Peninsula Medical, along with associated services like physiotherapy, podiatry and pharmacy.
If you are in the mood to meet friends over coffee, you can choose from at least four popular and iconic cafes service the area. There is Servo, which is near Rutherford College, and Fuze, serving food from their own kitchen in the centre of the township. The Demolition Deli serves coffee and baked items as well as having grocery and dairy delicacies, and the Delicious Foodstore, which has a large play area for children. Restaurants include Et Tu Bistro, a family-run business inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, the Thai Peninsula, and Shahi Dawat Indian Restaurant. There are also numerous take-out food places where – as well as fish and chips – you can buy kebabs, pasta, pizza and Asian cuisine. A recently opened business centre with an Anytime Fitness gym at one end has more familiar fast food outlets below it, such as MacDonald’s and Tank.
There is plenty to offer here in the Peninsula for those who love sports. Rugby League is represented and the Te Atatu Roosters have a club ground and home near the college. The Te Atatu AFC are also well supported here. There is a tennis club situated at the Intermediate School, and not far from there, is the Te Atatu Bowling Club. At the entrance to the Peninsula, you can see the fields and horses belonging to the Te Atatu Pony Club, a rare sight so close to the heart of Auckland City. Surrounded by water as the Peninsula is, of course, there is a Rowing Club and Canoe & Multisport Club, as well as a Sailing Club. The Western Judo Academy meets on Wharf Road.
It is possible to cycle from Te Atatu Peninsula into the city almost all the way on dedicated cycleways, and the new cycle paths that form a network throughout West Auckland have encouraged cyclists everywhere to get on their bikes. Bike Te Atatu is an active and supportive group for anyone keen to take part. And for those who do not cycle or drive, you can hop on board a bus. An excellent bus service (AT Transport buses 131 and 132) circles the centre of the Peninsula and goes off to either the centre of Auckland City or to Henderson City. A trip on the bus lanes at rush hour will take 30 – 40 minutes, but much less in the middle of the day.
Te Atatu Peninsula, by its very geographical shape, enclosed by the harbour and accessible through the motorway to the North and South, is a community that treasures its people and its environment. People do not pass through – they come to stay and connect. It is the sort of place that has something to offer anyone, whether they are older and wanting a quieter pace of life, a family who need a wide range of activities and support networks, independent people with active lifestyles or looking to be involved in a caring community. Have a look at what has recently sold in Te Atatu Peninsula if you are interested in living in this awesome suburb of West Auckland.
See some historic photos of the Te Atatu Peninsula here.
See the local demographics here.