Tiritiri Matangi, Dawn Chorus to Night Owls: Day 2 of 3

Dawn on Tiritiri Matangi

Tiritiri Matangi Island awakens to the sound of the dawn chorus.  If you click play (twice) below, you can scroll down and enjoy the rest of this post to the sounds of Tiritiri Matangi’s songs of the morning.

The dawn chorus is at it’s most subdued in the summer, but it was still beautiful to listen in the calm of the morning, well before the arrival of the first ferry.  The birds awaken and join the chorus at different times, starting with the the North Island robins, followed by the tūī with their wide range of different sounds and songs.  Next may be the bellbirds, each with their own unique 3 or 4 note call.  Kōkako join in with a beautiful, clear, organ-like song.  Whiteheads, fantail, kingfisher, stitchbirds and more contribute.

The video below lets you see which bird is singing which song.

Morning

I slept after the dawn chorus, then made a slow start to the day.  My first day on Tiritiri Matangi was a long one (see my previous post).  I took my time getting a hot shower and making lunch.  Guests sign up for tasks on a roster to help keep the place up, so in the morning I took care of the recycling job I had signed up for.

Tiritiri Mtangi Island bunkhouse, Rangitoto, Auckland CBD and Sky Tower
Tiritiri Mtangi Island bunkhouse, Rangitoto, Auckland CBD and Sky Tower

On my way out for the day I stopped at the Tiritiri Matangi Visitors Centre and enjoyed the complimentary tea and a desert.  There are maps, displays and other information, and lots of space to sit and enjoy a cold or hot beverage.  Visitor center and gift shop are both worth a look.

The day cleared up beautifully.

Tiritiri Mtangi Lighthouse
Tiritiri Mtangi Lighthouse
Afternoon Walk

A researcher recommended the North East Bay Track for kōkako so I set out in that direction, in spite of having gone to the other side of the island the day before.  The sun was brighter, the skies and the water bluer.

Chinaman Bay? - Tiritiri Matangi
Chinaman Bay?

I walked quite a ways north, and the views were even better than the day before, but it was hot, and I decided that the birds too would probably prefer the shade.  I headed west across the island to the Kawerau Track.

Brown quail spend a lot of time near the roads and tracks of Tiritiri Matangi.  They’ll run away along the trail before they finally turn into the bush.

Brown quail - Tiritiri Matangi
Brown quail

Sugar water is provided along the Karerau Track inside of wooden cages.  These of course attract birds like the female bellbird below.  Most birds are referred to by their Maori name as well as any English name they may have; the bellbird is called korimako.

New Zealand bellbird (korimako), female - Tiritiri Matangi
New Zealand bellbird (korimako), female

Stitchbirds (hihi) are apparently pretty rare, and it’s amazing that you see so many on Tiritiri Matangi.

Stitchbird (hihi) - Tiritiri Matangi
Stitchbird (hihi)

The bush on Karerau Track is awesome.

Kawerau Track - Tiritiri Matangi
Kawerau Track

The pohutukawa below is estimated between 800 and 1000 years old.

Kawerau Track pohutukawa - Tiritiri Matangi
Kawerau Track pohutukawa

The branches collapsed under their own weight, but continued growing.  In places they formed new root systems.

Kawerau Track pohutukawa - Tiritiri Matangi
Kawerau Track pohutukawa

I’ve seen pohutukawa that are very straight, and I’ve seen them really spread out.

Kawerau Track pohutukawa - Tiritiri Matangi
Kawerau Track pohutukawa

The Kawerau Track is shady and cool.  Much of it has boardwalk, and there are benches in good spots for a rest.  Throughout my walk the bush would come alive with birds of various kinds, they’d stay a while then move on.

Another huge, half-collapsed pohutukawa overlooks Hobbs Beach.

Hobbs Beach pohutukawa - Tiritiri Matangi
Hobbs Beach pohutukawa

I see variable oystercatchers pretty much everywhere I go along the coast, but it was nice to see this pair teaching their chicks to forage.

Oystercatcher pair with chicks - Tiritiri Matangi
Oystercatcher pair with chicks

There are several nest boxes for the little blue penguins (kororā in Maori) that live on on Tiritiri Matangi Island.  The lids can be lifted off to look at any penguins that might be inside.

