Maps posted near some of the entrances are helpful as an overview of the park. Trails are not named on the map, but there are some signs posted in Dingle Dell Reserve. Trails are mostly identified by the roads to which they lead.
A large willow-like tree (maybe a totara?) overlooks the open grassy area, and a couple of long strips of lawn that reach south into the trees, at the north end of the park near Dingle Road and Woodside Crescent.
The benches here are a good place for a rest, and for watching the many birds in the park. Tui chased each other through the trees, battering the foliage with their wings like I’ve never seen birds do. They seemed to like the narrow strip of grass stretching off to the southeast.
It was here that I saw an eastern rosella, a parakeet native to south-eastern Australia. Rosella were introduced to New Zealand in the early 1900s, and are now common over much of the North Island, but I had only seen one previously. He wouldn’t let me get close enough for a good picture. I saw him, or a friend, later, in deeper bush.
The nīkau is a palm tree endemic to New Zealand, and the only palm native to New Zealand.
You can see nīkau palm in many of these pictures of Dingle Dell Reserve.
There’s variety in the bush here.
Dingle Dell Reserve is a nice little park, good for a short walk through native bush, for watching birds, and for cool and quiet on a hot day.
You can view the full gallery of 9 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
The weather changed constantly the two days we spent driving back. It was nice when we arrived at One Tree Hill, but we could see the rain rolling in over the city.
It rained hard, then cleared, and gave us one of the best rainbows I’ve seen in New Zealand. It was a nice welcome home!
I saw a poster for Kite Day, and we returned for that the following weekend. One Tree Hill is located within the larger Cornwall Park in central Auckland.
We were a bit early, so we had a brief look around Cornwall Park before I figured out that we were in the wrong place for the kites. Several groups of people did tai chi in the calm of the morning.
Deeper research on Google showed me where the kites were, and we went there. There were ground-based activities, mostly for kids from what I saw, but I was interested in the kites.
I hadn’t really seen kites like this before. They look best if the shape is successful at taking in enough air to keep them inflated so that they can keep their shape. The air inside comes from the wind; no part of the kites are otherwise inflated.
The manta ray kite below kept its shape very well.
Many of them have smaller kites to help them stay in the air and/or keep their shape.
The giant Santa is still there at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets. He looks a lot better since his 2009 makeover, and decidedly less creepy since the removal of the winking eye and beckoning finger.
We’ve had a couple of hot days in December, but it hasn’t settled into a consistent summer yet. Today started looking a bit rainy, but the skies are now clear and blue, and we’re hoping the wind will die down a bit more. If it does, we’ll probably go for a walk on the coast, otherwise we might opt for the shelter of the bush.
Franklin Road in Freeman’s Bay has a reputation in Auckland as a good place to see Christmas lights, so we went for a walk there last week.
The kiwi snow man is a great idea!
The Sky Tower is lit red and green for the holidays.
I wish you all very happy holidays!
You can view the full gallery of 14 pictures below.
I haven’t yet traveled much in Asia, but from my first days in New Zealand I’ve enjoyed the large amount of authentic Asian culture in New Zealand. In 2016 I was lucky enough to experience Thailand in New Zealand.
The first Thai Buddhist temple I ever visited was Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple in Auckland. Neither visit was during regular hours for services, so it was quiet and nearly empty.
I haven’t been to Thailand, but I enjoy the ways that New Zealand meets Thailand in the temples here. Watyarnprateep Temple was once a typical New Zealand farm house. Even more New Zealand are the caravans that serve as housing for some of the monks. Note the Buddhas on top of the caravan below.
The Thai style looks great in the New Zealand landscape.
On 13 October 2016 the King of Thailand died at 88 after a reign of 70 years, 126 days.
The lèse-majesté law makes it illegal to it criticize the king (or queen, heir-apparent, or regent). But many Thai people seem to have sincerely loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. There was an official mourning period of 30 days before the new king was crowned.
When I arrived most people seemed to be involved in making sure everyone was fed. Every Thai restaurant in the area seemed to be serving food to anyone who was hungry, and other people brought dishes to share.
We dressed in black, but everyone was happy, friendly, and very welcoming.
Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery is located on a plot of former farmland among fields still being cultivated. In the picture below a monk walks along the driveway with young apple trees in the background.
Some of the monks live in buildings identical to cabins found at many New Zealand campgrounds.
The temple is in the living room of a former farmhouse.
People lined up with bowls of rice and spooned it into the bowls of the monks as they walked past.
There was a procession in honor of the deceased king.
The procession included a couple of different kinds of money tree.
Many mourners purchased gifts for the king in the form of clothes given in his name to the monks.
Like Watyarnprateep Temple in Auckland, Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery is fairly modest, but has some beautiful features.
On November 15 Thai people gathered in Aotea Square near the Auckland Town Hall, and said their final goodbyes to their king.
His son King Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted the throne on the night of 1 December 2016. His reputation is very different from that of his father, and the people of Thailand wait to see what the future will hold for their country.
