Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

In which Miles visits Tawharanui Open Sanctuary for the birds, but gets drawn in by the beautiful coastline and white sand beaches.

Unfortunately WordPress is growing increasingly unresponsive when I try to work with a lot of images in the default photo gallery.  I’m going to make them available on imgur only until I find a solution to the problem.  To view the full gallery of 45 pictures on imgur, click here.

As I mentioned previously, several people I spoke with at Shakespear Park recommended Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.  It’s about an hour north of Shakespear Park, and well worth the drive.  I like to wake up knowing my outdoor plans for the day, and I was confident that I was going to enjoy Tawharanui.

I explored the walking track options before arriving.  The Mystery Walk sounded interesting, but I was told to “Be sure to grab a brochure from either the ranger station or the sanctuary hut located just south of Anchor Bay to do this walk”.  The ranger wasn’t in when I arrived, I never located the sanctuary hut, and in any case I had already mostly decided that the Ecology Walk would be a better  first walk at Tawharanui.

I went for the birds, but I was instantly taken with the coastline.  A view of the white sand beaches of Omaha Bay and Anchor Bay greeted me about 30 seconds from the car park


The cliffs were riddled with caves.  They all looked like bad places to be when the tide came in.


I followed the coastline for a while, until walking began to turn into climbing.  When an opportunity presented itself, I headed back inland to try to pick up the Ecology Trail.  The Ecology Trail headed through some bush, with lush native vegetation and for the more fortunate, or more observant, native birds.  I was even alerted to the presence of a kaka 50 meters up the trail, but in spite of that friendly heads-up I didn’t see it.



The Ecology Trail exits the bush to another view of Omaha Bay.


Approaching this beach, I heard faint, strange, haunting sounds coming from the cliffs.


As I got closer I became sure that I was really hearing something, and followed it around the cliff on the right.  The sound became louder, and when I rounded the bend it became clear that the sound of a colony of birds had been bouncing off the rocks along the shore, nearly obscured by the sound of the waves.

A fellow hiker at Shakespear Park the day before had told me about the speakers on the cliffs of that park, and that at times they played the sounds of a breeding colony to attract the type of birds they want to draw to the park.  I don’t know what kind of happy bird sounds they were playing at Tawharanui.



From there I followed the coast toward the beaches I had left to join the Ecology Trail.  As it turned out, by starting out along the coast, I had started out walking the Ecology Trail in reverse.  Returning along the coast made the end of the walk more exciting.  Although the bits of climbing I had to do were accomplished with one hand, the dark clouds coming in off the water added another element of adventure.  In places the waves seemed to be on the verge of cutting off my access, but then they had seemed to be doing that when I was coming the other way too, a couple of hours earlier.

Below are some views of the coast of Omaha Bay, from the Ecology Trail.  I found the stone arch particularly photogenic.



It had started to rain by the time I reached the part of the coastline I had walked before.  The birds came out to watch the rain come in.  Below is a small group of cormorants, or shags.


The oyster catchers below seemed to be trying to intimidate several dotterels, but the dotterels didn’t seem to be having it.


Dotterels are an endangered bird that they’re happy to have at Shakespear Park and at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.

For more information on Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, visit the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary website, or the Auckland Council website.

To view the full gallery of 45 pictures on imgur, click here.

Shakespear Park 2014

In which Miles looks back on a previous visit to Shakespear Park.

There is a gallery of 18 pictures below.

I took a picture of the fence, something that is missing from my previous post.  This photo shows the cyclist/pedestrian exit.

The predator-proof fence
The predator-proof fence

This visit was on April 6, 2014.  The weather was warmer, more people were out, but it looks like it was a bit drier, judging by the color of some of the grass.    The tide was also a lot lower, at least early in my visit.

Te Haruhi Bay
Te Haruhi Bay

On my way in last year I stopped at Army Bay.

Army Bay
Army Bay

I took a track through some of the park’s bushier areas.

A bushier part of Shakespear Park
A bushier part of Shakespear Park

I hope you enjoy this second look at Shakespear Park.

Enjoy the full gallery of 18 images below.

Shakespear Park

In which Miles visits Shakespear Regional Park, decides to wait for better weather, and returns to walk the Tiri Tiri Track.

There is a gallery of 39 pictures below.  To view them on imgur, click here.

The weather has turned in New Zealand, and rain, cold and wind are the norm.  It’s late spring, but people switched from saying “winter is coming” to “winter is here” a few weeks ago.