Little blue penguin nest boxes - Tiritiri Matangi
Little blue penguin nest boxes

One penguin was molting, and was inside the box every time I looked.  Unfortunately the dirty plexiglass makes it hard to get a good picture.

Little blue penguin (kororā) - Tiritiri Matangi
Little blue penguin (kororā)

Little blue penguins are out at sea fishing during the day, except for when they’re molting.  They lose a lot of weight while they molt, and they don’t look very happy.

I like this picture I took last summer of a molting kororā on the Otago Peninsula.

Little blue penguin on the Otago Peninsula
Little blue penguin on the Otago Peninsula

The last part of the Wattle Track offers a great view of Tiritiri Matangi Lighthouse and bunkhouse in the light of the evening.  I had dinner and enjoyed the company of the other bunkhouse residents while I waited for dark.

Lighthouse and ranger station - Tiritiri Matangi
Lighthouse and ranger station
Tiritiri at Night

I walked the Wattle Track back to the wharf without event.  At the beach near the wharf I found a message in a bottle.  I put it in a jacket pocket, to open on the morrow.

Several time before, as I walked past a certain bush next to an entrance to Hobbs Beach, I heard something suddenly start and then go silent.  It happened again, so I went closer to look around inside the bush as best I could.  I must have startled it again; a young tuatara came into a spot where it was nicely visible, and then froze.  It stayed there long enough that I decided to try a picture.  I was quite surprised to be able to get it looking this good.  I’ll have to look further into shooting in dark conditions.

Tuatara - Tiritiri matangi
Tuatara

Tuatara are reptiles endemic to New Zealand. Although resembling most lizards, they are part of a distinct lineage, the order Rhynchocephalia.[2] Their name derives from the Māori language, and means “peaks on the back”.[3] The single species of tuatara is the only surviving member of its order, which flourished around 200 million years ago.[4] Their most recent common ancestor with any other extant group is with the squamates (lizards and snakes).[5] For this reason, tuatara are of great interest in the study of the evolution of lizards and snakes, and for the reconstruction of the appearance and habits of the earliest diapsids, a group of amniotetetrapods that also includes dinosaurs, birds, and crocodilians.
Wikipedia

The male tuatara pictured below is named Henry.  He lives at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, and is still reproductively active at 111 years of age.

A male tuatara named Henry, living at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, is still reproductively active at 111 years of age - from Wikimedia Commons
A male tuatara named Henry, living at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, is still reproductively active at 111 years of age – from Wikimedia Commons

As I walked back along the Wattle Track something was startled into motion in the bush beside me. It ran along in the bush beside the path, something I haven’t known kiwi to do.  When it was ahead of me it crossed the path, and I saw that it was a little blue penguin, for some reason walking around in the bush at about 11:30pm.

A bit further along I heard something that I hadn’t heard before, but that I knew must be a pair of the only owls in New Zealand, the morepork (ruru).  They had a beautiful duet that went on until after I finally stopped listening.  I found one of them low on a tree near the path.  He let me listen from front row seats for a along time before he moved to a tree a bit further into the bush, and went right on singing.  My attempt at taking a picture was unsuccessful, so I’ve relied once again on Wikimedia Commons.

Morepork (ruru) - from Wikimedia Commons
Morepork (ruru) – from Wikimedia Commons

I was hoping to see another kiwi, but I couldn’t complain; it was a pretty great day.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 16 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Tiritiri Matangi Island, Paradise in Auckland: Day 1 of 3

Tiritiri Matangi Island may be the very best that Auckland has to offer.  It’s the best place in New Zealand to experience rare and endangered wildlife.  It also offers stunning old-growth and regenerating bush, pristine beaches with clear turquoise waters, and world-class coastal views.

Hobbs Beach, Tiritiri Matangi Island
Hobbs Beach, Tiritiri Matangi Island

Milesteppin.com has been around now for 2 years!  I’m happy to be celebrating by posting about a place as special as Tiritiri Matangi.  I’m going to post separately about each of my 3 days on the island.

Getting to Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island can be visited as a day trip.  There’s one ferry out each day, Wednesday through Sunday, and one ferry back.  This gives you about 5 hours on the island.  To better experience the island I booked 2 nights in the Tiritiri Matangi Island bunkhouse.  I was able to do this around 2 weeks in advance in peak season.

