In our Shop Local article series, we talk to retailers, town centre managers and passionate people about what makes their local area unique and how they’re spreading the word within and beyond their community.
We spoke to Hellen Wilkins, Manager at Destination Orewa Beach, about the unique coastal lifestyle of Orewa and the shop local initiatives in the area, as well as how they are responding to their evolving environment and audience.
Orewa Beach – Where Auckland shines!
Just 25 minutes north of Auckland, Orewa offers an extensive coastal lifestyle founded on its biggest natural asset – its 3 km long pristine beach. The main Boulevard through the town features boutique and specialty shops as well as a very vibrant and ambient hospitality scene. Cafes and restaurants showcase a myriad of flavours, a relaxed atmosphere and quality service – with the majority being located right adjacent to the beach.
Over 30 businesses have made Orewa their home for 20 years or more – these 2nd and 3rd generation run businesses offer high levels of customer service and guarantee a personal touch to all who pass through their doors. Overall both business owners and local consumers are very loyal to Orewa, preferring its coastal ‘destination’ over larger big-brand centric and less visually appealing retail centres. The ability to walk the beach, dine in a cafe with beach views and while away a few hours people watching makes the town centre’s relaxed lifestyle very attractive to many.
Promoting community engagement at local events
The beach front boulevard location of Orewa lends itself to being an ideal large scale street-event space. As well as the 5 annual events co-ordinated by Destination Orewa Beach (the business association) there are multiple other annual events from sports events to carols in the park and many other family orientated events. Destination Orewa Beach prides itself on its community engagement in regards to events – again adding to the shop and support local philosophy. Local service providers are used as much as possible, local performers are engaged and only local volunteers are on the rosters. Such events attract large numbers of locals to the town centre, which in turn provides a very positive economic return for the businesses located around the event. All Orewa businesses and community groups are encouraged to participate in the event in some way.
There is a local farmers market every Sunday year-round and from October there will be a monthly ‘Organic and Craft Market’ once a month which runs alongside the farmers market. Both these markets attract locals and visitors, who then continue their day with a beach walk, an alfresco brunch or a browse of the boutique shops.
Every day Orewa beach is dotted with wind surfers, stand up paddle boarders and blow carts. On the windiest of days there is guaranteed to be an enthralling number of kite surfers battling the waves, showing off with stunts and speeds. Orewa beach is definitely a year round beach with water sports being integral to its vibrancy throughout winter, and families or groups enjoying beach days and BBQs throughout the summer months. The 7 km Te Ara Tahuna cycle way winds around the Orewa estuary with bike riders then flowing into the CBD area for lunch, smoothies or a beer in the sun. The beach and the cycle way bring locals and visitors alike to Orewa every day and add to the vibrancy and appeal of the town overall.
Helping local businesses prosper in an evolving environment
Annual online consumer research by Destination Orewa Beach (gathering consumer wants, needs and preferences) ensures that businesses can always be kept up to date with changes in trends and the constantly changing hospitality and retail landscape. Such annual research is essential due to the exceptional number of residential developments in progress in and around Orewa – currently sitting at 7,000 new homes in progress. With these new homes comes a fluid mix of demographics from young at heart retirees, to double income earners with young children, to established corporates who take the 30 minute public transport commute to Auckland City every day. The changing and morphing demographic means Orewa is no longer known as ‘retirement central’!
Orewa has a very active Facebook page and website with in-depth business information as well as a much touched on events calendar. The town has free wifi throughout the town centre which encourages people to stay in town longer and enjoy another cup of coffee or ice cream whilst checking emails or updating their social media. The 90,000 hits a month to the free wifi homepage is testimony that this service is very much in demand and keeps Orewa ‘connected’ with the ever increasing tech-savvy population.
Orewa strives to continually keep our community up to date on what’s happening in Orewa. We are always marketing to ‘drive through’ traffic – travel through the town centre to enjoy the views and hospitality rather than traveling through the concrete tunnels at Puhoi. We maximise our shop local and support philosophies and we care what our community wants. We listen to their preferences and wants and if we can, we do, make the difference.