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Updated: 2014-10-02T21:48:30.152-07:00


Panmure & Van Damm's Lagoons - 5th May 2007


Yesterday Nickname Pending picked the walk and we drove east-ish to the carpark on Lagoon Drive, opposite the Y-Sports Stadium. From there we headed right, around the lagoon - past the skate park (in much use), the hydroslides from the nearby Aquatic Centre, following the fitness trail.I initially thought this wouldn't be a very long walk - the path around the lagoon is largely wide and flat and you could easily bike around it or push a stroller. Roller skates would be a bit challenging towards the end when there is some up, but otherwise it would be a good skate too.There was a surprisingly large amount of bird life - gulls, grey herons, cormorants, stilts, tui, kingfisher, sparrows, thrush, blackbirds, and no doubt some I've forgotten. We saw a kingfisher pluck a crab from the mud (tide was out) and fly up to a try to crunch it up - then we noticed that the mud was teeming with the little crustaceans. They would stop moving whenever we tried to look closer, and had an annoying tendency to scurry around right at the periphery of your vision.About a third of the way around the lagoon we got the to the Panmure Sailing Club and Nickname Pending decided it was time for a little surprise addition to our walk. We headed up a path to Ireland Rd, and proceeded along the street towards Waipuna Rd. At one point we delved into the imaginatively named Ireland Rd Treegrove, but this didn't afford the short cut NP was searching for, backing instead onto the railway line. So we headed back to the road, turned right at the end onto Waipuna, then right again onto the Mt Wellington Highway. We walked up this a fair way, past Coromandel Cacti, and ended up outside the carpark for Van Damm's Lagoon.The sign and everything else put up by the council spells it Van Damm, but there's a plaque there from the local historic society which adds and e on the end. I'm going with the council 'cos surely they couldn't be that wrong?This fresh water lagoon is artificial, built up from a local fresh water spring by the eponymous local who wanted to build a nature reserve for local bird-life. When the tannery between there and the Panmure Lagoon was shut down they gave some more land to the endeavour and eventually it came into council hands.There are pretty little waterfalls at the start of the walk, and on the day we went it was very swampy. Parts of the path around the waterways and lagoon were boggy and flooded, but it was still interesting despite the mud. Quite an oasis in what is still a reasonably busy industrial area.While the only bird life we saw was of the duck variety, there was a wide range of flora, including both natives and exotic. There was a very impressive (as in tall) stand of bamboo at one end the lagoon, which you reached by going under a massive concrete pipe.Much of the path has been done up and there are signs that this work is still underway - new handrails in one area, freshly cut stone in another. I'd hate to go there at a time of year, or a time of day, when there would be a lot of insect life though - clearly a paradise for mosquitos and others who go the water larvae route. Then it was back out onto the Mt Wellington Highway, right along the Ellerslie Panmure Highway, and back down Ireland Rd to get back onto the path around the Panmure Basin. The exhaust fumes were really noticeable after even a short break away from the street.We took up close to where we left off in our walk around the first lagoon, past mangroves, more mud flats and the buxus letters spelling out Panmure Basin on the lawn of Waipuna Lodge. Sadly the topiary letters are at just the wrong angle to really be able to read them unless you were above them by plane or helicopter. Continuing on around the basin we came to the Auckland Model Engineers Society - they have a club house, a model boat pond, and an extensive small scale railway, complete with bridges, tunnels, stations, and the like. They weren't in action, but it looked like it would be fun to come back and watch, particularly with kids. Actually there were a lot of good things for children around [...]

Oakley Creek Walkway - 28th Apr 2007


Yesterday I decided to do a short walk not too far away, so I set off for Waterview. I parked down Cowley Ave, walked up Great North Rd a bit, and took the walkway across the road. Then it was down, beneath the level of the road, and along the Oakley Creek Walkway. Billed in a City Council brochure as containing the isthmus' only natural waterfall, it's obviously undergoing significant renewal. This is good because the path and the park are in a parlous state at the moment, although the work already done is making a big difference. It will be a fantastic oasis when it's finished.Most of the trees are exotic, but the planting programme appears to be largely native, so eventually there will be a good mix. The path kind of follows the creek - at parts it is quite a distance from it, but in general it winds back and forth across it via some pretty bridges.The autumn trees were great, and there was some pretty cool moss and lichen, and even some actual mushrooms! I don't like to eat them, but I do like to snap them. There are also some curious old walls throughout the park, possibly put in when Unitec was Carrington, and Carrington was a mental institution? I wanted to do this walk because I was curious about the waterfall. You have to go down some stairs to get to it, and the flat area at the bottom of the fall looks very beaten up, but the waterfall itself has a surprising impact. The pics don't really capture it I'm afraid.Above the waterfall there were ducks, and I did see a few other birds, but they were always flying away from me. A lot of people were using the path - walking, cycling, pushing strollers, exercising dogs. It'll be great when the path can sustain that use along its whole length.Walking to the end and back would take around an hour. The concrete path is broken in parts, and narrow the whole way, but this is a very pretty and serene walk. It does need more signage though - there were a lot of paths off to the side, which I suspect joined up with Unitec of the housing on the road-side of the creek, but it wasn't clear, particularly at the end. I'm still not sure I walked the whole way. [...]

