Helensville, the best of the west

July 24, 2019

As Auckland continues to stake its claim as a global supercity, the Helensville township – just a 40-minute drive from the CBD – has been earmarked as a spot to watch. The small, rural community is experiencing somewhat of a revival as new businesses set up shop, significant development projects come to fruition, and floods of people from across the country eye it up as a place to call home.

What’s fuelling Helensville’s growth trajectory is in large part thanks to the considerable growth across Auckland’s northwest, the benefits of which are cascading to the outermost western regions, and which don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. 

Take the recent announcement that Amazon Studios will be filming the majority of its much anticipated Lord of the Rings television series - set to be the most expensive TV show in history (costing upwards of $1.5 billion) - in Auckland Film Studios in Henderson, and the new state of the art film studio in Kumeu. It’s a massive win for businesses in the immediate vicinity who’ll enjoy an upsurge in work opportunities and business growth in the short term. Long term, the five-year production will put West Auckland on the map as a major film and studio hub, and will likely spark population and economic growth across Auckland’s northwestern suburbs, which are already on track to house approximately 186,000 by 2050.

Then there’s the significant investment in infrastructure and transport routes. he recently completed Waterview connection, which links the Southwestern (State Highway 20) and Northwestern (SH16) motorways, has provided alternative travel routes and shorter drive times for thousands of commuters travelling between Auckland’s northwest, the CBD and other key destinations, such as Auckland International Airport.  

Looking ahead, the northwestern rapid transit corridor will transform Westgate into a key transport interchange over the next thirty years and will also serve the American retail giant Costco, set to open its doors (all three stories worth) in 2021. The 14,000 square metre warehouse will be located in the heart of Westgate’s retail centre and represents the first of the multi-national discount stores to reach New Zealand’s shores (Costco is the world’s second-largest retailer after Walmart). And just like the Lord of the Ring’s west-side production sets, the new Auckland store will create approximately 350 full-time jobs. 

Westgate is one of New Zealand's largest master-planned urbanisation projects. The township encompasses a new town centre, library, community spaces and hospitality options. Together with the recently opened NorthWest mall, these upgrades are expected to create 10,000 new jobs and attract 4000 new residents to the area. Westgate will support, and be supported by, the future urban areas of Red Hills and Whenuapai (which have a combined population of 4,000 people. That number is anticipated to rise to over 40,000 people in the next thirty years). 

Hobsonville Point, Auckland’s newest and fastest-growing suburb, is another successfully master-planned project in Auckland’s Northwest which, come completion, will be home to 11,000 people - the effect of which will reverberate outwards towards neighbouring suburbs.

Another hallmark of the region’s growth is tourism. Halfway between Westgate and Helensville is the Hallertau craft brewery and the historic Riverhead Tavern, both countryside destinations for foodies and beer connoisseurs alike. Further inland and closer to Waimauku, the Hunting Lodge vineyard and restaurant is just one of the many wineries in the wider Kumeu area, attracting increasing numbers of tourists from across the globe, and cementing the area as a ‘go-to’ destination for wider Auckland.

With forecasted population increases, economic growth and continued investment in transport links, facilities and infrastructure, the western regions are more appealing than ever before. It’s against this backdrop that Helensville has enjoyed its own growth and investment of late, including the recently upgraded Rautawhiri Park and plans to upgrade the Helensville town centre

But what separates Helensville from these neighbouring townships is its unique location along the banks of the Kaipara Harbour which has informed its rich and unique history and enviable natural amenity, neither of which can be replicated elsewhere. Helensville is just a short distance from some of New Zealand’s most notable nature destinations – Parakai’s mineral hot springs are just a seven-minute drive from Helensville, while Woodhill Forest Park is just an eleven-minute drive, the Kaipara Harbour fifteen-minutes, and Muriwai beach just twenty-five minutes. 

Now with the Parkview Development in full swing, Helensville strikes the perfect balance of ‘small town living’ and ‘big city feel.’ Come completion, the development will deliver brand new, modern homes to the township, complete with grandstand views over Rautawhiri Park and in close proximity to transport links, schools and the Helensville town centre. So while everybody knows that ‘west is best’, it's looking like the humble town of Helensville is shaping up to be the very best of the west. 

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