Point to Point Walkway

The Point to Point Walkway follows Auckland‘s coast from St. Heliers Bay to Point England.

Click here to see the area on Google Maps (note that this is not the exact walk, although it’s reasonably close).

You can view the full gallery of 17 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

I drove to St. Heliers on a beautiful Sunday morning, and it was so busy that I drove right on through and up the coast a short distance to Achilles Point. I walked along St. Heliers Beach later that evening, after taking a bus from the end of my walk.

St. Heliers Beach
St. Heliers Beach, Achilles Point in the background

St. Heliers has a nice beach, but Achilles Point is situated atop coastal cliffs, and has a viewing platform with nice views of central Auckland and Tamaki Straight, including Browns Island, which was looking especially photogenic that day.

Browns Island
Browns Island

Browns Island is a recreation reserve accessible only by kayak or small boat.  It is also one of the best preserved volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field.

Auckland CBD from Achilles Point
Auckland CBD from Achilles Point
Pouwhenua at Achilles Point
Pouwhenua at Achilles Point

Glover Park is a nice enough little local park, but following the path shown below leads back to the cliffs and more great views of Tamaki Strait (the picture of Browns Island, above, was actually shot from Glover Park).

Glover Park
Glover Park

Churchill Park is mostly pastures, cows and tree stumps, but I’m sure it’s great for locals looking for a break from the roads and sidewalks.  It serves that same purpose for the Point to Point Walk as well.

Churchill Park
Churchill Park

After Churchill Park a short walk takes you back to the coast, and just a bit further the Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve begins.  Tahuna Torea is beaches much of the way, with great views, surrounded by green, and extends a great distance along the coast.

Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve

I followed the beach to a sand spit that extends out into Half Moon Bay.

Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve

I found that sand spit interesting enough that I had to walk to the very end.

Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve

The picture below looks back along the sand spit toward Tahuna Torea.  The body of water to the left is called Wai O Taiki Bay.

Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve

I had made it this far along the low tide route, but the tide was not low.  I was quickly stymied when I tried to continue along the coast, and had to backtrack a fair distance in order to make use of a boardwalk across a stretch of mud and mangroves and continue south.

Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve

It looks like Tahuna Torea transitions into Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve, then into Point England Reserve. I followed another boardwalk for a short Tahuna Torea walk, but when it reached a carpark I decided to call it a day, and catch a bus back to my car.

Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve

The walk from St. Heliers back up to Achilles Point offered a dramatic early evening view of the Auckland CBD.

Tamaki Strait and Auckland's CBD
Tamaki Strait and Auckland’s CBD

I plan to go back and finish this walk, but next time I’ll do it at low tide.  I think that I can do the whole thing along the coast, below the cliffs and along the beaches, avoiding the roads entirely.

You can view the full gallery of 17 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Kea are facing extinction

Kea are the world’s only alpine parrot, they’re found only in New Zealand, and their numbers are estimated to be between 3000-4000.  The population has declined rapidly.

Kea photographed by backpackingmatt @ reddit
Kea photographed by backpackingmatt @ reddit

Kea are very cool birds, and I was disappointed to see none of them on my trip through Arthur’s Pass this summer.  They seek out interaction with humans, very unusual for wild animals.  Sadly the way that humans interact with kea is one of the things putting them in danger of extinction.

Keas in Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand. The population has plummeted thanks to non-native predators, lead poisoning and hunting by people who consider them pests. Photograph: Andrew Walmsley/Kea Conservation Trust
Keas in Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand. The population has plummeted thanks to non-native predators, lead poisoning and hunting by people who consider them pests. Photograph: Andrew Walmsley/Kea Conservation Trust.  from  the guardian

An estimated 150,000 kea were killed from the 1860s onwards thanks to a government bounty introduced after conflict with sheep farmers. DOC and the Kea Conservation Trust continue to record intentional kea deaths each year (either shot, bludgeoned, or poisoned by humans) though targeted kea deaths are thought to be largely under-reported, because they are an endangered and protected species.