St Heliers to Roberta Reserve and return - 22nd Apr. 2007


Today we did the first and second legs of the Point to Point walk, having completed the third part many moons ago.We started out on Cliff Rd in St Heliers, and walked up the road, with great views of Rangitoto, the Waitemata Harbour and back to the city.We took the walkway down to Ladies Bay and walked along the coast to Karaka Bay. This took quite a while, and originally we had intended just to walk back up the Ladies Bay walkwayand continue along the track in the handy leaflet from Auckland City Council. But we just seemed to keep walking. Once we were out of Ladies Bay itself it was very noticeable that there weren't any other women, although there were a fair few naked men. Oh I tell a lie, there was one woman. She was posing for top-less soft porn shots. I guess that's what happens in a nudist area. I didn't mind the nudity, but I didn't much like the stares from all the men.There was this weird thing in the water, all encrusted with shellfish, and fantastic views of Browns Island. I love the shape of Motukorea, it looks as if it were lovingly sculpted by hand. Nickname Pending pointed out that it is quite reminiscent of Mangere Mountain. Perhaps all denuded volcanoes look a bit similar?Anyway, Karaka Bay was great - quite a surprise. There was no road access and although the houses were obviously valuable it looked like a hippy-ish kind of place. The Treaty of Waitangi was apparently signed there on 4th March 1840 and there is a little rest place with a plaque commemorating it. At Karaka Bay we followed a path up to the road and then followed the streets around to Anderson Bay, where we took a track that wound behind the houses and right on the cliff edge, looking across the Tamaki to Musick Point and Bucklands Beach. Then we were back on the road again, skirting Roberta Reserve (Tahuna Torea starts on the other side of it) where we stopped for a snack, before heading up through Glendowie Park. It's a strange place, the ground is very undulating, so it seems kind of useless for playing much. My theory is it used to be landfill and needs to subside more before it can be flattened off, but I really have no idea.After Glendowie Park we went up and down a few more roads to get to the southern entrance to Churchill Park, which is quite extensive. We opted for the Lower Track, which followed a stream, rather than the Upper Track through farmland. There were a few Billy Goat Gruff bridges and a fair bit of bush, but the real highlight was peeping through the trees to the beautiful gardens created by those who owned the properties on the other side of the stream. They obviously worked together to create something out of a fairy story around the stream, and this photo doesn't do it justice at all.We got a little bit lost at the end of Churchill Park but eventually found Glover Park, which is basically the crater of Whakamuhu with playing grounds in the middle. We walked up Waitara Rd and along the edge of the crater, looking back across the park to yet another water tower on the hills above St Heliers. Then we took some more streets, heading west, until we ended up back on Cliff Rd again.This walk took us 2 hours 20 minutes, with two snack stops and a lot of photo-induced slow going. The tracks were variable - at some points the road had no footpath, and I don't think you could realistically do this walk on wheels. The leaflet from Auckland City Council was kind of helpful. On the one hand I wouldn't have known about all these places without it, but on the other the scale was changeable and some of the streets you needed to go down weren't named on the map, created confusion. I'd suggest that ACC look at putting markers on the route, as there were none at all that were helpful, just the very rare Point England Walk map sign, which didn't really help at all, as it doesn't appear to be updated since they started calling it the Point to Point track and also lacked any labels on any roads or parks or indeed anything.It was a very good walk though - a good mix of coast, cli[...]

Rotary Walkway, Pakuranga - 6th Apr. 2007


Yesterday Nickname Pending and I headed east, to do the now completed Rotary Walkway that goes from Ohui-a-rangi (Pigeon Mountain) to the Rotary Reserve on the Pakuranga Highway opposite Pakuranga Plaza.

We parked on Galloway Crescent, by a little reserve at the back of Wakaaranga School, then walked down the road to one of the many pathways that join the walk. They are marked with these concrete stamps, which are also supposed to mark kilometres along the length of the walk itself, but seem to be placed somewhat irregularly.

We headed towards the Plaza first, although we didn't start right at the beginning of the walk. The pathway is largely concrete and wends its way pleasantly along the coast, with a few explanatory markers along the way. We walked up Wakaaranga Creek, which is covered in mangroves, spotting pukeko and grey herons along the way. A lot of the houses that back onto the creek pathway are rather flash, some with tennis courts and others with jetties that go out from the path. (image) Once the creek meets the Tamaki River, you have a great view of Mt Wellington (my new nemesis now that Mt Eden is conquered) and the sandbar that forms part of the Tahuna Torea nature reserve. We walked past the Pakuranga Sailing Club and the reserve next to it. (image) The tide was a long way out, as you can see from the pics, and it took us over an hour to get to the Pakuranga Plaza end of the walk. We turned around and came back, stopping in a bay to eat our packed lunch, and generally watched the windsurfers on the water and the families on the pathway. There were a lot of bikers, and they are supposed to give way to pedestrians. Most do.

Once we had walked all the way back to our starting point we headed further up the pathway towards Ohui-a-rangi and Pigeon Mountain Reserve. Manukau City Council has a plan to overhaul the reserve and has already done significant work on a wetlands area complete with boardwalk and many pukeko. It is wonderful spot even though it isn't complete yet.


I'd recommend if you do this walk give yourself about 2 and a half hours and start from one end or the other, not part way along like we did. It's pretty much flat and much of it could be done with a stroller too. It would also be a nice bike ride, particularly on a cold day, as the sun reflects off the water and parts of the walk that are sheltered from the wind were very warm, even on an autumn day.

Mt Eden/Maungawhau - 31st Mar. 2007


In the past I've referred to Mt Eden/Maungawhau as my nemesis, in the walking dept, because I thought it would be pretty tough given how it has hulked in the background of views from many other peaks.

Actually it was pretty easy. We were looking for something close and not too long, because the weather looked dodgy, and Mt Eden fitted nicely.

We started out by parking at Takahi Reserve - the entrance is off Mt Eden Rd just after the driveway to the summit if you are heading towards the city. From the car we headed into the Reserve itself, admiring the stage and semi-natural amphitheatre, past the dog exercise area, until we realised we were heading the wrong way. Luckily we noticed a path up against the fenceline that was heading upwards, so we took that and emerged from the stairwell in an area remarkable for it's lumpy volcanic rubbish.

