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Ponsonby, Auckland

Ponsonby - the name suggests pomp and ceremony. It most probably refers to a private secretary of Queen Victoria, Sir Henry Ponsonby. Located only two kilometres from central Auckland, this suburb has seen varying fortunes since Pakeha settlement in New Zealand. Initially favoured by the British settlers, it reverted to an enclave of working class and islander groups before the yuppies rediscovered the place, moved in, made its property prices rise and hence today it shines as an example of an upper class congregation. Some of its roads remain narrow and remind one of horse carriage planning, but its obvious elevation on a hill and its gleaming white painted houses shout of opulence, money and excellent location. Above , the Ponsonby Post Office with a tower at a main intersection on a late spring Friday afternoon.

Until Auckland's Sky Tower was built, Ponsonby competed with the height of most of Auckland City's tallest buildings. As it is sited on a ridge known to Maoris as Te Rihu Tahi (the lone Rimu Tree), it still provides a vantage point to survey the city centre, and is surrounded by bays, with names like Freeman, St Marys and Herne. Its possible cousin suburb Parnell hosts rich private residences, but perhaps Ponsonby has more character in demographics and variety of both day and nightlife, with restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries and cafes that do not just offer upmarket shops, chocolate and coffee. There are businesses with names like Murder Burger, Moo Chow Chow, the Bona Cafe, Otto Woo, the Pegasus Bay Winery Restaurant and Gusto.

Residences have chimneys, palm trees and immaculately kept verandahs (above). I had coffee at the Cafe Cezanne, located along the main strip of Ponsonby Road (below).

Most of the above vistas of residences were taken along sloping Renall Street in Posonby.

The road slopes, but is lined with well kept, mostly wooden houses that evoke character, history and loving care. Visitors may find Ponsonby relatively quite in the day time but the pace does pack up on Friday and Saturday nights. The potential for Ponsonby looks bright, as Auckland as a city expands in the future. Recent world ranking surveys in quality of life have already placed Auckland in the very top spots, and I am not surprised. Ponsonby stands as an illustrative example why.


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