“Education efforts have gone a long way towards New Zealanders learning to love and respect the kea, but if the kea cause financial loss or begin to hit people’s bottom line, that is when we are still hearing stories of Kea being killed.” said (Jack) Kemp.
the guardian

Kea in flight
Kea in flight.  from Radio New Zealand

Predators like stoats, possums and cats were also taking their toll on the kea population.  The Department of Conservation uses 1080 poison as one of its primary methods of controlling these invasive species.  Unfortunately kea also eat the poison.

A juvenile Kea (Nestor notabilis) perching on some rubble on the Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand. from Wikimedia Commons

A juvenile Kea (Nestor notabilis) perching on some rubble on the Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand. from Wikimedia Commons

Cinnamon-flavoured, cereal food pellets will be spread from the air, twice. The first time they will be just flavoured cereal. The second time, they will contain deadly 1080 poison.
Kea will eat the cereal baits and die. They will also be poisoned if they drink from ponds and alpine tarns where the baits lie, or scavenge poisoned carcasses or eat the dying insects surrounding the poisonous baits.

It was first recognised that the government’s poisonings were killing kea in 1963.

In 2008, government monitoring of the kea began.

The monitoring showed that large numbers of kea were dying.
1080Science

Unfortunately the practice continues, and over the years various practices intended to minimize consumption by kea have been abandoned.

A kea investigates a carload of tourists. - Wikimedia Commons
A kea investigates a carload of tourists. – Wikimedia Commons

This has been a sad post to write.  The links above offer info on efforts to save the kea. Have a closer look at 1080Science and their efforts to end the use of 1080.  It would be a great shame to lose these cool and unique birds.

A kea about to land on a white vehicle, with wings outspread showing their orange underside.
A kea about to land on a white vehicle, with wings outspread showing their orange underside. from Wikimedia Commons

Anawhata

Anawhata is one of those regional parks that is really mostly just a beach.  But as the Auckland Council page says “Anawhata is a spectacular beach that can only be reached by foot. Because it is less accessible, it is much quieter than other beaches in the Waitakere Ranges“.  But on the map it looks like Anawhata Road will get you very close to the beach.

Have a look at Anawhata Beach on Google Maps.

Anawhata Beach
Anawhata Beach

You can view the full gallery of 21 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

The Arataki Visitor Centre is on the way to Anawhata, so I stopped in to see what advice they could offer.  The lady told me that Anawhata Road is an 11km long narrow gravel road, that the locals drive it very fast, and to leave no valuables in my car.  These are all common to rural roads in New Zealand.  She also told me that the walk from Anawhata Road is very short.  She offered me another option – walking to Anawhata Beach from North Piha.  I wanted a walk, and avoiding Anawhata Road sounded good, so I chose the latter approach.  This involved walking in reverse part of the Marawhara – White – Rose – Laird Thomson Track Circuit in North Piha that I walked earlier this winter.

I started by parking in the carpark at the end of North Piha Road and walking north along the beach.

Piha Beach, Lion Rock and Taitomo Island in the distance
Piha Beach, Lion Rock and Taitomo Island in the distance

I was able to get a better shot of some interesting sea caves at the north end of Piha Beach.

Sea caves at the north end of Piha Beach
Sea caves at the north end of Piha Beach

At the north end of the beach a track leads up the steep coastal hills, with an option to walk out to Te Whaha Point.

Te Whaha Point
Te Whaha Point

I walked as far as the saddle before Te Whaha Point, and had lunch while enjoying the view of Whites Beach.

Whites Beach
Whites Beach

A look at these hills from near Te Whaha point gives no indication as to how steep the climb to Anawhata Road actually is.  Most of that climb is a paved driveway, and the rest is gravel and not at all muddy, but it is a monster climb.

Inland from Te Whaha Point
Inland from near Te Whaha Point

It was easy to find the trail at the end of Anawhata Road that leads down to the beach.  You get some nice views of the beach as you approach, and the surrounding landscape is impressive as well.

Approaching Anawhata Beach
Approaching Anawhata Beach
Anawhata Beach
Anawhata Beach

A rock and pool at the entrance to the beach has a lot more character than they first reveal.

Rock and pool at the entrance to the Anawhata Beach
Rock and pool at the entrance to the Anawhata Beach
Rock and pool at the entrance to the Anawhata Beach
Rock and pool at the entrance to the Anawhata Beach
Rock and pool at the entrance to the Anawhata Beach
Rock and pool at the entrance to the Anawhata Beach

Other interesting features are likewise not immediately visible.