Tiri Kat - Tiritiri Matangi
Tiri Kat

I studied carefully all of the information provided on the Department of Conservation website for booking and packing for Tiritiri Matangi, including the biosecurity requirements.  As an open wildlife sanctuary, invasive species have been removed from the island, and efforts are ongoing to keep it pest-free.  I put some time into cleaning my hiking boots, which were the muddiest they had ever been after completing Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2.  All equipment must be clean, all food containers must be mouse and ant-proof, and bags must be closed so as to prevent any small creatures from stowing away.

Devonport from the ferry - Tiritiri Matangi Island
Devonport from the ferry

The ferry ride itself is very scenic.  It takes about 50 minutes to travel from Auckland to Gulf Harbor, and about 20 more to Tiritiri Matangi Island.  I wasn’t ready at this early stage to see any of the creatures I was hoping to encounter, and missed a great chance to take pictures of a pair of little blue penguins swimming out for a day of fishing.  I’ve linked to a great picture by Philip Griffin instead, below.

Little penguin. White-flippered adult swimming. Akaroa Harbour, December 2012. Image © Philip Griffin by Philip Griffin Philip Griffin © 2012
Little penguin. White-flippered adult swimming. Akaroa Harbour, December 2012. Image © Philip Griffin by Philip Griffin Philip Griffin © 2012

I had conversations with several friendly and enthusiastic volunteers before arriving at Gulf Harbor as well, and began to take in helpful information.

Arrival and Guided Walk

I could have packed more for my visit to Tiritiri Matangi, because the ranger greets the ferry and hauls everyone’s luggage to the bunkhouse.  A wheeled suitcase would have actually worked better than my backpack.

Tiritiri Wharf - Tiritiri Matangi Island
Tiritiri Wharf

Several visitors took the opportunity to photograph a map of the island posted at the shelter near the wharf.

Tiritiri Matangi Island
Tiritiri Matangi Island

There is a short orientation to the island, followed by a guided walk that I booked when I booked the ferry.  I chose the longest of 3 options available.  We started along Hobbs Beach Track.  This side of the island looks west across the Hauraki Gulf toward Shakespear Regional Park and Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

Shakespear Regional Park/Whangaparaoa Peninsula over the Hauraki Gulf from Tiritiri Matangi ISland
Shakespear Regional Park/Whangaparaoa Peninsula over the Hauraki Gulf

Private boats anchor off of Tiritiri Matangi Island.  Some people come ashore to enjoy Hobbs Beach.

Hobbs Beach, Tiritiri Matangi Island
Hobbs Beach, Tiritiri Matangi Island

After Hobbs Beach our guide continued onto Kawerau Track.  Kawerau Track leads through some of the densest and oldest forest on the island.  She gave us lots of information about the birds we saw, and some that we didn’t, and also about the trees and plants, and about the island itself.

Kawaerau Track - Tiritiri Matangi Island
Kawaerau Track

We met a takahē along Ridge Road.  This is probably the rarest creature on the island, and one of the rarest animals in the world.  There are about 300 takahē, between 70 and 80 of which live in the wild.   Our guide was able to identify this bird by the bands on its legs, but unfortunately I don’t recall its name.

Takahē - Tiritiri Matangi Island
Takahē

Our guide reminded us of an unfortunate incident in 2015 in which the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association was hired by the Department of Conservation to carry out a cull of pukeko, a non-endangered, very common relative of the takahē, on Motutapu Island, and during the cull they killed four takahē – 5% of the wild population.

I got a much better picture of a pair of takahē at  Orokonui Ecosanctuary north of Dunedin.

Takahe at Orokonui Ecosanctuary
Takahē at Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Although there aren’t many takahē on Tiritiri Matangi, it isn’t too unusual to see them because they’re not especially afraid of people.

A takahē named Greg used to greet the visitors on the ferry when it arrived in the morning, then run up to the visitors center and mingle with the people there.  Greg was nearly 20 when he died in 2012.  He fathered lots of babies, and many of them still live on Tiritiri Matangi.  Enjoy the video of Greg the Takahē  below – but don’t feed wild animals, or try to attract them with food, like the visitor in the video!

I knew the guided walk was over when I spotted the lighthouse and bunkhouse.  I guess the land in the distance must be the Coromandel Peninsula.