Thai people and their culture are, for me, another interesting and welcome addition to the overall culture of New Zealand.
You can view the full gallery of 24 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
Te Mata Park is a 99 hectare recreational reserve with a variety of hiking and mountain biking tracks, a fair number of which seem to converge on the peak. Other trails lead through forest and along limestone valleys.
The landscape of the park itself is the most beautiful part of the view in every direction.
Many centuries ago the people living in pa (fortified villages) on the Heretaunga Plains were under constant threat of war from the coastal tribes of Waimarama. At a gathering in Pakipaki (near Hastings), a wise old woman (kuia) suggested that the leader of the Waimarama tribes, a giant named Te Mata, could be made to fall in love with Hinerakau – the daughter of a Pakipaki chief – and turn his thoughts from war to peace. This mission was quickly accomplished, and Te Mata fell under the spell of the beautifully Hinerakau.
However the people of Heretaunga had not forgotten the past and wanted revenge. They demanded that Hinerakau make Te Mata prove his devotion by accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks. His last task was to bite through the hills between the coast and the plains, so that people could come and go with greater ease.
Te Mata died while eating his way through the hills. His half-accomplished work can be seen in what is known as The Gap or Pari Karangaranga (echoing cliffs) and his prostrate body forms Te Mata Peak.
Te Mata Peak is a place that must be visited when in the Hawkes Bay Area. I’ll return for the views, and also to explore the trails.
You can view the full gallery of 16 pictures below. Be sure to check out the panoramas! To view on imgur click here. The gallery below uses the Photo Gallery plugin, and offers a nice slideshow feature. Let me know how you like it!
I had only spent a short time in Hawkes Bay about ten years ago, and I had never been to Lake Tutira. On a sunny Saturday we headed south and west for Hastings, about a 5.5 hour drive from Auckland, spending a few hours in Rotorua looking at the usual steaming geothermals and lake scenery. In the mountains further to the southwest it began to rain hard, and continued through the early evening, clearing by the next morning. The weather was good for the next ten days.
A couple of days after arriving, on the last day of October, I needed to take advantage of an expiring AA fuel discount, so it was prime time for an outing that would empty my tank. We headed north from Hastings toward Napier.
We enjoyed the views of Hawkes Bay, but kept driving. We stopped on the way back for the pictures above and below.
The highway turns away from the coast, and climbs into the mountains. Lake Tutira looked like a nice place to stop.
Near the carpark atop a small hill is a small shelter in a Maori style.
On the other side of the road in is the smaller Lake Waikopiro.
Can you identify this bird? I’m going with: Grey Heron.
The many ducks in Lake Tutira gave every impression of expecting food.
The black swan population didn’t seem to fear us, but they didn’t come as close as the ducks.
Various tracks offer walks into the surrounding hills and mountains.
But we stuck to easier tracks, with nice views of the high ground.
On the west side of the lake, past the campgrounds, we saw a flock of wild turkeys, and heard them gobble excitedly when a ‘Kahu’, or New Zealand hawk flew overhead. We also frightened some large wild hares.
After a rest on the pa, we went back the way we had come.
Lake Tutira and the surrounding area are beautiful. I’ll visit again when I’m next in Hawkes Bay, and walk the whole 5 hour Tutira Walkway. Signs around the lake suggest that there are more tracks than are mentioned on this DOC page.
You can view the full gallery of 19 pictures here. To view on imgur, click here.
Hamlins Hill Mutukaroa Regional Park is an island of green in the middle of the urban and industrial sprawl of central Auckland. The views are fantastic all the same, and the green pastures and bush are a great escape from the city. Don’t be discouraged by the scenery where you park, it gets better.
Once I gained some altitude and got a look around it started to become clear what Hamlins Hill Mutukaroa has to offer.
It was looking like nearly all pasture, so when I saw a path through the bush I took it.
This path ascends through the bush but emerges near the top of the highest hill in the park offering views in all directions.
I think I was heading for the exit when I passed this little picnic area. Another bush walk starts here, so I did that instead.
It’s a nice break from the sun, with a little stream and a few clearings along the way.
One branch of the path emerges into a sidewalk running alongside of Highway 10. Behind that is Highway 1, which runs from the northern tip of the North Island to the southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand.
I left the bush to explore other pastures, with dry stone walls and more city views.
The residents of this park are the friendliest cows I’ve met.
There are a lot of hills in Auckland, and therefore a lot of places to enjoy views of the city, but Hamlins Hill Mutukaroa holds its own, and is worth a visit for other reasons as well.
You can view the full gallery of 20 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
At the east end of St Heliers Beach are the remnants of some structure that appear to have been stairs up to the rock shelf. Climbing up was just a bit tricky, with some holes that probably once held posts offering footholds to supplement what nature provided.
The high rock shelf, along with the cliffs and the view of Rangitoto Island, looks like everything I love about walking the foreshore. In the distance you can see the walkway down to Ladies Bay Beach.
