This was originally posted on Neatplaces.co.nz and has been republished with permission.
We moved to New Brighton 10 years ago. Caroline moved to New Zealand from England 25 years ago and has always dreamed of living by the beach. We have bought a small cottage in South New Brighton and live there with our 14 year old daughter, Lola, two dogs and three cats. Our 21 year old son, Mali, recently moved to live with friends but has remained local.
We both have a passion for hospitality and felt we could create something for our community to fill a void. Lovers of vintage vehicles, we bought a 1961 Starliner Caravan, which we operated as a food truck in New Brighton for three years.
We loved the buzz it created and eventually we were encouraged by friends and locals to open a restaurant. True to our commitment to New Brighton, we chose a local location, used local architect, Jason from Pivnice, and local builder, Jeremy from JJBuilt, and created The Burger Joint.
We work a lot in the restaurant because we love it and enjoy spending time with our regulars. It’s a real community atmosphere. We try to have our free time at home, walking the dogs and catching up with friends and family.
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Family is very important to us and with Caroline’s family abroad we try to talk to them as often as possible. Sam plays music and is part of the local band Pieces of Molly. Caroline works with two local community groups, Sustain New Brighton and The New Brighton Project.
We really like living near the beach and have found the New Brighton community to be very welcoming. It is the closest sense of village life Caroline has experienced since leaving a small village in England.
Rinse, Train and Repeat
The He Puna Taimoana hot pools have become one of our favorites. We brought a pass so we could enter any session. It’s a good way to relax, the temperature of the pools is perfect and there is also the sauna and the hammam. We often go to work out at Shoreline Fitness and then head to the pools later for a relaxing dip. Be sure to check out their sunrise sessions, and they also host late-night sessions in the summer with a DJ.
Shop like a local
There’s a collective called 105 on Seaview Road. It’s a mix of community service, vintage items, clothing, arts and crafts, beautician, and gifts. It’s like Aladdin’s cave and full of gems. We use vintage items at Burger Joint, so I always have a good excuse to walk around and see what I can find. If we ever need screws or anything, I go down and see Denis at the house and Castle Hardware and Stuff. It has everything we would need. Our other favorite is Menage a Trois Vintage at the top of Seaview Road just as you come into New Brighton from the city.
A step in the right direction
We love Bottle Lake Forest! It is ideal for walks, running and mountain biking. You can cycle there from New Brighton, and we still plan to do so. We plan to start with a coffee from Green Bear at The Common Ground in South Brighton and hike up the dunes into the forest. In the meantime, we are happy to glide the kayak or paddleboard down the estuary.
There are so many other amazing hiking trails on our doorstep that we are spoiled for choice. One of our favorites is to take the dogs, walk along South Brighton Beach to North Beach and grab a coffee at the North Beach Coffee Shed. Another great trail is along the estuary with lots of birdlife and stunning scenery. There is a great loop from our house where you can walk along the estuary to the top of Rocking Horse Road and back along the beach, ending with a coffee somewhere!
Party by the beach
We are so lucky to have the Switch Cafe right next to the Burger Joint. They have superb coffee and food – I crave their reuben toastie and keep pestering them to put it back on the menu! Chanakya is a lovely South Indian restaurant tucked away in Seaside Mall – their food is amazing and our daughter is addicted to their chilli cauliflower dish. They had to go back to India for a bit but should reopen soon. We also have a new neighbor in Carnaby Lane, a restaurant called Three Donkeys which is brilliant.
The Carnaby Lane Markets are amazing, with live music, food and a variety of stalls. You can grab a bite and a pint of SouthPaw beer and soak up the atmosphere – it’s like the bustling Brighton of old. We put in about four a year. We truly believe New Brighton is a hidden gem and feel privileged to live and run a business here. There is often something happening within the community – coastal cleanups, markets and the beach on our doorstep.
Dose of local initiatives
When we started in the caravan we swapped to the South Brighton Surf Club at the weekends. We wanted to create a meeting place for members of our community as local takeaways had been destroyed by the earthquake. This has evolved over the years and the site where the stores were located is now called the Common Ground. The Green Bear cafe has a container there and it’s where the community group, Sustain New Brighton, coordinates events such as Food Truck Fridays, markets and more. There is a small shop which is a space people can rent to sell crafts and hold workshops.
A new community center called The Bridge South Brighton has also opened just across the road and includes a cafe, wellness rooms, a gallery and a hall for community use. It is an old church that was purchased by the community and converted by local volunteers.
Go down the rabbit hole
Alice in Putterland is a new 18-hole indoor miniature golf course with a backlit glow in the dark space that explores Alice’s journey through Wonderland. A great place to take the family – you can organize birthday parties or team building activities with your work colleagues.
New Brighton Surf Clubs are perfect if your kids want to get into Surf Life Saving. They are super family oriented and offer great lifeguard service. Lola plays tennis at the South Brighton Tennis Club, a wonderful club with excellent coaches. It’s right on the South Brighton campsite – another little gem!
Carts, Drift and Foos
The Velocity Karts are based just up the road – we took our team there for our Christmas work and had so much fun zipping around the track in the Blokarts. It was a bit of a windy day which added to the fun, especially when Sam came off the track and into a large puddle. They also have driftkarts and human foosball; the team is amazing and you are well taken care of.
DIY Hidden Gem Cafe Tour
I love that we have lots of little cafes hidden around New Brighton. There is Switch at the end of Carnaby Lane, Green Bear at Common Ground, North Beach Coffee Shed – there is a small picnic table on the sand dunes…. it’s the table with the best view! And on Saturday, which is located at the He Puna Taimoana hot pools. You never have to go far for a good beer!