Lighthouse and bunkhouse from the road - Tiritiri Matangi Island
Lighthouse and bunkhouse from the road
Island Circuit

I went to the bunkhouse for an orientation on staying there.  About half of the residents were researchers or volunteers.  I got the scoop on the bunkhouse, and lots more info on the island and its flora and fauna.  I found a place to put my stuff, and had lunch.

Walking has become a habit.  When I have a day free, I think about where I’ll walk.  This habit has kept me active and exploring New Zealand.  When I finished lunch I had about 5 hours until sunset, and I knew that it takes about 4 hours to walk all the way around the island, so that’s what I did.

I passed by the lighthouse and visitors center and followed the East Coast Track.  The first little bay I saw demanded I take pictures.  I think this may be Chinaman Bay.

Chinaman Bay? - Tiritiri Matangi Island
Chinaman Bay?

After the ferry leaves at 3:30pm, the only people on the island are residents of the bunkhouse and a few DOC staff.  If you go anywhere other than the bunkhouse or Hobbs Beach, it’s like having the island to yourself.

Tui dining on pohutukawa - Tiritiri Matangi
Tui dining on pohutukawa

Tui are common in New Zealand, but they’re much loved for their song and their personality.  At first tui look like a black bird with a small tuft of white feathers at its neck, but a closer look reveals that the tui, although not bright, is very colorful.

Tui - From Wikimedia Commons
Tui – From Wikimedia Commons

There is some bush on the East Coast Track.

East Coast Track - Tiritiri Matangi
East Coast Track

And lots of beautiful coastline.

Fishermans Bay - Tiritiri Matangi
Fishermans Bay

Fishermans Bay is an especially scenic one.  A few boats anchored there, but I didn’t see anyone come ashore.

Fishermans Bay - Tiritiri Matangi
Fishermans Bay

I didn’t visit the foreshore anywhere along Tiritiri Matangi’s east coast, although Pohutukawa Cove, too, was tempting.

Pohutukawa Cove - Tiritiri Matangi
Pohutukawa Cove

Bright colors are not common among New Zealand birds, so I was immediately interested in the kākāriki, or red-crowned parakeet.  I was happy to encounter large numbers of these birds along the North East Bay track, on the northeastern coast of Tiritiri Matangi.

Kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet) - Tiritiri Matangi
Kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet)

It was easy to identify what they like to eat.  I found them less shy than I expected, although I didn’t get very close.

Kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet) - Tiritiri Matangi
Kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet)

Saddlebacks, or tieke, are common on Tiritiri Matangi, and they’re not exactly shy, but it quickly became clear that it would be a challenge to get a good picture.  They made a habit of shouting at me from partial concealment, and never standing still for long.

Saddleback, or tieke - Tiritiri Matangi
Saddleback, or tieke

I improved with practice, and on the 2nd and especially the 3rd day I got much better pictures of the wildlife.

The New Zealand pigeon or kererū is a common bird, and always a welcome sight.

The New Zealand pigeon or kererū - Tiritiri Matangi
The New Zealand pigeon or kererū

I walked to Papakura Pa near the northern tip of the island, and to Tiritiri Matangi Pa on my way south.  As with many pa, I couldn’t get a good look at the lay of the land, or understand their defensive advantages as a site for a fortified village.  I do recognize however that those villages both had outstanding views.

That great evening light made everything look better as I walked back to the bunkhouse.  Tiritiri Matangi feels like a different world than central Auckland, but if you look south, Rangitoto Island and the CDB and Sky Tower are there to remind you that they’re just a little over an hour away.

Rangitoto Island and Auckland CBD from Tiritiri Matangi Island
Rangitoto Island and Auckland CBD from Tiritiri Matangi Island

I returned to the bunkhouse for dinner and a rest, but my day wasn’t over.

Rangitoto Island and Auckland CBD and the Tiritiri Matangi Island bunkhouse
Rangitoto Island and Auckland CBD and the Tiritiri Matangi Island bunkhouse
Night Walk

Red light is less disruptive for the nocturnal animals, so red cellophane was made available at the bunkhouse, and rubber bands to hold it in place.