From there we crossed the road to the top and continued up the footpath, which later becomes an unformed track. Yes there's a lot of up, but it's quite gentle really. We walked around the crater and back down the other side of Maungawhau, then back down to the car. Pretty simple, but some nice views. Like so many other Auckland volcanoes, this one also has a water reservoir, although it's kind of camouflaged.

Here are some pics:

Ok here are not some pics. For some reason I can't get them to upload. I'll try again tomorrow if I get a chance.

Walk took us about 45 minutes, lots of interesting views, a little bit of farm life, and a great bronze map thingy at the top with direction and distance to all sorts of places in Auckland, NZ and the world.

No walking this weekend


Another case of busy-ness getting in the way of walking. Sigh.

Onehunga to Ambury Park, and return - 17th Mar. 2007


Yesterday we were looking for a short walk. The Book reckons Ambury Park is only an hour, and flat, so it seemed like a good option. However Nickname Pending decided to extend it by starting our plodding in Onehunga, on Princes St...

We headed down Princes St and then through the Onehunga Foreshore Park, across the SH20 overbridge, then back along the side of the motorway by the Manukau Cruising Club. Eventually we reached the old Mangere Bridge (crossed previously) and headed to the other side. We followed the signs to Ambury Park through the suburban streets, and finally reached the regional park itself.

From there it was an easy 45 minute walk in a circuit around the foreshore. Lots of sheep, lots of birds (including a pesky flock of pigeons) and a really prodigious amount of faeces. Nice views of the Manukau Heads, and interesting info boards about the natural and historical features of the area. The end of the walk went through the educational farmyard section of the park, including the biggest horse I have ever seen.

Then we walked back to Onehunga via the waterfront mainly, past a sculpture exhibition, along the old bridge, and then up Onehunga Mall to the car (much shorter than the way there!)

All up this took us around 3 hours and 45 minutes. A long time, in fact our longest walk yet. I got sore hips and ankles, from too much relentless walking on concrete.

And here are some pics.
One of the many power pylons along the route:


The view from Kiwi Esplanade back across the harbour to Hillsborough:


A lava cave in the Park:


View from the Park to the Heads, with sheep:


Moss along the Manukau foreshore on the way back to old Mangere Bridge:


(There was no walking last weekend as we had Other Stuff on)

Hunua Falls & Cosseys Reservoir - 3rd Mar. 2007


We headed down south yesterday, to the Hunua Ranges Regional Park. Getting there was easy, despite our lack of a map book, thanks to the Day Walks of Greater Auckland which gave simple instructions from Papakura. The walk starts in the Hunua Falls carpark. You begin by crossing the river by bridge, giving a great view of the waterfall. We headed along to the base of the falls first, although this wasn't actually on the walk we were doing, and also ventured to the Lower Falls Lookout. We tried to go to the Upper Falls Lookout but the track was poorly signed and we ended up on the Massey Track instead. Unfortunately we didn't know this and went back down the Massey Track when we needed to go up it.We sorted it out reasonably quickly, but this was really a bad sign for what was to be quite a bad walk.The idea was to walk to the Cossey Reservoir and back. And we did this. But the walk there was two hours, mostly uphill and often very steep or stepped, through bush that got rather dull after the first hour, and afforded little in the way of views. There was a great kauri grove not long before the Massey Track meets the Cossey-Wairoa Track, which you follow to the reservoir, and there was a lookout over the reservoir itself, but generally the bush was too overgrown in the few lookout spots to actually see much. The below shot is one such example of the frustrating attempts to take some interesting snaps: The reservoir was quite nice, but somehow I managed to produce very dark pics.Again the lack of good signage was frustrating. We kept walking around the reservoir and in the end took a bit of a punt on which way to go as there were no signs. Luckily we were right.More interesting than the two hour slog there was the one hour walk back to the carpark along the Cossey Gorge Track. Again I was frustrated that we could hear the stream but not really see it. This is the best view we got. Actually, it was the only view we got.The Cossey Gorge Track was more gentle, although still satisfyingly rugged, including crossing a stony river bed (which wasn't too much of a hassle after Maungaroa). Plus I felt much better for coming across two friendly German Shepherds and their walkers.And then, not a moment too soon and with legs aching from all that up, we were back at the carpark. I wouldn't have minded this walk so much if I'd had some inkling of just how much up there would be. The book graded it a 2 out of 3 for difficulty, but I would definitely put it at 3, and the pain in my legs today would testify to that too. The tracks are generally well formed, covered in stone chip, but the signage is a problem. Normally I would have picked up a brochure of the walks from the information point in the carpark, but there were none there on this occasion, so perhaps with one of those life would have been easier. Despite the detours and frequent stops for poor old me (Nickname Pending found it challenging too, but is not cursed as I am with short hamstring and calf muscles which make uphill torture at times) it took us pretty much bang on 3 hours. I strongly recommend avoiding the heat of the day (we started at 2pm but were still quickly drenched in sweat).[...]

No walking last weekend or this


Last weekend was consumed by the Great Cat Crisis of 2007, while this one has revolved around the much nicer event of a wedding.

Hopefully back on the tracks next Saturday.

River and waterfall walks, Maungaroa Station - 11th Feb. 2007


Step 1. Drive to Te Kaha on the East Coast, on SH35.
Step 2. Turn right (if coming from Opotiki, left if coming from Gisborne) up Copenhagen Rd.

Step 3. Drive along it until you come to the unsealed road marked with a sign marked Maungaroa Station Rd.

Step 4. Gently proceed along said road, trying to avoid the really big stones unless you dislike the underside of your car and want to punish it for unspeakable transgressions.

Step 5. Continue through a gate marked Maungaroa Station, being careful of course to shut it after you if it is open.

Step 6. Keep driving for a considerable distance more along an ever worsening road, including across dry riverbeds, until you reach some houses. At that point you may wish to approach the one with the cute puppy and ask for a) permission and b) directions to the walk.

