Castor Bay is a relatively small North Shore suburb with a lot of heart. Since its settlement by Maori over 500 years ago, Castor Bay has been coveted as a desirable place to live. The safe swimming beach is a particular drawcard to growing families, many of whom choose to make their home in this friendly, easy-going neighbourhood.
Apart from the sheltered and safe swimming beach at Castor Bay, a popular recreation area for the local community is Kennedy Park. The park – including Rahopara Pa, which stands on the northern promontory of the beach – had been a strategic military site for centuries, firstly for Maori in pre-European times, and then during World War II when a Japanese invasion was feared. This military history belies its modern-day tranquillity – children build sandcastles under the gaze of ancient machine-gun pillboxes. Overlooking the entrance to the Auckland Harbour, the park commands spectacular views of the Gulf and the to-and-fro of yachts and ships.
Prior to the Harbour Bridge opening, Castor Bay was little more than a rural retreat with a collection of baches and holiday homes. With its safe swimming beach and idyllic surrounds, it’s had more than its fair share of literary residents, including poets D’Arcy Cresswell , R. A. K. Fairburn and Robin Hyde. Sam Hunt was brought up in Castor Bay and was indeed inspired by its coastal beauty, with his lyrical poem “At Castor Bay”.
Small local businesses have always thrived on the corner of Beach and Castor Bay Roads. In the 1960s, a grocery store and a butcher’s shop were well patronised by the locals. Although the butchery disappeared many years ago, the retail space was happily filled by a hair dresser’s, and the large grocer shop is now a wonderful Indian restaurant. Aroma well deserves its name.
The local school, named Campbells Bay Primary but technically within the bounds of Castor Bay, is highly regarded and many families move into the area simply to have their children attend. Local students are zoned for Murrays Bay Intermediate and Westlake High Schools – both of which are Decile 10 and consistently rate within the top schools in New Zealand.
Castor Bay has always been a centre for boating activities, nurturing such yachting royalty as Simon D’Aubney and Dean Barker, and many of the local residents moor their boats at the nearby Milford Marina. The shops at Milford are just a short drive away with a varied and sophisticated range of retail stores, cafes and services.