Elite Streets: In Hamilton they're all street proud, but the water views win

Hamilton is not so much about "elite streets" – it's more about an elite riverbank and lakeside.

With the Waikato River running through the city, and the lake near the centre, the city has plenty of waterfront properties that will always command high prices. But the river, in particular, draws the punters. Or as one real estate agent put it: "Whatever street it's on, if a property's on the river, it's always sought after". 

If you want to go by numbers, the most expensive streets – those with the highest median house price estimates as calculated by homes.co.nz – are Kotahi Avenue, Beerescourt, which has a median of $1,410,400, River Oaks Place, Pukete ($1,224,877), Durham Heights, Flagstaff ($1,136,549), San Clemento Way, Rototuna ($1,065,209) and Karl Michael Crescent, Flagstaff ($1.057,791). By comparison, the average value of a house in Hamilton is $548,417 (QV).

But the most prestigious properties are not necessarily found at these addresses.

David Cashmore of Bayleys Hamilton says the "premium" streets are traditionally those around Hamilton Lake or overlooking the Waikato River. Other contributing factors include school zoning.

"Being inside Hamilton Boys High and Hamilton Girls High school zonings is an added drawcard for buyers. However, the challenge I have is that if I name four streets or five streets, the people in the other streets will say, 'Why didn't you mention our street as the best street?'"
Cashmore's hesitancy in wanting to name "elite streets" is echoed by all the agents we spoke to in Hamilton. Shaun Cosgrove of Harcourts says, "The lake, really, but if I say the lake, then I will upset everybody on the river."

Cosgrove says he has 14 groups of people on a register looking for lakeside properties, and some of them want new houses. "At present, there's not a lot to select from."

Murray Watson of LJ Hooker wasn't sure about categorising just one street as the place to be. "I wouldn't like to put all the eggs in one basket. It comes down to preference, when you're talking about multi-million dollar homes."

Watson says not everyone wants the same thing – some people might prefer a multi-million dollar lifestyle block.

Nathan Smith of Lodge Real Estate is also hesitant about singling out streets. "The thing with Hamilton is that every suburb has its good and its bad. It depends on any particular stage of development. For instance, Fairfield is a suburb of two halves. You've got million-dollar properties at one end and the other end is state housing. It's just because of the way that Hamilton's grown. There's such a diverse nature of pockets of good and bad together.

"Eliteness is all measured by different people at different levels, isn't it? To some, to be elite would be to live on the river. To some, to be elite would be to back onto Southwell School. So everybody's got a different opinion."

But all the consultants name riverside Awatere Avenue in Beerescourt as the crème de la crème. Watson says Awatere wins because of its close proximity to the city, and because it is on the western side of the Waikato River.

"Houses here get the morning sun and some of them have unobstructed access to the river. On the other side is River Road which does have acess back as well, so that arguably is as sought after. But River Road is a main thoroughfare so there is a bit of traffic noise. So Awatere probably is the most desirable."

Watson says the street features established housing and houses backing onto the river are all in the $1 million-plus price range. While Cosgrove says he has two River Road properties on his books, one of $4 million-plus and on at $2 million-plus.

Cashmore names Lake Crescent, Lake Domain Drive and Pembroke Street as key locations around Hamilton Lake. Lake Crescent is also noted by Smith, along with Enderley Avenue homes that overlook the leafy, picturesque grounds of Southwell School, a private school.

Other streets to get a mention are River Road North, which people often refer to as a "golden mile, and Ann Street. Tamahere on the rural outskirts of the city is also considered blue-chip, with a lot of new high-end housing

Cashmore says most houses in all these streets have been well maintained. "You don't normally overcapitalise in good locations."

  1. Pembroke Street
    No expense spared here - this multi-level house is in Pembroke Street.
  2. Lake Crescent
    Lake Crescent has the advantage of mainly north-facing lake views.
  3. Awatere Avenue
    Leafy Awatere Avenue in Beerescourt is an elite street alongside the Waikato River.
  4. Lake Domain Drive
    Houses in Lake Domain Drive can have uninterrupted views and regularly fetch north of $1 million.
  5. Lake Domain Drive
    Lake Domain Drive is an elite street with high-end housing.
  6. Opoia Road
    This contemporary house on the riverbank in Opoia Road is on the market through Bayleys, with a 2015 RV of $1.84 million.
  7. Kotahi Avenue
    The owner of this 1920s house in riverside Kotahi Avenue bought it in 1993 for $408,000. It has a price estimate of $1.6 million.
  8. River Road
    This 723 square-metre house in River Road, with 'arguably the best river views' in Hamilton, is listed with Bayleys for $4.18 million. It has separate guest accommodation.
  9. Kotahi Avenue
    Kotahi Avenue in Hamilton, on the banks of the Waikato River, has the highest median house price estimates, but agents name other streets as possibly more prestigious.
Some of Hamilton's most exclusive addresses.
But he says it's not easy to find a house for sale in these streets. "There's a limited supply. They're not producing lakefront or riverfront properties like they do new subdivisions. So that does affect the supply, and people do tend to hang onto them because they're nice places to live."

Properties will generally be sold either by auction or tender.

A homeowner who lives right on the river in Opoia Road describes the location as "a little bit of paradise, right in the middle of town".

The owner said the family were already living on the river a little further down, but chose to move because of the more expansive views and central location, which is just five-minute walk from town. 

"We've got a lot of friends that live out on lifestyle blocks, and I know the amount of running around we did with our children before they got their licences. It was huge. Drop them off at school, and then you'd have to go and drop them here, there and everywhere afterwards. Being quite central makes life a lot easier." 

But the original house was not up to scratch, so the new owners started over. "We basically bowled the house that was on there and built a new one."

And it's that Waikato RIver view that the family loves. "There's a lot of action, with rowers, boats, waka, kayakers and swimmers. There are always things happening on the river."

The owner also mentions the river access. "It used to be called Waiparian rights, but now I think it's called the Waikato esplanade. There are no paths or anything in front between you and the river."

From Stuff.co.nz