View from the entrance to the Anawhata Beach
View from the entrance to the Anawhata Beach
View from the middle of Anawhata Beach
View from the middle of Anawhata Beach

It was an overcast and chilly day.  There was one person at the beach when I arrived, but she soon left.  It took me some time to walk there, and I didn’t want to do the walk back in the dark, so I didn’t stay too long.  The tide was in, and the stream was deep enough that I didn’t make it to the other part of the beach beyond the ridge!

Anawhata Beach
Anawhata Beach

The part of Anawhata Road I saw was well-packed gravel.  That doesn’t tell me anything about the other 10km, but I might consider driving back at some point, depending on the kind of outing I’m looking for.  Anawhata Beach has a lot of character, and I’d like to see the rest of it!

You can view the full gallery of 21 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

North Shore Coastal Walk – Narrow Neck to Ngataringa Bay

I haven’t found anything in Auckland that I’ve enjoyed as much as walking the coast, especially the part of the east coast that makes up the North Shore Coastal Walk.

Rangitoto Island, a constant companion on the North Shore Coastal Walk
Rangitoto Island, a constant companion on the North Shore Coastal Walk

In a recent exciting episode I spent a second day walking the North Shore Coastal Walk starting at Castor Bay and continuing to Narrow Neck Beach, and almost to Cheltenham Beach, before finding that the tide was too high to continue along the coast.

South end of Narrow Neck Beach
South end of Narrow Neck Beach

I had another look at the map, and realized that there was a fair bit of coast yet to walk from Narrow Neck around the point to Cheltenham Beach, and around North Head, so I decided to try it again at low tide.

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

It was a beautiful day, and the cliffs south of Narrow Neck offered lots of photo opportunities.

South of Narrow Neck
South of Narrow Neck

At the point where I had turned back last time the water was still a bit too high to walk through without getting my shoes completely wet.  I had started about an hour before low tide, so I decide to wait.  A woman and her son came by, and she told me that the tide was high, and wouldn’t be low for another 6 hours.  She was exactly wrong, but the boy continued and she followed, inspiring me to do the same.  The water had receded significantly in the 10-20 minutes that I had waited.

Low tide required, Cheltenham Beach in the distance
Low tide required, Cheltenham Beach in the distance

I really love the rock formations like this that are found all along the coast of the north shore.

North end of Cheltenham Beach
North end of Cheltenham Beach

Cheltenham Beach is beautiful, as is Northhead.

Cheltenham Beach and Northhead
Cheltenham Beach and Northhead
Northhead
Northhead

I had explored Northhead previously, but I had started near the top, and it is so steep that I avoided walking too far downhill.  I didn’t realize that gun emplacements and access extend all the way to the coast.

Gun emplacement on the coast of Northhead
Gun emplacement on the coast of Northhead

I like these stairs up.

Stairs up Northhead
Stairs up Northhead

This cool walkway hugs the cliffs taking you right around the point.

Walkway around Northhead
Walkway around Northhead

After central Auckland comes into view the walkway appears to go underground, although closer inspection shows that you can unlatch a gate and go “offroad” for a short distance.

Central Auckland from the Northhead coast
Central Auckland from the Northhead coast

Tunnels connect a couple of gun emplacements and various storage areas for ammo and such, and a set of stairs that emerge higher on Northhead.  I explored a bit, then went back to follow the coast.

Beneath Northhead
Beneath Northhead
Beneath Northhead
Beneath Northhead

A short walk on the rock shelf brings you to Torpedo Bay, with Torpedo Bay Navy Museum and a small cafe with a great view.  Then you’re back on Kind Edward Parade walking toward the Devonport Ferry enjoying views of Central Auckland.

Kind Edward Parade, Auckland CBD
Kind Edward Parade, Auckland CBD

It was far too nice a day to stop.  I had been told that it was possible to walk around Stanley Point, so I kept going.

Complicated laws with convoluted histories make access to New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed a requirement, but I confirmed that the military trumps all that.

