Helensville - NZ's own Palm Springs?

Palm Springs (Getty)
Palm Springs (Getty)

This is Helensville, in Auckland's northwest.

Helensville - NZ's own Palm Springs?

Helensville's main street (Google Maps)

This is Palm Springs, in the Californian desert.

Helensville - NZ's own Palm Springs?

Palm Springs (Getty)

Former Waitakere City Mayor Sir Bob Harvey has a 20-year plan to turn the former into the latter.

"Every Aucklander has taken their kids and their grandkids to the hot pools, and that's the beginning of what I think is the Palm Springs of Auckland," he told Paul Henry on Wednesday morning.

Palm Springs has an average summer temperature of 42degC, and at its wettest gets 22mm of rain a month.

In contrast, Helensville hovers around 19degC in summer, and gets 150mm of rain in its wettest month.

But Sir Bob insists the small town's an "undiscovered gem" and could one day be a satellite city for the Auckland "money class".

"This is not about affordable housing...it is a bit upmarket," he says. "I don't mind being a part of that - I mean, that's the way that things go."

Asked if Omaha might be a better bet for Auckland's wealthy, Sir Bob says it "hasn't got the quality" Helensville has. Nor does it have a highway "to dream for".

But if Helensville is so great, why isn't it booming already? In the last 15 years, its population has only increased by 300-odd people. Sir Bob blames the former council.

"In the Rodney days they only cared only about Orewa and the east coast - they didn't give a rat's arse about Helensville."

As for the existing residents, the 75-year-old says if they stick around, he'll make them all rich.

"They could all be very wealthy - they just have to wait."

Ironically, house prices in Helensville are much higher than in Palm Springs, which was hit hard by the global financial crisis. The average place in Helensville will set you back $620,000, according to agents Barfoot & Thompson, while the equivalent Palm Springs home is only $430,000, according to housing data site Zillow.com.


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