We headed up river for about an hour and a half then walked back. This involved a lot of crossing the river back and forth, picking the shallowest spots. For this reason shorts and sandals are the go.

On the way back we took a short track to a small waterfall, marked by neon spraypaint on trees.

All up, including a stop for lunch and several shorter breaks to attempt to skim stones, take pics, avoid scaring cows, over 3 and a half hours (plus the drive there and back).

And here are some pics:

(image) And what farm-based walk post would be complete without a donkey shot?


Three tracks, Duder's Regional Park - 3rd Feb. 2007


Today Nickname Pending and I drove out eastwards to Duder's Regional Park, and this time it wasn't raining.The park sits on a peninsula, with a historic pa site on the far end, and a whole lot of farm between the carpark (with helpful signs and map leaflets) and that headland.We started out by heading left from the carpark, following the red markers of the Farm Loop. This involved some pretty unpleasant up within a few minutes, and it actually hurt to breathe. The views from the top of the ridge were great - the farmland to the south and south-west, the Hauraki Gulf to the north, tidal flats and wetlands to the east, and Duders Bay sweeping to the west. We continued to follow the red markers through various fields on the ridge, some dotted with skittish ovines and one including the trig station.Eventually we came to a post that also had blue markers, which indicated the Whakakaiwhara Pa Walk. Sadly at this point we went the wrong way and ended up not heading towards the end of the peninsula, but at the start of a coastal walk.We decided to follow this for a while and see where it went. When the coastal walk petered out we kept going around the coast (luckily the tide was out) and eventually found a spot to clamber up and rejoin the Whakakaiwhara Pa Walk, almost at the headland itself. There at the end of the peninsula, where once there were defensive trenches and kumara pits, was a lovely restful spot where you could gaze out at the Gulf, Waiheke Island, Ponui, Pakatoa and even Rangitoto in view.And then, the best thing happened - what appeared to be a fishing boat turned out to be a full size waka, clearly on it's way to Okahu Bay for Waitangi Day on Tuesday. Fantastic to watch it at full steam, and we walked much of the way back along the ridge to rejoin the Farm Loop with their coordinating chants ringing in our ears. Then we went through the cow paddock and along part of the Farm Loop again, and followed the metal road back to the carpark. Which had another one of those previously controversial frames (just like at Cascades).All up it took us 2 hours 45 minutes, despite the error, and with the now customary many photo stops. Good walking shoes are essential, and there is a lot of long grass. Also for the first time since walking at John O'Groats in Scotland in May I felt the need of insect repellent.Wonderful, varied, views - a good place to take visitors to NZ if they are ok with uneven land and massive bovines.(Pics added 8.45pm Sunday 4th Feb 2007)[...]

Waiheke Sculpture Walk - 1st Feb. 2007


Attentive readers may have noticed that the above date is a work day. This was indeed a work trip, and the photos have been stolen from a colleague and are thus not my own product.

Caught the ferry from the CBD, which then went through Devonport and then landed at Matiatia. From there we caught a shuttle up to the start of the Sculpture walk itself, but I'm sure you could walk it.

The walk is free and the brochures that explain the artworks are $5. There is a little station at the start that you can purchase brochures and water from, and half way around there's a delightful coffee stall, which also had hot chocolate but not trim milk.

The walk itself is actually part of the track to Church Bay, winding around the edge of the peninsula that is to the right as you enter Matiatia on the ferry. Lovely views and a well constructed track in most parts (although I understand there are some local politics around land-owners encroaching on public walkways through out the island).

The sculptures were modern, and mostly very clever. I particularly liked Clip Clop, which is a bridge with lose planks that create a xylophone effect. The blurb in the brochure talks about the story of Billy Goat Gruff and there is an obviously political element to the piece, in terms of local land ownership and use issues.

There's also a great fun work with orange and pink hats and scarves which you can use and return to a wooden box later on the walk.

Here are some of the pics of the sculptures, which are arrayed along the cliff edges, taken by my colleague:
All up I think it took us maybe an hour, but I don't have a watch. I didn't even have to wear decent walking shoes - just slides - and at time I went barefoot as it was nice grass.

Mt Richmond & Hamblin's Hill - 27th Jan. 2007


Yesterday we ventured to the southern most reaches of Auckland City, first to Mt Richmond in Otahuhu and then to Mutukaroa-Hamblin's Hill in Sylvia Park.Mt Richmond is next to Sturges Park, and you can access a road to the base of the hill from either Great South Rd or Mt Wellington Highway. It's quite neglected, although the potholes have (mercifully) recently been filled.We parked and walked up along the crater rim, which is quite extensive. There are some massive and majestic trees, including camera-defying Moreton Bay figs (which may be familiar to some readers from Albert Park, while Monte Cecilia Park has some of the largest examples in NZ.) We could see the geometric marker, but it took us quite a while to work out how to get there, as the trees are big, and thus mask much of the park. Whilst trying to reach it we found a really enormous fungus growing on a felled tree, and stumbled across some very flighty goats and a single sheep. They insisted on either standing in the shade or running away (or both) so no snaps of them. There were cows too, but after my experience in Cornwall Park I wasn't game to get up close enough for a decent pic.Eventually we figured out how to get up to the marker, along the way spotting previously conquered Mangere Mountain, amongst other volcano peaks. At the top we could see the Otahuhu Power Station too (the two tall grey chimneys right in the centre of the photo). We also discovered there was a water tower (a la The Big King) on one of the other summity bits.Then we tottered down, and drove back to Great South Rd, to the entrance to Mutukaroa-Hamblin's Hill Regional Park. We initially went in via a sub-optimal route, but it worked out. There is a carpark and entrance on Great South Rd, not far from the intersection with Sylvia Park Rd. The park is a working farm also, so there is a loading yard at the entrance. Of all the ARC Parks we have visited so far this is the least visitor-friendly. It's clear that they have only been developing the non-farm aspects such as walks and native plantings since about 1998 or 1999, and there is little sign-posting of where to go from the entrance. We walked through some planting done in a previous quarry, and tried to get up to the peak of Hamblin's Hill (another water tower) but it wasn't obvious where to go, so we figured maybe you weren't meant to head up there just yet.Instead we took a walk down hill through reasonably new bush to the South Eastern Motorway. Again the lack of development was obvious, and at one point there was a signpost that took us off to a dead end. There was also a clearing at one point with a rusty water tank, an area fenced off for no apparent reason and a park bench. The shed at the start of the walk says there are tobacco plants throughout the bush, but sadly I don't know what they look like. It was a lovely walk through the bush, despite the lack of finishing, with some plants I certainly hadn't seen anywhere else.Mt Richmond took us about 45 minutes, and we rambled around quite a lot. I would recommend closed shoes and long trousers (in hindsight) due to a lot of long grass and nasty things underfoot. Hamblin's Hill took up roughly 55 minutes, but hopefully in the future there will be more walks available, in particular to the summit.[...]

