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I've Been (positively) Thinking...

Thinking about... Takapuna and Hurstmere Road

I've been thinking about... Takapuna, and specifically Hurstmere Road. Living not far away from the centre of Takapuna I frequent the area regularly and reckon it is time to address the traffic issues on Hurstmere Road – between the Lake Road/The Strand/Northcroft Street intersection and the Anzac Street/The Strand round-about.
Virtually every weekend and many weekdays, this area of 'the main drag' becomes choked up and must be so frustrating for those who don't know what us locals know – that you simply avoid driving South down the strip at those busy times. The traffic jams can go from one end to the other, with cars taking long periods to get through the Lake Road end lights.
So what is the answer?
After living only a stones throw away for almost four years, I reckon the answer is to make it mainly a pedestrian area that only absolutely necessary vehicles can access one way if they need to. They have done this successfully in main shopping streets in Napier, and they have also done it very well in the Elliott Street precinct in the city.
I know that many retailers aren't overly keen on this, but I do believe that long term it would make Takapuna a much more attractive place to visit and more of a town centre.
The exciting thing is Takapuna is starting to thrive and to make the shopping strip more inviting and accessible will only add to this. The development of Hurstmere Green is superb, the introduction of the McKenzies Precinct has been a real shot in the arm and there are exciting new things happening on The Strand carpark – a little birdie tells me two new restaurants and a bar which will look out over the beach reserve. Yes folks, Taka is starting to embrace the beach! Then another McKenzies-type 'laneways' development is apparently under way directly opposite Hurstmere Green where the Backdoor Surf Shop was. This will link through to the Anzac Street carpark.
I think turning Hurstmere Road into mainly a pedestrian-friendly space can only bring positive things for the area. It would be such a good space that the Sunday markets would quite naturally migrate there over time because it would just be better, leaving the carpark to actually be a carpark for visitors. Wouldn't it also be great if the space can also be transformed for outdoor events, movable eating areas etc.
Food for thought. There will be lots of varying opinions on it, but something must be done about those damn traffic jams!

I've been thinking about... how beautiful the Bay of Islands are. In mid-March, as the great summer we have had continued on, I ventured North with some friends to take advantage of a present my wife Michelle had given for my 50th birthday. Two days game fishing with Bruce Smith on board the charter boat Striker.
On the Sunday evening we ventured north to Opua and took the vehicular ferry over to Russell. We stayed the night at the Duke of Marlborough. If you haven't been there for a while, or have never stayed there, then you should. It was superb. Still a grand old-style hotel, but now very well presented – the rooms are great – and there is a superb restaurant with an award-winning chef. I can recommend their Signature Roast Lamb Shoulder, for two people – I shared it with a mate, honest!
Russell is just a fantastic setting. It doesn't get much better than sitting outside eating a fine dinner with a wine or beer in the sunshine, at 'The Duke', on the Russell waterfront while looking out over the wharf and the boats.
To top it all off we had two fantastic sunny still days fishing with 'Smithy'. Didn't land a marlin unfortunately, but hooked or saw a couple and caught lots of other species of fish while enjoying the beauty that's the Bay of Islands area.
The couple of days just reinforced to me what a special country we live in. If you haven't been up that way for a while (or maybe never) and are looking for somewhere to go for a break, then go to Russell. It's special.
Have a great April.

by Aidan Bennett

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