Where to for na­tion’s best beach?

Coastal News - - Front Page - By LES­LEY STANI­LAND news@nzme.co.nz

NZ Her­ald read­ers have voted Whanga­mata the top beach in the coun­try.

So what does that mean for our town’s fu­ture?

Our real es­tate com­pa­nies have slightly dif­fer­ing opin­ions on whether prop­erty prices will be af­fected.

Har­courts Whanga­mata owner Paul Prouse said Whanga­mata cer­tainly de­served the award.

“We have an amaz­ing beach, there are a num­ber of things to see and do, along with great shops, restau­rants, cafes, clubs and a friendly com­mu­nity,” Mr Prouse said.

“In my opinion prop­erty prices will keep in­creas­ing and this award just helps to fuel de­mand. There is al­ready strong de­mand for the right prop­er­ties.

“On the other side of the coin you can still buy a house close to shops and in walk­ing dis­tance to the beach for around $600,000. Cou­pled with strong de­mand for rental prop­erty it is a good time to be in the mar­ket.”

Steve Mor­ri­son, prin­ci­pal of Ray White Whanga­mata, said the the award was fan­tas­tic for Whanga­mata.

“It’s an­other en­dorse­ment for our won­der­ful place. While be­ing the top beach in NZ is great ku­dos, the prop­erty mar­ket in Whanga­mata and NZ as a whole has seen some sig­nif­i­cant lift in the past two years and, more re­cently, there have been signs across NZ that there is a flat­ten­ing of prices.

“I think any changes in the econ­omy like in­ter­est rates and gov­ern­ment pol­icy (like ban­ning for­eign own­er­ship) have the po­ten­tial to in­flu­ence the real es­tate mar­ket in Whanga­mata to a greater de­gree than win­ning the best beach. The Her­ald has just told ev­ery­one what we all know al­ready!”

Murray Cle­land, prin­ci­pal of Whanga­mata Real Es­tate, said the Her­ald ar­ti­cle was great for pro­mot­ing Whanga­mata and all that it had to of­fer to peo­ple who hol­i­day here or just come for the week­end.

“In re­gards to prop­erty prices, it will have lit­tle ef­fect as the cur­rent mar­ket has been solid for some time. With few op­por­tu­ni­ties for fu­ture res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment and the fact that Whanga­mata is some­what land locked, this will play a part in hold­ing the cur­rent prop­erty prices.

“The fu­ture de­vel­op­ment will come from the old 1950/60s baches be­ing bought and re­placed with new homes.”

First Na­tional Real Es­tate prin­ci­pal Gordon Turner said prop­erty prices would con­tinue to rise re­gard­less of the Best Beach tag.

“Whanga­mata has the abil­ity to out­price it­self as it’s al­ready now quite ex­pen­sive.

“The av­er­age sale price is now well into the $600,000s and ris­ing. It’s dif­fi­cult to find prop­er­ties of any sort un­der $500,000 and new sec­tions now start at $275,000,” Mr Turner said.

“My only con­cern is that val­ues will reach a level where they are un­af­ford­able and this will cause a slump in the mar­ket or what we call in real es­tate ‘a cor­rec­tion’ to pull prices back and start the ball rolling again.

“We have a good and sta­ble mar­ket cur­rently with 20 to 30 sales per month in the area, and the me­te­oric rise of prices pre2017 has come and gone. Long may the sta­tus quo con­tinue.

“I don’t see that Best Beach will have any dra­matic ef­fect on prop­erty val­ues in the short term, and most likely will be just a flash in the pan. How­ever, ini­tia­tives like Par­adise Coast I see as hav­ing legs and ul­ti­mately en­hanc­ing long term growth and con­nec­tion on our part of the east­ern seaboard.” Sarah Ellery be­gan her new job as man­ager of the Whanga­mata Mo­tor Camp last week, so she was pretty chuffed to hear that Whanga had been voted New Zealand’s Best Beach. So what makes it so spe­cial for young and old, fam­i­lies and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors?

“It’s clean. It’s got ev­ery­thing — great surf, a bridge for kids to jump off, it’s got the es­tu­ary, which is safe for the lit­tle ones, there’s boo­gie board­ing for the older ones.

“It’s just the best place to have a hol­i­day. It’s a great walk­ing lo­ca­tion and the streets are easy to bike around.”

Events such as the five-day Beach Hop, which cel­e­brates the music, cars and fash­ion of the 50s and 60s, and Brits at the Beach, which at­tracts hun­dreds of UK ex­pats, make sure that the hol­i­day vibe con­tin­ues through­out the sum­mer.

Fun runs, the town’s moun­tain-bike park and tramp­ing in the sur­round­ing bush add to the leisure op­por­tu­ni­ties, she says.

“It’s the clas­sic Kiwi hol­i­day place that caters to all ages.”

Matt Wil­liams, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Surf Life Sav­ing NZ’S north­ern re­gion and one of three beach ex­perts who short-listed the 10 fi­nal­ists from hun­dreds of nom­i­na­tions by Her­ald read­ers, wasn’t sur­prised at the win­ner and run­nerup, Mat­apouri Bay in North­land.

When he and fel­low-judges Karin Bryan of Waikato Univer­sity and singer­song­writer-surfer Jamie Mcdell mused over the es­sen­tial qual­i­ties of not just a great, but the great­est beach, they agreed defin­ing that was a pretty tall or­der.

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