Mangere Bridges and Mountain - 21st Jan. 2007


Today we went on a lighter walk, with the aim of assaulting the previously attempted Mangere Mountain (rained out). We parked at The Landing, on Onehunga Mall, and headed off across the Old Mangere Bridge, now closed to cars but open to fishers. The wind was blowing something fierce, as we walked past the concrete works, across the old bridge and into the pleasant suburb of Mangere Bridge. We headed through the strip shops on Coronation Rd, then up MacIntyre Rd, followed by Scott Rd, which led to the carpark at the base of the summit to Mangere Mountain. We walked around the crater rim, gradually heading up and up and up. Great views out across the Manukau Harbour, which of course includes the former sewerage ponds. We could also see a number of other Greater Auckland peaks including One Tree Hill, and Rangitoto (with the cement works and bridges in the foreground). All of the plaques had been vandalised, but one showed the volcanic processes that had formed the mountain. We didn't notice until too late to read about this through the tags, but there is a little hill in the middle of the main crater, the perfect place for a wicked game of Spotlight.There were quite a lot of people on the mountain, mostly just walking, sometimes with dogs, but also flying remote control gliders. Mangere Mountain has two peaks, both with navigation thingbos. Here's the lower of the two, from most of the way up. Once we'd walked right around the rim we headed back down Hastie Ave, cut through Mangere Bridge School to do the fitness trail (the monkey bar defeated me), then back along Coronation Rd to the Gasoline Alley station.From that point we diverged from our path to the mountain, heading instead for the walkway under the New Mangere Bridge, which started on the other side of a park. It was covered in graffiti, which actually looked really beautiful as it was so multi-coloured. Not quite the Via Dell'amore in Cinque Terre, but still fab. Half way across there was a lookout, and in the water below a trolley cemetry.Took an hour and three quarters, I stopped alot for pics (as always). An easy walk, but the tracks on the mountain are not properly formed, only goat trails, and as a result there are some parts where the footing is poor, particularly near the top of the mountain where there is a high amount of scoria. A good walk for a good weather day.[...]

Again no walking this weekend


Saturday was a horrible day, although we drove out to the walk of Nickname Pending's choice in the hope the weather was better out there. It wasn't.

Sunday was taken up with other commitments but turned into a wonderful day.

Next weekend we are going to try to walk on Sunday afternoon, due to other stuff on Saturday.

Narrowneck to Milford Coastal Walk - 6th Jan. 2007


Yesterday's odyssey was undertaken with Homer, as Nickname Pending was at the cricket.The Narrowneck, Takapuna and Milford coastal walk was down for three hours in the Day Walks of Greater Auckland book, but in fact it took us more like three and a half. Although there were some pauses for photos, sea glass and ice cream, we didn't stop enough to justify the extra half hour, so I suspect that the book did not include walking to the other end of Milford Beach, which we did because I used to sail from there. We drove towards Devonport and turned off for Narrowneck, then parked in the large car park on the other side of the road from the beach reserve. The path from Narrowneck to Takapuna beach is actually non-existent. You simply clamber around the rocks (if the tide is high-ish) or walk around the sand in a northly direction heading towards Milford. We started out at about 1.30pm and high tide had been at 10.15am. There was still quite a lot of awkward clambering, but on the return journey the tide had gone out considerably more and it was a comfortable walk along the sand in most places.Once at Takapuna it's a matter of walking along the beach to the far end (where there's an ice cream shop) and then following the path around the coast to Milford. This path is sometimes concrete, sometimes shell, and even a wooden boardwalk at one point. There is some interesting lava, lots of lichen, and yesterday there was a good view (if you had binoculars) of the 470 World's, which was based at Takapuna Beach. Here are some snaps:Looking back at Narrowneck from the rocks. Cliffs between Narrowneck and Takapuna Cormorant with 470 fleet in background. Some mysterious rusting metal between Narrowneck and Takapuna Typical shell and stone litter between the rocks.Moss on the rocks between Takapuna and Milford.A sand pattern wot I liked, between Takapuna and Narrowneck.A NZ-shaped rock formation Homer spotted.Rangitoto from the sand.All up a very pleasant meander, I recommend decent walking shoes or sandals and lots of sunscreen - even though it was cloudy and I had slapped I still got a bit burnt. While we walked from Narrowneck to Milford you could just as easily do it in reverse and there is probably more parking at the Milford end. Or you could just do bits of it, although apparently the Narrowneck to Takapuna part is impassable too close to high tide. [...]

