Guide To: Kohimarama and St Heliers
Despite its calm, suburban exterior one of the great things about St Heliers and its surrounding suburbs (henceforth referred to as ‘The Bays’) is that there’s actually lots do. Whether it’s a beautiful sunny day or the clouds are rolling in the waterfront is always a pretty stunning escape. I think I can also safely say that it boasts one of the most picturesque commutes to the city (and it’s hard to be angry at traffic when you’re taking in such an amazing view).
The most popular recreational pursuits around these parts are clearly running, skating or biking along the waterfront (dog or child optional) and it’s a great place to people watch. On any given day you might find girls rollerblading (often with a smitten but embarrassed boyfriend running after them), see an old man doing a crossword on one of the many park benches facing the sea, or dodge an actual tandem bike ridden by a groovy young couple (thank you for not running me down if you’re reading this). On one of my walks I even passed by a sophisticated tea party hosted by 10 year old who was calmly waiting at a small table for two, her 3-tiered cupcake holder overflowing with her baking handiwork.
When it comes to entertainment, visitors to the area often default to the obvious choices like mini-golf at Lilliputt or an aquarium experience at Kelly Tarlton’s
. Although these can make for a fun way to pass a couple of hours I’ve learned that The Bays deserves more much more thorough investigation. Grab a book from the St Heliers library and sit down in one of the cafes, fight off the Sunday afternoon back-to-work blues with a drink down by the water, or head out for brunch to the highly revered local Café on Kohi
which offers hands down the best brekky in the region (and they’re not averse to serving up some Tattinger or a cheeky Duetz by the glass either).
Alternatively trek up to the lookout at the top of Cliff Road in St Heliers for a great outlook over Rangitoto, venture up the palm-lined drive of the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial where amazing views (and very fat seagulls) await you; or just pick up a meal-to-go at the The Store on Kohi (shout yourself a macaroon whilst you’re there) and head down to the beach for nice evening picnic.
If you’re into your sport (and who in this country isn’t?) Mission Bay to St Heliers is a sporting mecca and offers some great opportunities to get amongst it, no matter what level you’re at. Sign up over summer to Mission Bay’s Stroke and Stride series or enlist in the annual Bean Rock Lighthouse swim. Explore one of the local sailing clubs or even hire a kayak from Olympic multi gold medallist Ian Ferguson’s shop ‘Fergs Kayaks’ in Orakei on Tamaki Drive. If spectating is more your thing head down to Kohi Beach when the wind is up and you’re likely to find a cluster of kite surfers, set against the epic backdrop of Rangitoto, making the most of some very messy weather.
After poking my head over the odd interesting fence in the township I’ve also recently discovered the St Heliers Tennis Club. Metres from the beach, amidst perfectly manicured hedges, pretty potted flowers and freshly mowed grass I was actually tempted to take up the beginners adult classes on offer, despite the imposingly efficient instructor coaching some eager prodigies (anyone in sporting positions of authority scare me). I have no idea about court quality but they looked just fine. In fact they looked green, lovely and- if I played tennis- inviting.
Backing onto the tennis courts, in a daring display of proximity, you’ll also find St Heliers Bowling Club and it’s an aesthetic gem. Pretty as a picture and immaculate I did wonder whether any unsuspecting bowlers had ever been victim to the odd rogue, airborne tennis-ball missile but I’m confident this is fairly unlikely. I’m still not sure how they’d respond to a slightly rowdy party of Generation X-ers signing up for a game over summer but if their offer “New Members Welcome” can be taken at face value I have high hopes for beers and bowls when December rolls around.
In this neighbourhood you can easily find yourself throwing around smug phrases like ‘quality of life’ and ‘community’ but out-these-here-parts there truly is a genuine sense of unity and conviviality. Perhaps the thing I love most about The Eastern Bays though is this: that you are constantly being reminded of the outside world and its possibilities, and continually invited to participate.
Sally Turier - A St Helier Local Hero