Watching a boat sailing in moody weather at Northcote wharf © anupamhatui

Loved by the locals: North Shore

North Shore, Auckland
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1. Literary walks

Before the Harbour Bridge was opened, the North Shore was a retreat for artistic types, and many well-known plays, short stories and novels were penned here.

Literary walks around Devonport, Takapuna and Castor Bay meander past the homes of writers past and present, from ARD Fairburn to Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame.

I like the idea that I share much the same ‘writing view’ as D’Arcy Cresswell, even though the Castor Bay bach where he held his writerly soirées is long gone.

Another of the Shore’s literary greats is celebrated each year on Christmas Day, when actor Stephen Lovatt performs scenes from Bruce Mason’s The End of the Golden Weather on Takapuna Beach, where the play is set.

2. Under the bridge

Even when the rest of the Shore is busy, Northcote Point is an oasis of calm, and a great place to go for a stroll. Streets of pretty Victorian villas sit up high above the inner harbour, with only the faintest hum of the motorway to remind you of the approaches to the Harbour Bridge nearby.

At the end of the point, the road drops down to water level so you can look up at Auckland’s most iconic structure, then clamber up a few steps and walk right underneath it – there’s some unexpectedly cool artwork decorating the piers supporting the clip-on lanes.

Along the way you can stop at Sausalito for a coffee or the Northcote Tavern for a beer in the sunshine – or both.

3. Going bush

Even though the North Shore is well-settled, it still has its wild places. Pockets of bush persist within the suburbs, and there are walking trails in places like Le Roys Bush, running from Birkenhead’s busy Onewa Road down to the wetlands at Little Shoal Bay; the Chatswood Reserve; Eskdale Reserve in Glenfield; and Smiths Bush in Northcote, hewn in two by the construction of the Northern Motorway in the 1950s but still going strong.

4. Champion gelato

You might have to queue up, especially on the hottest days, but it’s worth the wait for the award-winning gelato at Takapuna Beach Café and Store.

The flavours change, but my pick is the classic honeycomb (think hokey pokey on steroids) or, if you’re lucky, coconut chocolate. One scoop is seldom enough...

5. More than books

Devonport might have its trendy cafés and cutesy cottages, but it’s also got a very cool public library. Situated in a prime position ‘downtown’ on the Windsor Reserve, the Athfield Architects-designed library does its location proud.

Big windows in the children’s area look out to the harbour, there’s a Playschool-like round window in the teen area which doubles as a seat, and the architectural detailing throughout make it a work of art. 

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