Mt Haszard and Waimangu - 28th Dec. 2006


Another Rotorua walk (guess where Span went for her holiday!). Again this is not actually in Rotorua, but on a side road off State Highway 5, heading to Taupo. And this is the first walk I've paid for - $28 each for the privilege. This bought us access to the valley, with it's many thermal wonders, and a really quite comprehensive leaflet outlining the key points, local flora and fauna, the route, and with a timetable for the boat (extra, didn't use) and bus (included, used to get back to the start).Everytime we go to 'vegas and have some spare time we try to go to one of the geothermal areas. Partly this is because I am trying to find the one that I visited when I was about 8, when I stayed for the first time ever in a hotel where they put mints on the pillow at night. Unfortunately Waimangu was not the right smelly part of Rotorua, but it was a good walk.The whole main walk is downhill, starting with some beautiful panoramas from the top. You slowly wend your way down the valley to Lake Rotomahana, where you can pay extra to go on a cruise to where the pink and white terraces used to be. The first geothermal wonder is the Emerald Pool in the Southern Crater, which has some very orderly algae and sphagnum moss. I'm not sure this counts as geothermal as it's cold. Next though is the Echo Crater and Frying Pan Lake, as well as the Cathedral Rocks that loom over one end. Seriously large amounts of steam.At the end of the lake you can walk right down to a hot water creek and springs, with mineral deposits creating a crazy palette. Then there's the brilliant turquoise Inferno Crater and the Bird's Nest Terrace. At this point we decided to head up. You can follow the main path along the floor of the valley, following the hot water stream, or you can climb the hiking trail up and over Mt Haszard. I was sure when we bought our tickets that the seller said it was only another 20 minutes, but the leaflet said an extra hour. We did it in about 40 minutes I think.It is a very rugged track going up, and my there is a lot of up; even the down is very steep. Nice views of the Rift Valley (no, not the one in Africa) and the lake though. And also some of these flowers.Then it was back to the main track, with more mineral-painted terraces such as the Marble and Warbrick. Then a short nature walk to the lake and the bus back up the hill. I was pretty disappointed with the nature walk, until all of a sudden there was a crashing in the bush and a wallaby on the track. A bad time to run out of memory space, luckily it was patient with me.There were two of the blighters, clearly hoping for some food. We callously did not indulge them.And then we were at the lake. All up I think the walk took us around two hours. Unfortunately Nickname Pending didn't check his watch at the start. It's a gentle downhill incline, suitable for wheeled conveniences, with the exception of the Mt Haszard part, as previously mentioned.[...]

Tarawera Outlet to Tarawera Falls - 27th Dec. 2006


This is a Rotorua-based walk, although more accurately it ought to be called a Kawerau-based walk, as that's the closest town. To get to the start of the walk you need to go along the Forestry Tarawera Road, which is a private, unsealed, road, hence the need for a permit from the information centre in Kawerau. It's $2.50, and they give you two maps of the area and the road, as well as the permit itself. Once you get to the camping ground by Lake Tarawera, it's a simple matter of walking over the new wooden bridge (which has replaced the swing bridge referred to in the Walks in the Rotorua Lakes area leaflet we bought from the Rotorua Information Centre). Then you can pick the walk left to Humphrey's Bay and ultimately meet up with the Lake Okataina tracks, or you can turn right, as we did, to the Tarawera Falls. The Tarawera Outlet is where the river from the lake to the falls begins. It's a typical NZ freshwater estuary, complete with children jumping off the bridge when we were there.The walk partly follows the river as it heads towards the falls, but wends away at times. Much of the bush has regenerated since the 1886 explosion of Tarawera, and there are massive rocks strewn through the surrounds - often with trees now growing around or through them. It gives you a sense of the power of the eruption to see these huge boulders thrown so far from the mountain. In places the ground is totally overgrown with odd little plants and mosses, in others ferns predominate. The bush here was not like in the Greater Auckland area - few kauri, no nikaus, mostly pohutukawa, rata, and other trees I wasn't familiar with. While we heard a lot of birdsong none came close enough to see or snap. The track also goes through a particularly alien landscape at one point. Most of the time it's all reasonably typical native bush for this part of the country, but then you end up in this higher area, where it's all scrubby manuka, much of it covered in black moss. Perhaps a part of the land particularly scarred by the eruption. The river itself has a number of minor waterfalls along it, and also a very inviting water hole, complete with several rope swings. Very tranquil and restful. Other parts are reasonably wild, and at several points various parts of the river plunge down into the rock and disappear underground, Ultimately we ended up at Tarawera Falls, where the river spurts out of the cliffs. There's a cobbled area there with a few benches and we stopped to have a picnic before heading back. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the falls, stopping a lot for photos. On the way back it started to rain a little so we pushed the pace a bit and made it the whole way back in only an hour. The signs (and leaflet) say two hours each way, and there is quite a bit of up (some with stairs) but mostly it's a gentle slope down on the way to the falls, and obviously the reverse on the way back. I would also advise wearing closed shoes. The track is maintained through small stones which are really annoying if you are wearing sandals, even decent ones like Tevas.If you wanted to see the falls but didn't want to walk so far you can also access them through a 20 minute walk from Waterfall Road, where there is a carpark and toilets apparently. But that would be cheating.[...]

Again no walking - weather inclement


We even drove to the carpark for the start of my bad weather back-up walk, but the weather is just too cold to risk the showers.

Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill - 16th Dec. 2006


Today Nickname Pending and I didn't go too far afield - it's about a twenty minute drive from our place to One Tree Hill, which we would be able to see out our lounge window if it wasn't for the cursed trees across the road and their damnable upward growth.Following the instructions in Day Walks of Greater Auckland, we entered Cornwall Park from the north entrance, which is off Greenlane, on to Pohutukawa Drive. There is a stone wall on the lefthand side as you drive in, and at the end of this, where it meets a wire fence, is a style, and on the other side of that begins the narrow dirt track around the permiter of the Park. We roughly followed this, through paddocks with sheep, cattle (including one that wanted me to go away) , and lots of nice (largely exotic) trees and long grass. We made it most of the way around in plenty of time, so decided to go up to the summit once we hit the west entrance road, as recommended in the book. We basically just followed the road up, along with many others, some of whom were disturbingly running and/or pushing baby buggies. Here's a pic of the summit, while walking up to it: And here's the obligatory child-running-around-the-plaque shot,Followed by the now mandatory tree's-eye-view(if-there-were-a-tree) picFrom the top we could see a lot of the peaks we have already visited; the Devonport volcanoes, Mt Albert and Mt Roskill, and the Big King (I think, there was a hill with a water tower on top anyway). Then there was my nemesis, Mt Eden, looming malevolently. And of course some lovely views of the city in general, such as the outlook towards the Manukau: The walking is largely easy, although I would recommend wearing long trousers if you have sensitive skin - I had a lot of welts on my legs from reacting to the grasses. There is a surprising amount of up going around the perimeter, and obviously the summit itself is a hill, but not challenging. Watch out for the animals - most are fine but some are not. In total this walk took us around two and a bit hours, including the detour to the summit. Bird-life is mainly exotic (although we did see a dead tui), as are the trees. If anything it reminded me of walking in a less-tame version of Chatsworth, the English estate. [...]

Waitakere Dam & Tramline Walks - 9th Dec. 2006


Yesterday we drove out along the North-Western Motorway, got off at Lincoln Rd, then headed through Swanson and Ranui (old leafleting haunts both) to Scenic Dr and the Waitakeres.We did the Dam walk first, which leaves from a carpark on Scenic Dr, handily festooned with a Waitakere Dam Carpark sign. Other signs however were misleading. One said it would take 1 and a quarter hours to get to the dam from the carpark. It took us only about half an hour, following the road down the hill. It's quite a boring walk there really, although we took two short bush diversions - one to a large kauri just off the road, the other was a track than ran below the road for a few minutes with some great views towards the Cascades Golf Course, which we had seen when we did the Auckland City Walk a while back.Here's the typical view walking along the road to the dam. The dam itself is quite spectacular, much bigger than I'd expected. There is a noticeboard explaining some of the history of the dam, the tramline, and of course the vital pipeline that carries the water from the reservoir to the city. The dam from the hill wot you walk down to get to it.Looking up at the dam from beneath. There are nice toilets (longdrops of course) and there's a little section of bush below the damn, with some beautiful tui - it's strange seeing them from above and noticing the beautiful teal plummage that we miss from our usual vantage point.Then we walked back up the hill a little to the start of the Tramline Walk. It doesn't follow the tramline the whole way, as it is too dangerous near the dam itself due to a fragile cliff face. But it was a pleasant and interesting walk including:Looking back along the track, and the pipeline A narrow but very high waterfall you walk under:The first, short, tunnel, going in: The Tramline Society's mini train - stopped at Picnic Flats when we came across it. And the second tunnel, which is closed off and apparently quite long (with glowworms!).It marks the end of the Tramline track and from there you can either turn around and go back to the Dam track to get out, or head along the West Tunnel track. We chose the latter. Which turned out to be a grand decision, because not only was there cool moss,there was also impressive fungi. The West Tunnel track was pretty muddy in parts, and at one point, where we had to cross a stream, it was very difficult to work out where the track went next. There's evidence that the ARC is starting to put boardwalks through, but the work is only just begun and at the moment the track is quite a challenge in parts. Eventually we met the Anderson Track and turned along that towards Scenic Dr. All well and good until we got to a fork in the track... In the end we just picked one, no science to it. It took longer than 5 minutes to get there, but we did end up out on Scenic Dr. Unfortunately there was no indication of the direction of the carpark from the bush exit, so again we picked a direction and walked along the road, until we established that we had gone the wrong way, then we walked all the way back to our starting point, and then about another twenty minutes further to the car. All up I think we walked for about two and a half hours. It would have been just over two without the mistake at the end. The walk to the dam is easy going down, but would be a bit of a puff coming back. The tramline walk is great, but the way out from there is soggy and difficult in parts. Once the boardwalking is complete it will be fantastic. [...]

Perimeter Track, Wenderholm Regional Park - 2nd Dec. 2006


Today we headed north, along State Highway One, past Orewa, and then Waiwera, to sunny Wenderholm and it's Regional Park. As with Cascades Kauri Regional Park, the walks here are well organised - with a useful map at the start of the tracks which takes you through the options, including which are suitable for buggies (or not ok for jandals). The tracks are clearly sign-posted throughout, for the most part, and when it might get confusing, with a number of tracks converging, their are colour-coded posts to help. Big ups to the ARC.We picked the Perimeter Track, recommended in our Day Walks of Auckland book. This involved a lot of up at the start, as we climbed Maungatauhoro, a former pa site. The tracks up included a lot of steps and boardwalks, as well as several well placed lookouts and a chance to see an old midden (which rather reminded me of why I found archaeology so boring at university).The views from Maungatauhoro were great, and luckily the weather just got better as the day progressed.The start of the Puhoi river, below: Looking east from the top:Once you reach the top you can either walk back the way you came or take the tramping track down, which is largely unformed and would be very difficult in wet weather. We both had decent walking shoes so we headed down the tougher section, and the grips on my Tevas were indispensable.Eventually we came out at Kokoru Bay, where in a former life I once cleared some bush (for reasons unknown) during one of those pointless weeks at the end of Sixth Form. Nice view across the river to Waiwera itself. However the noise from State Highway One is pretty full on from about half-way down the hill until the track stops following the road and turns back into the park around half an hour later. At one point there was a whole gaggle of loud motorbikes heading across the Waiwera bridge, and even though we were a considerable distance away the noise reverberated around the bush and disturbed the peace.The bush is not as regenerated as at Cascades Kauri, and I don't think I've ever seen so many nikaus in one place. Bird-wise we heard tui, saw piwakawaka (fantails), and of course blackbirds and thrush. My moss obsession continued. Almost the entire walk is through bush cover, until you start walking back to the carparks, along the road into the park itself. Here there are cows and sheep, not to mention a really large number of ducks. Before heading back to the car, after about an hour and a quarter of walking, we decided to have a quick squizz at Couldrey House.Lovely spot, unfortunately it was $2 each to go in, which is fine except when you don't have any cash on you.Then we decided to walk back to our vehicle along the beach. In a vain attempt to extend the tan on my feet beyond the patches my sandals expose I took my Tevas off, forgetting how hot the sand can get on a sunny day. The beach and picnic areas were being well used, and we spotted some oystercatchers on the sand, and of course the ubiquitous gulls. Great set-up, interesting walk with information points along the way, definitely keen to come back and do some of the other tracks in the area, particularly the Puhoi walk which includes the pa area itself.(Pictures added 7th Dec)[...]