This is the most dangerous part of the walk. I started about 3 hours before low tide. Closer to low tide maybe that I could have walked along the shore below these rocks, but I had some distance to cover and a window of maybe 6 hours, so I pressed on.
Before I continue, a warning about walking the foreshore:
Do you know the sound of thunder, Dear Reader?
Can you imagine that sound if I ask you to?
I have warned more than one companion that the conditions on the foreshore can be extremely slippery (and dangerous in other ways as well) moments before they hit the ground, hard.
But I didn’t say it in thunder.
Dear Reader, listen to the thunder.
Be very careful when walking the foreshore!
Note that this most treacherous part of this walk is easily avoided by walking up Cliff Road from St Heliers, and then down the paved path to Ladies Bay.
It seems clear that there was once a series of bridges allowing visitors to walk from St Heliers Beach to Ladies Bay Beach along the shore, probably even at high tide. Each broken bridge now marks the site of some especially challenging terrain to cross.
There is challenging terrain not marked by the remains of bridges as well. It’s a short walk from St Heliers Beach to Ladies Bay Beach, but the going is slow.
It didn’t yet know what lay around the corner, but at this point my way forward was clear.
It is an un-researched theory of mine that that the foreshore walkway was has not been maintained to make it harder for the uninformed to accidentally wonder from St Heliers Beach onto Ladies Bay Beach. Auckland Council makes it clear that there are no clothing optional beaches in Auckland, but Ladies Bay Beach is known as one all the same.
As you can see below, there was no nudity on Ladies Bay Beach on the day I visited. But that may be because police activity near the beach has pushed that demographic around the point to the much longer beach at Gentlemens Bay.
A simple Google search offers lots of interesting reading on the reputation of Ladies Bay Beach, and on nude beaches in Auckland.
Just around Achilles Point, the long beach at Gentlemens Bay offers a feeling of seclusion, at least for a short while.
A little further along I chose a fallen tree at the back of the beach and sat down to have lunch. It was near a ladder that apparently provides access to the beach. I’d guess it leads up to Glover Park.
I didn’t realize at the time that I had stopped just before a very nude, very gay stretch of Gentlemens Bay Beach. As I got out my sandwich and apple (actual lunch items, not slang terms for something else), I had a conversation that I could have done without. During my lunch nude men strolled past. A few clothed men ascended and descended the ladder.
I walked the rest of Gentlemens Bay out at the edge of the tide, with the shellfish, to avoid similar encounters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Around the next point is Karaka Bay.
Although the public is allowed access to the foreshore throughout New Zealand, some parts of the coast are just difficult enough to reach that they seem to be sort of semi-private beaches for the use of residents of the houses along the shore. A small group of houses line the shore of Karaka Bay here, and their rowboats wait inverted at the back of the beach.
The foreshore always has interesting rock formations.
This part of the coast is close to Browns Island, and also to the ferries coming and going from Half Moon Bay.
By this point there is mud on top of the rock shelf even near to the shore.
The green grass of Roberta Reserve offers a nice break from an especially muddy part of the coast.
Across a stream lined with mangroves lies the Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve, and I was back on the beach.
Here’s a nice view of Browns Island over the low-tide mudflats from Sandspit Beach.
The Spit extends most of the way across Half Moon Bay, and it looks like you could walk most of it at low tide. Check it out on Google Earth.
But it got really windy at this point, as I suspect it often does, so I just rounded the point and headed south.
It soon got muddy again, so I took the path through Tahuna Torea and crossed the road to Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve.
I struck out along the coast, but I only got a short distance before I was forced to turn inland.
It was a very inviting ascent, and I discovered a path half-way up the hill, before the back yards of the houses visible above.
I’m not sure how open fields make a nature reserve, but that’s what most of Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve seems to be. This made it easy to see the path following the coast ahead.
Mount Maunganui rises in the distance over the pastures of this reserve, and of Point England.
Point England is also mostly open pastures. A couple I spoke with said that these fields were a habitat for the endangered New Zealand dotterel.
Point England has beaches also, so I was able to get back to the foreshore.
On the beaches of Point England I had my unexpected wildlife encounter of the walk – a group of royal spoonbill. These are more common on the south island.
During breeding season these birds get really interesting haircuts to impress the ladies.
I got too close, and they flew away.
I could see on Google Maps that a strip of grass extends south of Point England along the coast, so I decided to keep walking. It starts as a narrow strip of grass between the coast and backyard fences, then gets wider, with a path and some picnic tables. I came to a boat ramp, so I went back down to walk just a bit more of the muddy foreshore. This area is called Tamaki, and the water is still part of Tamaki Strait.
I reached Mount Wellington War Memorial Reserve, and decided to call it a wrap. I consulted Google Maps again, and caught a bus back to the ferry building.
There are hazards of a diverse and sometimes homoerotic nature on this part of Auckland’s coast, and lots of mud, but this is a good walk all the same.
You can view the full gallery of 51 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.