Whatipu

In which Miles visits another west coast beach that holds its own very well among like likes of Karekare, Piha, Bethell’s and Muriwai.

To view the full gallery of 17 images on imgur, click here.

It seemed a different route into the Whatipu area than what I took last year, although I’m a bit surprised if there is more than one way.  It is very scenic, and I’ve resolved to return and make use of my Action Cam’s dashboard mount on the way in.  It’s long since time I start a YouTube channel.

The photos in this gallery do justice to the beach, but not to the scenery that starts on the drive in and continues along the way to the beach.  I’ll definitely return soon, and I’ll have a look at my photos from last year as well.

Path to Whatipu beach
Path to Whatipu beach

A friend and I had planned to walk a half hour to the sea caves along the beach, but went the wrong way right from the info board.  We quickly encountered a swampy, reedy dead-end, and opted to cross a bridge that would lead us south to the beach, rather than north.  We had lunch at a picnic table near this dead-end later, and watched as the majority of visitors made the same mistake we did, and also discovered the right way to go from watching these people work it out.

We figured that we’d just walk a little further on the beach, enjoying the south end first before heading north.  We had no idea what obstacles would lie in our path.

The path, the beach, and the first river to cross
The path, the beach, and the first river to cross

We went all the way to the Manukau Harbor to find a place to cross the first river without wet feet.  A log took us across the second.  I think one or more of these may have been actual rivers.  But as we walked we found that there were many serpentine pools of water, and we began to work our way around them.

Manukau Harbor and Manukau Heads
Manukau Harbor and Manukau Heads

The tide must have been very low, because we walked on the beach for hours without ever coming very close to the Tasman Sea – even while trying to find a way around the many water hazards in our way.  Walking in sand always presents additional challenges, but in places it got soft enough to sink in to our ankles before we knew it.  It held on to our boots in such a way as to make me wonder if we needed to worry about quicksand – I believe I’ve seen signs warning of it at nearby beaches, although I don’t hear about it nearly as much as things like rip-tides and undertows.

There was always the option of taking off our shoes to wade, but it was a bit cold, and we hoped to walk quite a ways further.  We also didn’t really want to try the sand beneath these pools or streams or whatever they are.

No dry way forward
No dry way forward

One we reached a point where we could see no way of crossing the water in front of us, we climbed some sand dunes to get a look inland.  We tried a grassy area, but found swampy ground.  We decided our only option was to head back.  First we tried walking along the tops of the sand dunes, then tried the sand just beside them and found it reliably solid.

Sand dunes and deceptive swamp
Sand dunes and deceptive swamp

The sand made it a solid hike, and the scenery was enough that we didn’t leave disappointed.  And we left knowing how to do the thing that we went there for in the first place.  There are also a number of tracks inland left to explore in the future.

To view the full gallery of 17 images in imgur, click here.

 

Wenderholm

In which Miles visits a regional park known for its birds, and again finds himself enjoying beautiful coastline and bush.

To view the full gallery of 24 photos, click here.

Anyone talking about Wenderholm seems to mention the wood pigeons that pursue a certain kind of berry with intoxicated enthusiasm, nearly bumping into park visitors in apparent drunkenness, supposedly for some mind-altering quality of these berries.  Sadly I didn’t see any of these large drunken birds.

Fantails were the most persistent beggars, followed closely by ducks.  They convinced me that people feed them regularly.  I saw it at least a couple of times.

FantailFantail

The Te Akeake Walk was just a half-hour loop, so I started with that.  It follows the coast around a narrow, beachy peninsula with views of the Hauraki Gulf and the Puhio River.

Puhio River, Hauraki Gulf
Puhio River, Hauraki Gulf
Overlooking the peninsula around which I had just walked
Overlooking the peninsula around which I had just walked

The Perimeter Track climbs to a viewpoint overlooking  that peninsula.  It follows the coast before descending to Kokoru Bay.  From there it leads to the park entrance, and an easy walk back to where I parked.

Kokoru BayKokoru Bay

Wenderholm is a nice scenic park with more trails to walk, and more birds to be seen.  For more info see the Auckland Council site.

To view the full gallery of 24 photos, click here.

 

Rahopara Pa

In which Miles visits historic Rahopara Pa, and revisits Kennedy Park.

To view the full gallery of 12 photos on imgur, click here.

This started as a second visit to Kennedy Park, but I thought I remembered that there was something more at the end of the park, and wanted to have a look.

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There are some signs in the area furthest from the car park.  This gate leads to the pathway to Rahopara Pa.

The path leads along the coast, behind the back yards of some nice houses.  It shows off some nice natural landscape and some great views of Rangitoto Island.

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The furthest corner of the pa, with another view of Rangitoto Island.  Walking along the coast, the pa area seemed pretty small, but on the map it appears to extend away from the coast and downhill a bit further than I explored.20150710_150933

“This is a small pa on a headland in a public domain north of Takapuna City. The defended site is a small headland citadel, but excavations showed that the initial site was a much larger terraced settlement, making use of the natural defences of the cliffs, with the inland slopes terraced. At a later time about one third of the site was defended with a ditch and bank, but without palisading. The earlier settlement included deep rectangular storepits as well as shallow pits which were interpreted to be house sites. An earth oven pit belonging to the earlier occupation has been dated to between AD 1466 and 1648.” (NZ-1762). Department of Conservation.  link

It sounds worthy of a closer look some time.

I did walk down to the shore again at Kennedy Park, and took some more pictures of the place.  I didn’t see any more giant rays.

To view the full gallery of 12 photos on imgur, click here.

 

Orewa Estuary Walkway

In which Miles visits the beach-side community of Orewa.

To view the full gallery of 10 photos on imgur, click here.