New Zealand Navy
New Zealand Navy Base

New Zealand’s Navy is a very small one, but I decided to go around the navy base rather than fight my way through.  Steps near the main gate take you a block up the hill, and several blocks take you past the whole base to Stanley Bay.

Stanley Bay and Auckland CBD
Stanley Bay and Auckland CBD

It was about 40 minutes after low tide.  The water was a long way out at Stanley Bay, as you can see above, but as I walked around the point and the Harbor Bridge came into view the shore became rocky and narrow.

Harbor Bridge from Stanley Point
Harbor Bridge from Stanley Point

Climbing began to be necessary.  I almost turned back at one point, but after a closer look decided to walk along a narrow shelf with a low overhang.  The waves lapped at the rock shelf below, and in a short time would put it underwater.  My backpack scraped the rock above me, but I made it through.  The picture below looks back at what is probably the most treacherous part of any of my coastal walks – although falling may have only meant a wet camera and a cold swim.

Stanley Point coast
Stanley Point coast

The coast changes here.  At high tide it maybe not be possible to walk the coast here, but shortly after low tide there was lots of space to walk, although the rock shelf turns to mud as you continue into Ngataringa Bay.  There are docks along the coast here with walkways up to to homes atop the cliffs.

Ngataringa Bay coast
Ngataringa Bay coast

It was somewhat tempting to head out across the bay, but I wasn’t at all interested in getting even ankle deep into mud, and a mud-flat walk did not sound nearly as appealing as a coastal walk.

Ngataringa Bay
Ngataringa Bay

There was a rock shelf for a short distance.

Ngataringa Bay coast
Ngataringa Bay coast

And then there was mud.

Ngataringa Bay coast
Ngataringa Bay coast

I reached Ngataringa Bay Sports Fields to discover that they are Navy property, and have the same signs warning civilians to keep out.  With no option for continuing along the coast except the mud, I decided to call it a day, and cut back across the peninsula via Stanley Bay Park.

This is another great walk along the coast of Auckland’s North Shore.  From here however, the Ngataringa Bay coast seems to be the muddy domain of mangrove trees, and Shoal Bay seems the same.  And yet there are beautiful spots like Marine Parade Reserve and Lansdown Reserve, so I’ll just have to continue to explore this coast to see what it has to offer.

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

Orakei Basin

Orakei Basin is in the Orakei suburb of Auckland, which has nothing to do with these guys:

A replica of an Uruk from Peter Jackson' film trilogy - Wikimedia Commons
A replica of an Uruk-Hai from Peter Jackson’ film trilogy – Wikimedia Commons

(Even if New Zealand does often call itself Middle Earth.)

Nor should Orakei be confused with these folks:

Iraqi people - Wikimedia Commons
Iraqi people – Wikimedia Commons

Orakei, from the Māori Ōrākei, is located on a peninsula five kilometres to the east of the Auckland city center, on the shore of the Waitemata Harbour.

Auckland city center from Bayswater Marina
Auckland city center from Bayswater Marina

For a look at the Orakei Basin on Google Maps, click here.

You can view the full gallery of 21 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Orakei Basin is one of the volcanoes in the Auckland Volcanic Field. It has an explosion crater around 700 m wide, with a surrounding tuff ring. After eruption about 85,000 yrs ago, it became a freshwater lake that had an overflow stream in the vicinity of present Orakei Rd bridge. As sea level rose after the end of the Last Ice Age, the lake, which by then had shallowed to a swamp, was breached by the sea and has been a tidal lagoon ever since. A tidal lagoon, it is popular for watersports. A railway line (the North Island Main Trunk, branded as the Eastern Line for suburban services) runs through the north side of the basin.
Wikipedia

Orakei Basin
Orakei Basin

I felt like a walk closer to the city, and I found the Orakei Basin Walk.

Parking in the city can be not so fun, so I took the ferry in from the North Shore.  There is a train station very near Orakei Basin, but it was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk there along Tamaki Drive.  The Tamaki Drive Walk is a great coastal walk; I’ve done it many times on a bike.

View of Waitemata Harbor, Devonport and Rangitoto from Tamaki Drive
View of Waitemata Harbor, Devonport and Rangitoto from Tamaki Drive

This is downtown Auckland.  I was immediately reminded of the advantages of weekday walks in remote regional parks far from the city center where you encounter no people.  But Tamaki Drive does offer some pretty great scenery.