Devonport volcanoes - 25th Nov. 2006


This morning we headed over the bridge to Devonport and had a tasty brunch at The Stone Oven, just off the main road of "Devonport Village" as it is quaintly labelled in the map book. Then we lazily drove up the hill to the carpark, as far down as Mt Victoria as we could park, next to Devonport School. The plan was to knock off three more volcanoes - Mt Victoria, Mt Cambria and North Head (Maungauika), walking between them and then back from North Head along the Devonport waterfront.Mt Victoria has always been the poor cousin to North Head in my mind, in all those years I lived on the Shore - I thought it was shorter, it didn't have exciting tunnels, and it was too far from the water to attract my sea-spray soaked adolescent mind. I'd only been up Mt Vic once before, and had no real recollection of what was on the top. I believe I'd gone up by car rather than foot.There's no clear track up, unless you follow the road to the summit, which we weren't keen to do. Luckily we spotted quite a few other people walking up on the grass so we just followed them and found there is a foot-created path that circles around and around the side, rather treacherous in places. The views going up, and on the top, were great:Our next destination, North Head, from the top of Mt V: On top of Mt Victoria is a weather station, and a field of airvents decorated as mushrooms. The weather station reminds me vaguely of the Empire's probe on Hoth.There's also two quite cool bronze relief maps - one of quite a large area of the North Shore and Hauraki Gulf, the other just of the borough of Devonport. Below is a view of the city with the bronze Mt Vic in the foreground: We then headed down Mt Victoria, following the road, then headed up Kerr Rd, along St Aubyn's, left down Church, and into the Mt Cambria Reserve. Most of the time we walked between Mt Victoria and North Head we seemed to be on the Walking School Bus route for Devonport School: Mt Cambria isn't really a mountain, or even a hill. Maybe it was quarried away, there's certainly a lot of stone used in walls around the area. Whatever, it's really just a slight rise, topped by this lookout.The reserve itself includes the Devonport Museum (which was closed) and the walks within it are well laid out although neglected.Next we headed onwards towards North Head, crossing Vauxhall Reserve (cricket in progress), right along Cambridge Tce, through Devonport Domain (more cricket), left on Cheltenham Rd, then right up Takarunga Rd, to the entrance to Maungauika. I've come to the conclusion that Devonport is possibly one of the most English of Auckland's suburbs.North Head has changed since the days I swarmed over it repeatedly as a child. Many of the tunnels I used to pursue have locked gates on them now, and I have a fear of the dark I didn't seem to be afflicted by in my early youth. Now the fences are down, and the summit is no longer the exclusive domain of the Navy. We walked right up to the top where there is a photo gallery and 15 minute video in the Stone Kitchen. The video is fantastic - it talks about the arrival of Maori in the region and the names they gave the hills in the area, then the use of the summits for military purposes from the fears of Russian invasion in the late 1890s through to the end of WWII. The top of Maungauika was a navy training site for many years, before being added to the rest of the park in the mid to late 1990s. The video includes a number of 3D animations of North Head and F[...]

No walking this weekend - weather inclement


Sadly my great plans for Saturday's walk could not come to fruition. I even had good and bad weather plans, but conditions were so dastardly that the bad weather one was still too optimistic.

However on Friday afternoon I did pick up two useful Auckland City walk brochures, pictured below, at the Onehunga Library.

There was quite an impressive range of heritage walks, although I only grabbed the original shoreline one (the black leaflet). The green one covers the Point to Point walkways (we have already done Tahuna Torea), the Coast to Coast, and the Manukau Coastal walkways (including the Blockhouse Bay explorer, Te Ara O Tiriwa, which has also already been completed).

Two things though:

1. Why aren't these resources available, at least for download, on the Auckland City Council website? (Or if they are, why couldn't I find them?)


2. Some of these walks are 3 or 4 hours in one direction. It's then necessary to get back to your starting point for your car. But the public transport system isn't up to it, particularly not on a Sunday. Mercifully there is supposed to be a regular bus from Onehunga back to QEII Square for the Coast to Coast. But the Original Shoreline walk looks very interesting, with an excellent guide to the streets and sights in the black pamphlet, yet I'm a bit stumped about how to get back to the start again.

Humph, I'm probably just grumpy because I didn't get to walk yesterday.

Writers' Walks


Googling around (aka procrastinating) found this link to NZ's Writers' Walks and other literary "destinations". The Auckland ones seem to all be on the North Shore.

Could be a useful resource if we run out of volcanoes or walks in the Day Walks of Greater Auckland book, although I don't see that happening anytime soon...