Bringing you the best of East Auckland

When we talk about the Eastern suburbs, the very first thing that springs to mind is the river.

The Tāmaki River, flowing from East Māngere into a tidal estuary on the Waitematā, used to be a key route for Māori navigating the waters between the North Shore and Manukau. 

The beautiful and scenic Rotary Walkway along the Tāmaki River 

Today, East Auckland has developed into a much-desired suburb, covering a vast area with multiple neighbourhoods - old and new, affluent and up-and-coming.

The northernmost section, along the river and coastline, is where the more prestigious and established homes are. This is the area we’ll be focussing on, and we have asked two top Barfoot & Thompson sales professionals - Mandy Huang (Highland Park) and Anuj Bisht (Pakuranga) - to help us with some Q&A. They’re both passionate Eastern suburb locals; they know the area well and are familiar with the market here.

Q: What are the advantages of living in the Eastern suburbs, from a resident's point of view?

Mandy: From restful inlet views to the open sea, the northern part of the Eastern suburbs offers a stunning outlook, with gorgeous scenery and relatively flat land. It is an area that attracts a wide range of people - from professionals and businessmen to families, artists and musicians. Interestingly, part of Sunnyhills was owned and developed by the famous Fisher & Paykel family, which is why you have street names such as Fisher Parade and Paykel Ave. 

There are some excellent primary, intermediate and high schools in the area. Macleans College is the only public school in New Zealand that is rated among the Top10 high schools in the country. St Kentigern High School is an elite private school that offers high quality IB academic education, and has a first-rate reputation for sports, music and athletics. Botany High and Pakuranga High School are also highly reputable.

In terms of transport and convenience to the city, places like Sunnyhills and Farm Cove enjoy easy access to the motorway; it’s only a 15-minute drive to the CBD during off-peak. Half Moon Bay has a ferry terminal for an easy commute by water, so a guaranteed 30-minute trip, even during peak hours. 

Anuj: The Eastern suburbs are unique in their own way from the rest of Auckland. The relatively undeveloped coastline enhances the beauty of the natural landscape. 

In terms of living here, there are many advantages. It’s an easy commute to the city thanks to the buses and trains, and also the ferries from Half Moon Bay. Shopping-wise, Sylvia Park (the country’s largest mall), Pakuranga Plaza, Botany Mall are within easy reach to all the Easterners. You have some great schools and colleges to choose from. Beautiful beaches for family outings, parks and forests for exercising and bush walks, art centres to explore your creativity, an array of water sports for adventure and water lovers, great cafés and restaurants for the food lovers – this region has something for everyone!

Q: Which streets do you highly recommend?

Mandy: Each area has its own merits, some have beautiful scenery, some have top school zoning, it depends on what the buyer is looking for. 

The streets around the Rotary Walkway and Half Moon Bay Pier have historical heritage; they’re well established and beautifully presented. Even small units come with great gardens. 

The Parade, Music Point Rd, Devon Rd and Clovelly Rd are close to Bucklands Beach Primary and Intermediate School – and they boast broad sea views. If you want to be in the Macleans College school zone and prefer a more modern home (still with views), you could consider streets like Takutai Ave and Compass Point Way. Alternatively, prestigious streets such as Fisher Parade, Paykel Ave, Fordyce Ave and The Bramley have a lot to offer. 

Anuj: There are quite a few streets and localities I’d recommend, but of course it depends on the individual’s requirements. 

For starters, Pakuranga is great. The neighbourhoods off Cascade Road (Walworth Avenue, Hope Farm and Reelick Avenue) are in great school zones; proximity to the shopping malls and Half Moon Bay Marina is close. The streets are safe and have a great community vibe. 

On the other hand, Sunnyhills and Farm Cove are popular with families looking to buy in the more premium neighbourhoods. Butley Drive, Prince Regent, Imogene Way in Farm Cove, and Glenmore Road, Stanniland Street in Sunnyhills are some good areas to check out. Clovelly Road and The Parade (Bucklands Beach / St Heliers) are a few other high-end neighbourhoods close to the beaches.

The Parade is a prime spot

Q: How is the current real estate market performing in this part of Auckland?

Mandy: According to the latest REINZ data, Eastern Beach hit the highest average price ($2.23 million) and has experienced the fastest growth of all the surrounding neighbourhoods (up 89% in the past five years, 2017-2022). Sunnyhills and Farm Cove follow close behind, with a median price of $1.86 million and $1.8 million respectively, up 54% and 29% from five years ago. Meanwhile, the sales volume is highest in Bucklands Beach, followed by Half Moon Bay.

Anuj: There are not as many developers or investors looking to buy at the moment, so there are definitely more properties to choose from. This is great news for first-home buyers or people that are looking to upsize, as they can explore more options. There are some excellent properties in places like Pakuranga, Howick, Half Moon Bay and Botany - with 1960’s and 70’s weatherboard houses, with a decent land area, and in a good school zone. 

Q: What’re your tips and suggestions for buyers looking in this area?

Mandy: If you are looking at school zones, it’s important to know that properties on the same street in the same neighbourhood may not necessarily be in the same zone. For example, Bucklands Beach Road is a very long road, and only half of it falls into the Macleans College zone. Experienced agents will know the precise zoning details, so it’s best to talk to your agent about this in advance. 

If you want to buy a property with the intention of developing, you will need to check if there are any restrictions on the title (talk to your lawyer). Neighbourhoods such as Sunnyhill, Farm Cove and Half Moon Bay often do have properties with land covenants in place. 

I always say it’s important to consider your personal circumstances (family structure, work situation, future life plans etc) when thinking of settling somewhere. You want to make sure that the community you choose is the right one for you. 

Anuj: The first step is to prepare a checklist with your non-negotiable and negotiable requirements for the property. Get a trusted team of a good mortgage advisor, lawyer, agent, and if required a builder too. Attend as many open homes and auctions as you can. Do your own research – explore different property-related websites, drive around the neighbourhoods that you are interested in. Very importantly, consider things that will follow, after the purchase.

Macleans College and its incredible school grounds