Tamaki Drive
Tamaki Drive

After leaving Tamaki Drive the road climbs enough to offer views of Auckland over Hobson Bay.  There is no crosswalk near the  intersection with Ngapipi Road, so you get to play Frogger to get across.

Hobson Bay and central Auckland
Hobson Bay and central Auckland

I got onto the walkway from Orakei Road, and chose to walk in a clockwise direction, starting by crossing the boardwalk along the north side of the basin next to the railway line.

Orakei Basin boardwalk
Orakei Basin boardwalk

A bench at the east end of the boardwalk, looking back over the basin toward the city center, was a nice spot for a break.

Orakei Basin
Orakei Basin

Continuing clockwise there’s a cool curvy bridge over an arm of the basin.

Orakei Basin Walkway Bridge
Orakei Basin Walkway Bridge

A group of cormorants (shags) complimented the scenery at the northern end of the bridge.

Shags near the bridge
Shags near the bridge

After crossing the bridge and getting back to the shore, the path follows the shore through the Orakei Basin West Reserve, which also lines the whole southern edge of the basin.

Orakei Basin West Reserve
Orakei Basin West Reserve

The sun was setting in the west, as it does, and shining some its best light on the eastern edge of the basin.  The rest of the walk is green like this, with views over the basin the whole way.

Orakei Basin West Reserve
Orakei Basin West Reserve

I skipped the walk back, and caught the train to central Auckland from Orakei Station.  Britomart station is right across the street from the ferry terminal.

I’ve never met anyone has gotten tired of ferry trips on Waitamata Harbor, even if they do it daily as a commute.

Central Auckland at night
Central Auckland at night

You can view the full gallery of 21 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Huia

I had never been to Huia Regional Park, so I stopped in at the Arataki Visitor Centre for help choosing a walk there, and to ask about conditions.  A loop starting along the Karamatura Loop Walk, the diverting onto the Karamatura Track, Donald McLean Track, and Fletcher Track was recommended.  I started at a carpark near the Karamatura Campsite.

Carpark near Karamatura Campsite
Carpark near Karamatura Campsite

You can view the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Huia is another regional park within the Waitakere Ranges.  It is close to Makukau Harbor, not far from Whatipu.  The drive to Huia offers views of the harbor coast, but this walk is mostly bush, at least until you get to the top.  Just before things get really bushy you get this view of two big steep hills.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I believe I was about to climb the one on the left.

Near the start of the Karamatura Loop Walk
Near the start of the Karamatura Loop Walk

Visitors are made aware of the area’s history of logging, and some relics are displayed.

Preserved relics of the area's logging history
Preserved relics of the area’s logging history

The trail gets steep before the falls, but gets much steeper after.

Karamatura Track
Karamatura Track

You have to walk off the track a bit to get to Karamatura Falls.  The hills are steep on all sides, forming a sort of little grove that includes the pool at the base of the falls.  It’s a great spot for a break, so I had lunch.

Karamatura Falls
Karamatura Falls

After this things get very steep.  The forest is dense, and the roots form something like stairs.  Not your normal stairs, like you’ll find in a place with room for stairs – think stairs like you might find in central Amsterdam.  Without these I’m not sure that any kind of surface would make it possible to walk up.  Conditions were fairly wet and muddy, but although the climb is exhausting, slipping wasn’t a problem.

When the bush opens up there are views of the other cliffs.

View from Karamatura Track
View from Karamatura Track

The top is a very narrow ridge.  Without the dense trees it might be pretty intimidating.

At the top of the ridge
At the top of the ridge

The track continues along this ridge for a short distance.  Openings in the bush offer views over the harbor.

View over Manukau Harbor
View over Manukau Harbor
View over Manukau Harbor
View over Manukau Harbor

The descent along Fletcher Track is steep, it was muddy, and slipping was definitely a problem.  I was running out of daylight so I had to keep moving – walking that track in the dark would be dangerous, even with a light.  I put my camera away and focused on finding the best footing I could.

This is a great walk, but it would be a good idea to do it in dry conditions, and only when you are up for a real workout.

You can view the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.