The Big Picture
Avondale: The Fast-Changing Suburb with Soul
Sitting on the city’s doorstep – and gateway to our West Coast beaches – Avondale is a suburb superficially familiar to many of us. We know the racecourse and market and spider which carry the name: we will have passed through it on rail, bus and car missions into town or else out West.
Less than 8km to the CBD, 5km to Titirangi and just 2km to New Lynn, Avondale is perfectly-positioned to all Auckland has to offer. But less obvious is the fact is that it has a neat village vibe all of its own, along with its share of hidden gems. Avondale rewards good research. Let’s take a look.
First up you don’t need a car to live here. Buses stop right outside your door, while the Avondale train station is 600m up the road, travel time to the CBD around half an hour. Pedalling it? Avondale is especially well-served via Auckland’s burgeoning cycleway network with paths and tracks into town, out west and beyond.
But if you’re driving, then the Northwestern motorway (SH 16) is 2km up Great North Road. Outside peak hour, it’s less than 10 minutes’ drive into town, five minutes to neighbouring New Lynn, 15 minutes to the airport.
Under the distinctive Avondale spider sculpture, a new Avondale is starting to take shape. The town centre itself is getting a $21 million facelift – a new town square, library and community centre.
Avondale’s fabled multiculturalism is energetically evident at the legendary Avondale Markets, the largest and buzziest in the land. Get everything you need at a bustle of fruit and veggie stalls, plus the most marvellous Pasifika or Asian delicacies. Then there’s the impossible-to-categorise curios: if you’re after a push mower or old school tools or Super-8 camera or natty old suit or a thousand different trinkets then... this will become your Sunday morning ritual.
Food, Flicks etc
Outside the transformative town centre are the shoots of organic regeneration. Two standout examples: Browne St., just 300m from Aroha, is a fine café by day, one of Auckland’s best gastro pubs by night. Right across the road you’ll find Barbarino’s Spaghetteria, famed for its delicious and unpretentious traditional Italian comfort food. Pro tip: go for the Siciliana Ravioli with with Boscaiola sauce.
Hiding in plain sight is the neoclassical Hollywood Cinema, the oldest single-screen cinema in Auckland. It screens cool and quirky films, and formerly hosted the world’s longest uninterrupted run of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
After pretty much everything? LynnMall has the 130-store range of a giant shopping mall, a movie complex and an impressive outdoor dining precinct dubbed ‘The Brickworks’.
Parks and leisure
The Whau Creek runs through Avondale and there’s a plethora of little mangrove-fringed reserves and walkways to explore. The largest is Heron Park, a seven-minute stroll from Aroha. It has a loop path for all ages and abilities, a playground with a flying fox, and oodles of space for perambulating dogs. Look out for the matuku moana, the white-faced heron the park was named after.
Nearby Waterview reserve has an epic kids’ playground, splash pad and BMX tracks as well as basketball, netball and volleyball courts. And back across Great North Road, there’s something special – the oasis of Oakley Creek, a meandering bush walk that leads to an entirely unexpected and ethereal 6m waterfall. Perfection!
Bike: The Waterview Shared Path links up to the Northwestern Cycleway for easy cycling to the city.
Bus: Services shuttle along Great North Road to Auckland city centre every 10-15 minutes.
Train: Avondale Station is within easy walking distance.
Car: Quick access to the Northwestern motorway (SH16), and the Southwestern motorway (SH20) via the Waterview Connection.
Primary: Avondale Primary School
Intermediate: Avondale Intermediate
Secondary: Avondale College
** DISCLAIMER ** And confession. In case you're thinking our ode to Avondale is a bit effusive, we have to own up. Nearly a quarter of the Ockham crew were born, bred, schooled in Avondale. They're extremely patriotic so forgive their/our enthusiasm!