Otahuhu - The New Ponsonby!

Ponsonby in the 1970s. Photo / NZME.

During Auckland's Fringe Festival I found myself walking Ponsonby streets wearing headphones, listening to the show I wanna be na nah na nah nah - a walking performance about Ponsonby.

I heard what it was like in the 1970s and 80s when the suburb was full of gang culture, multicultural and not seen as a safe place to send your kids to a play date.

At the halftime break at Ponsonby Community Centre we saw photos of the suburb showing rundown houses, rubbish and barefoot children.

Now, just 35 years later, the suburb is gentrified, the small cottages are worth $1.5 million-plus, there are luxury shops and high-end bars - the rents are some of the most expensive in Auckland.

I was asked where I thought the next Ponsonby would be, the suburb where no one would willingly move but which could one day become the place to be.

In a city where a second tier boom has seen many of the city fringe suburbs double in value in the past few years, it's hard to single out one suburb that could one day boast high street shops, and top restaurants. As demand for new homes rises it seems many of the rules about Auckland's traditionally more desirable suburbs are changing.

I was surprised to hear that some new homes in Henderson Heights are selling for over the $1 million mark and that huge prices are being paid for homes in Sunnynook as people fight to enter the Westlake Boys' High School zone.

However, it got me thinking about the characteristics that made Ponsonby desirable and why well-heeled professionals started moving in to buy villas and bungalows, and embrace the cultural diversity, rich history and character in both people and homes that the suburb offered.

It is the suburb's proximity to the city that sets it apart from most other parts of the city, as the value of this has grown along with our population and gridlock issues.

Andrea Rush, QV national spokesperson
Andrea Rush, QV national spokesperson


So, in terms of city fringe suburbs that still have proximity to the city, there are parts of Grey Lynn that still offer relative value for money in the $1 million suburb.

QV stats show 633 Great North Rd sold in August 2014 for $750,000 and 42 Tuarangi Rd sold for $783,000, while 693 Great North Rd sold recently for $805,000.

All were three-bedroom stand-alone homes just 10 minutes' drive from the centre of the city, but that part of Grey Lynn is still not as desirable as other parts of the suburb and the Grey Lynn shops are yet to become gentrified.

However, if you are looking in the $500,000 to $600,000 range, my other picks for suburbs that have room to grow - that are still relatively close to the city centre - are the homes in Wesley, which make up the more affordable parts of Mt Roskill and are about 15 minutes' walk to Sandringham Rd.

Also worth looking at are the flatter parts of Avondale, Kelston and New Lynn. These areas offer weatherboard homes on large sections and are starting to get a bit of a cafe culture happening in the town centres nearby.

If you are more in the $300,000 to $400,000 range then perhaps consider Otahuhu, which is much like the Ponsonby of old and offers stand-alone character homes on good size sections with a colourful and character filled main street.

Property there has risen 6.3 per cent over the past three months alone and the average QV.co.nz evaluer is now $428,650 - making it one of the more affordable suburbs in the SuperCity. Food for thought.

- Quotable Value (QV) is New Zealand's largest valuation and property service company. It offers innovative professional valuation and related property information services for homeowners.

Andrea Rush is the QV National Spokesperson.

NZ Herald