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Whangaparaoa Peninsula is suburban area about 25 km north of Auckland in New Zealand. It had 22,788 residents in 2006, many of them in the eponymous town of Whangaparaoa on its southern side. It is part of the Hibiscus Coast.
Whangaparaoa Peninsula is located in the northern North Island, close to the base of the North Auckland Peninsula. Whangaparāoa is Māori for "Bay of Whales", and pods of orca and dolphin are regularly spotted in the waters off the peninsula. The peninsula is increasingly urbanised and forms part of the Northern Auckland Zone of the Auckland urban area, as defined by Statistics New Zealand. Proposals mooted in 2006, when it was part of the Rodney District, would have seen it absorbed into North Shore City. Since 2010, it has been part of the Albany ward of the Auckland Region.
Until relatively recently a sparsely inhabited rural area, it is now seen as something of a retreat for the more well-to-do members of Auckland society, the city lying 25 kilometres to the south. This is particularly true of the resort of Gulf Harbour which sits four kilometres from the tip of the peninsula. Classification of this area as predominantly "Metro 1" by the Auckland Regional Council caused sharp rates rises recently, causing outcry among residents.
Auckland's Northern Motorway (State Highway One) was extended to Orewa at the end of the 1990s, reducing journey time into the city and making it more popular for commuters. The proposed Penlink roading project (including a bridge over the Wade River from Stanmore Bay to Stillwater) would provide a quicker path between Whangaparaoa and central Auckland.
The peninsula stretches east for 11 kilometres into the waters of the Hauraki Gulf to the north of East Coast Bays. Tiritiri Matangi Island lies three kilometres off its eastern tip. The town of Whangaparaoa sits on the peninsula's southwestern shore, and is regarded as the start of the section of coastline known as the Hibiscus Coast.
Communities along the peninsula include Red Beach, Stanmore Bay, Big Manly, Tindalls Beach, Army Bay, Gulf Harbour, Matakatia, Little Manly, and Arkles Bay. At the end of the peninsula is Shakespear Regional Park. The New Zealand Defence Force also owns part of this area, which has been used as a resettlement camp for refugees.
In the past ten years a township has developed on the high land above Stanmore Bay and Big Manly beach. This development includes a shopping centre, a movie theatre, a bowling alley and a library and community centre. While the area was once relatively remote, the shopping facilities, including a large supermarket, have made living on the extremities of the peninsula more convenient, especially as the central city is now no more than forty minutes from this centre during off-peak periods.
Hibiscus Coast is served by NorthStar bus routes offering an extensive range of destinations including central Auckland. Ferries operated by 360 Discovery commute between Gulf Harbour and central Auckland daily, and islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
Whangaparaoa College is the peninsula's main college. It was formed from Hibiscus Coast Intermediate School in 2005, and first had all years 7 to 13 attending in 2009.
Other schools in the area:
- Wentworth College (Gulf Harbour)
- Whangaparaoa Primary
- Stanmore Bay Primary
- Gulf Harbour School
- Red Beach Primary
- Orewa College