Also called the Te Ara Tahuna Estuary cycle and walkway, this is a nice place for locals to go to walk or cycle, and even a good way to get around the area away from cars and traffic.  It doesn’t compare to walks like the Te Henga Walkway though.  Orewa Beach is right there, and looked pretty long.  I think just walking along the beach would have been a nicer walk.

Orewa Estuary has mangroves in various states of growth along the shores.  About half way around there are back yards of houses on the other side of the walkway.  The other half was basically a sidewalk along a road, although there was construction in a grassier area through which the path may run when completed.

A common theme repeated itself on this walk – at a certain point the path ended at a sidewalk on a residential street, and I used Google Maps to find my way back to where I parked.  The walkway is a loop, but there are paths that branch off of it.  I think I chose wrong at a sign that indicated that the walkway went both left and right, with no further explanation.

I had a little time to spend on the beach, and took some photos there as well.

To view the full gallery of 10 photos on imgur, click here.

 

Te Henga Walkway

In which Miles walks the Te Henga Walkway, and discovers O’Neill Beach.

To view the full gallery of 43 photos on imgur, click here.

Almost a week ago I posted about a mission to walk the Te Henga Walkway that turned into a visit to Bethell’s Beach and Lake Wainamu.  In this post I’ll tell you about my return to the area to walk part of the Te Henga Walkway.

This walk is ideally done with at least two people with cars, so that one can be left at the Muriwai end of the walk.  Most of the people I met along the way seemed to be doing this, although at least one guy was walking it both ways.  The DOC site only talks about walking to Constable Road, but more people seemed to be sticking to the coast and heading for Muriwai Beach.  The walk is 3-4 hours one way, so walking there and back the same day would be doable, but I rarely get started early enough for that.  On this particular day I would have turned back out of fatigue alone, and I’m not really sure why, although there were some long and steep climbs.  It was very windy; maybe I wasn’t drinking enough water.  At one point you go all the way to the top of the cliffs overlooking the sea, and you can see a long distance inland as well.  The Bethell’s Beach area doesn’t get mobile phone coverage, but you get it the top of those hills.

I’ll let pictures and their captions tell the rest of the story.  To view the full gallery of 43 photos on imgur, click here.

K Dine / Ambrosia

I give K Dine 4 bars for offering WiFi that is fast, free, reliable and unlimited.  There are no plugs near the tables though, so you’ll want to arrive with a fully charged battery.

K Dine has among the highest of ratings among restaurants in the Albany area.  I understand that it is a high-end restaurant for dinner, with a romantic atmosphere, offering wine pairings with evening meals.

I’ve only been there for lunch however.  It is usually relatively quiet at lunch time.  To bring diners in at lunch, they offer a great express lunch menu consisting of delicious meals for $16.50, with a drink.

The staff are always courteous and professional, welcoming and friendly.  The food is always good.

K Dine is changing their name soon to Ambrosia.  Here are links to their old and new websites:  K DineAmbrosia

K Dine
K Dine

 

Bethell’s Beach and Lake Wainamu

in which Miles goes looking for the Te Henga Walkway, but explores another west coast beach and a nearby lake instead.

For the full gallery of 29 images, click here.

I had planned to visit the Te Henga Walkway, which starts near Bethell’s Beach, although I had gotten sort of a late start.  I missed the small car park for the walkway and ended up at the beach car park, so I went for a look at the beach instead.  On my way back I found the car park for Lake Wainamu, and found that I still had time for a walk around the lake.

I’m still having problems with images in WordPress, and I’m going to avoid a fight with it today by loading just one image for this post.  I tell the whole story in captions under the photos on imgur, so enjoy the full gallery of 29 images, and the rest of the story there!

Mokoroa Falls & Muriwai Beach

In which Miles visits the falls, thinks better of numerous slippery stream crossings, and instead pays a short visit to Muriwai Beach.

To view the full gallery of 22 pictures, click here.

Mokoroa Falls is in Goldie Bush Scenic Reserve. I parked at the end of Horseman Road. From there it’s just a 30 minute walk to the falls.

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The DOC site offers maps and more information.

I like a good loop, and Mokoroa Stream Track meets Goldie Bush Walkway, which leads back to Horseman Road. But it had been raining a lot lately, and I chose to heed the warning I read in this sign. I later read online that these stairs lead to the area at the foot of the falls, which I would have enjoyed visiting.  One more good reason to return!  Instead, I walked some ways down the Goldie Bush Walkway, then returned to Horseman Road, and drove to Muriwai Beach.

Fork in the road
Fork in the road

Muriwai Beach is another Auckland west coast beach, just north of Bethell’s Beach.  Somehow it always seems a bit less dark than west coast beaches like Phia or Karikari, but it does feature rough dangerous waters, long expanses of black sand, and rugged cliffs and shoreline.

Muriwai Beach
Muriwai Beach

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Muriwai is home to a large gannet colony.  About 1,200 pairs of gannets nest here from August to March each year.  Many are close enough to the viewing platforms for great viewing.  Others nest on a couple of mesa-like islands just off shore.  You can see one of these in the photo below.  The young grow up here until they can fly.  Since they launch by jumping from the cliffs, they have to get it right the first time.  They then fly across the Tasman Sea to Australia.  They return here to nest a few years later.  I’m not sure whether the parents make the trip again with the young, but there were few if any gannets here on my latest visit.  Read more about the gannet colony on the newzealand.com site.

Muriwai gannet colony,  empty for the winter
Muriwai gannet colony, empty for the winter

Muriwai Beach and the surrounding area is impressive, and deserves further exploration.  The Te Henga Walkway is about 4 hours each way, but I decided that I would walk at least part of it soon.

To view the full gallery of 22 pictures, click here.