The glistening waters of Mangawhai are a big draw for people wanting to leave the rat race behind.
Following the Kaipara District Council’s botched wastewater scheme, rates went up by 50 per cent for some properties in the seaside town.
But this hasn’t stopped Aucklanders wanting to escape snarled motorways, expensive houses and big city stresses and take the plunge to a more tranquil life.
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They’ve swapped the city life for the surf, sand dunes and picturesque estuary of the town dubbed ‘Magical’.
The exodus saw the Kaipara town, just across the super-city border, at number eight on a list of top 20 Auckland property hotspots for house price growth in the twelve months to February.
The average house price rose 31 per cent to $637,000.
Chantelle Campbell thought her husband was crazy when he suggested moving their family to Mangawhai from Auckland’s North Shore.
They had renovated and sold their home in Torbay and were house hunting.
She thought she could never leave her family and friends in the area she and her husband grew up in with the social life, shops, restaurants and great schools her family enjoyed.
But after her ‘hundredth’ open home on the Shore she agreed thinking they would build properly on the land they’d bought for a bach and then move back.
After living a year in Mangawhai, Campbell said it was the best decision ever and she couldn’t imagine leaving.
“I love it. The beaches, people, amazing community and schools.
“We got to build new which wouldn’t have been an option on coastal North Shore,” she said.
Campbell says her two boys love it, too, and she has started her own business, Food by Chantelle, doing cooking lessons, demonstrations and catering.
Chris Rhodes moved his family to the area full time two years ago.
Originally from Tauranga, he returned to New Zealand from Tokyo with his partner Miko and children Shia and Meila, after 12 years abroad.
Pregnant with Shia, the two wanted to live in rural New Zealand to raise their family, and with Tauranga growing fast were attracted to Northland or the further northern reaches of Auckland.
“I’ve always thought it’s untouched nature – and good value for money,” Rhodes said.
He settled in the Mangawhai area due to stunning beaches and the option of a lifestyle property still close to Auckland Airport for regular trips back to Japan.
The two settled on neighbouring Te Arai where they keep sheep and chickens, and grow fruit and vegetables with an aim to be sustainable and self sufficient.
They built their garage first, then lived in it while Rhodes built the house.
“I wanted an activity to get back in to the New Zealand community, so figured building our family house would be a great place to start. It was also a bucket list activity I wanted to tick off,” he said.
Rhodes works with a beekeeper in Kaiwaka, his children go to Mangawhai Kindy and Before Six Mangawhai and number three is on the way.
“We absolutely love living up here.”