The weather site offered just enough room for optimism.  I made the drive to Shakespear Park, and enjoyed some time in the sun, and some time dodging brief but heavy showers.  I spent some time on the beach at Te Haruhi Bay, and looked over the maps at the information center, but didn’t go further.  The sun may shine and the sky may a lot of blue, but a good look across the gulf would reveal rain out on the water, and on the move.  It got very cold and wet with little notice.

It was a good day for rainbows.

Te Haruhi Bay
Te Haruhi Bay

Shakespear Regional Park is an open sanctuary.  There is a predator-proof fence across the neck of the peninsula to keep out pests that would prey on native plants and animals that have been successfully reintroduced to the park.  The fence opens and closes automatically for cars, and at the press of a button for pedestrians and cyclists.  The park is now free of stoats, rats, wild cats, possums, hedgehogs and ferrets, and is home to the endangered dotterel, which are breeding successfully, and to brown teal (pateke), banded rail, red-crowned parakeet (kakariki), kaka, seabirds, and six species of skinks and geckos.

Peacocks greeted me near the information center.  They acted like they expected me to feed them.


I think I saw some dotterels on my shorter visit, but I didn’t have good zoom available at the time.  I spoke with a couple who recommended Tawharanui Regional Park for bird watching, and then later with a woman who recommended the same.  This helped me decide on a plan for the next day.

The weather site predicted a break in the rain in the middle of the week, and this time it didn’t let me down.  With a little creative rearranging of my schedule, I was able to get several days in a row in the sun.  On the first sunny day I returned to Shakespear Park to walk the Tiri Tiri Track.

Shakespear Park is at the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and the Tiri Tiri Track offers great beach and cliff-top views of the Hauraki Gulf, Tiritiri Matangi Island, Rangitoto Island – and on a clear day many other Hauraki Gulf islands and even the Coromandel Peninsula – and the city of Auckland and the always recognizable Sky Tower.  There is some bush, with some kauri I’m told, and lots of green pastures and sheep.

In the picture below you can see, moving left to right from Little Barrier Island half-hiding behind the ridge on the left, Tiritiri Matangi Island, another open sanctuary from which various birds come to Shakespear Park, Great Barrier Island behind Tiritiri Matangi, the Coromandel Peninsula, Waiheke Island, and Rangitoto Island.  You’ll need to zoom in, at which point you’ll see some panorama stitching artifacts that I didn’t bother to fix.

Tiri Tiri Track
Tiri Tiri Track

I’d like to see the Pink Beach.  Unfortunately it seems to be underwater during high-tide.

Pink Beach
Pink Beach

The name of this track gave me pause.  This is the gate at the bottom end of the trail, with a twin at the top.  I was already not liking the look of the steep path behind that first gate, and the name wasn’t helping.  It was clear that it lead to Te Haruhi Bay, and there was no other way forward from where the Tiri Tiri Track had led me.  It grass was wet and the ground was muddy.  My feet slid out from under me twice on the way down.


If I recall correctly, Shakespeak Park has some different looks from what I saw last week.  I believe I’ll look back on my 2014 visit.  Should share some photos with you here?

Visit the Auckland Council website for more info on Shakespear Regional Park.

There is a gallery of 39 pictures below.  To view them on imgur, click here.

Henri Cafe

In which Miles gives props to a 5-star, 4-bar WiFi café.

Henri Café has fast, reliable internet at no extra charge.  Get the WiFi password on your first visit.  I haven’t seen it change.  Other than needing to be reset now and then, it has always been there for me.  I’ve always had what I need to get work done online.  There are plenty of places to plug in, with sockets for every table along the long wall.  This is my favorite place to spend a day working and drinking tea.  I like to sit at a table in the front room, and watch the weather on Victoria Road.

The owner and staff at Henri are very friendly and helpful.  I’ve always been made to feel welcome, even at the end of a 7 hour day.  Henri opens at 7:00am and closes at 5:00pm.

Henri Café is a clean, modern, well-lit space on Devonport’s main drag at 10 Victoria Road, just a few blocks from the ferry.  The menu is broad, with a wide selection of snacks and meals at a wide range of prices.  A burger and fries costs around $17, an Italian Chicken or Greek Salad is available at about the same price, with cold sandwiches (toasted if you prefer) at $6.50.  They offer a good selection of black, green and fruity teas.  I don’t drink coffee, but many loyal customers do so every day.  Treats to enjoy with coffee or tea include muffins and scones and tarts.

Check out Henri Café on Facebook:

I don’t currently have a photo of Henri Cafe.  There are two on the internet; one at the Facebook page above, and one on Google.