I was less than 20 minutes along the Wattle Track when I came suddenly face to face with a little spotted kiwi.  We both froze.  My light was brighter than what I had used to meet the North Island brown kiwi at Trounson Kauri Park on Kauri Coast.  Its eyes glowed as it stared back at me.  I made a noise, and it turned and ran away.  I had brought my camera, but I didn’t try to take a picture.

Little spotted kiwi - from Wikimedia Commons
Little spotted kiwi – from Wikimedia Commons

Little spotted kiwi are the smallest species of kiwi.  They were brought to Tiritiri Matangi, and aren’t believed to have lived there before.  They’re breeding well on the island, and the population is increasing.

I walked to Hobbs Beach. enjoying the scenery in the light of the moon and the sounds of the night creatures.  The I walked back to the bunkhouse, had a shower, and got into my bunk as quietly as possible.

You can view the full gallery of 27 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

West coast beaches on New Years Eve

On New Years Eve I had the opportunity to act as a tour guide.  I usually try to go someplace I’ve never seen, but as tour guide I opted for the safe and familiar and sure to please – a pair of Auckland’s famous west coast beaches.

Any good tour guide will treat the uninitiated to a view from above Piha Beach on the way in.  Search “Piha” to see several posts about this great icon among Auckland’s west coast beaches.

Piha Beach - west coast beaches
Piha Beach

It has become normal for summer to start late in New Zealand, especially perhaps in Auckland.  December didn’t offer any consistent summer weather, but there were some hot sunny days, and we even managed to string a few together toward the end of the month.  The last day of 2016 was one of the beautiful ones.

We went directly, if leisurely, to Lion Rock for a walk to the top and another overview of Piha Beach.

Lion Rock
Lion Rock

Aucklanders abandon the city between the middle of December and the middle of January as much of the country goes on holiday.  Last year was my first Christmas in Auckland, but I joined the exodus just after Christmas.  2107 would be my first New Year in Auckland.

Piha Beach south of Lion Rock
Piha Beach south of Lion Rock

Depending on where you are, the changes can be subtle. The crowd doesn’t look like much in the pictures above and below.  And I’m sure these beaches get much more crowded.  But it was very easily the most people I’ve ever seen at Piha Beach, or any of the west coast beaches.

At the top of Lion Rock I snapped my 40,000th picture with the digital camera I’m currently using.

Piha Beach north of Lion Rock - west coast beaches
Piha Beach north of Lion Rock

There’s much more to do at Piha, but it was a hot day and I had a shady spot in mind for lunch.  We walked along the beach to return to my car, and set out for the second of the day’s west coast beaches.

The carpark at Karekare Beach suggested even bigger crowds than at Piha.  Search “Karekare” for my posts about another of Auckland’s great west coast beaches.

Karekare Stream - west coast beaches
Karekare Stream

We didn’t head immediately toward the beach, but inland, across the bridge on Lone Kauri Road, to Karekare Falls.

Karekare Falls - west coast beaches
Karekare Falls

This picture from 2015 shows what I had in mind.  The picnic table wasn’t there on New Year’s Eve, so we made do with the low branches.

Karekare Falls picnic area in 2015 - west coast beaches
Karekare Falls picnic area in 2015
Karekare Falls picnic area in 2016 - west coast beaaches
Karekare Falls picnic area in 2016

After we arrived the area quickly filled with people.  Some took the opportunity to go for a swim.  The pool offers a calm alternative to the hazards of the Tasman Sea found at Auckland’s west coast beaches.

Karekare Falls- west coast beaches
Karekare Falls

After lunch we took the Pohutukawa Glade Walk to Karekare Beach.

Pohutukawa Glade Walk - west coast beaches
Pohutukawa Glade Walk

A walk in the waves in bare feet was highly refreshing.  But the black sand, where it wasn’t wet, was extremely hot.

Karekare Beach - west coast beaches
Karekare Beach

Walking in Karekare Stream back to the carpark was an outstanding solution to the hot sand problem.

Karekare Stream, Karekare Beach - west coast beaches
Karekare Stream, Karekare Beach

I concluded the tour with a visit to the Arataki Visitor Centre.  See my post on the visitor center for many more of the fantastic views of Auckland available there.

Auckland CBD and Sky Tower from the Waitakere Ranges Visitor Centre
Auckland CBD and Sky Tower, and Rangitoto Island,  from the Arataki Visitor Centre

For anyone who hasn’t seen Auckland’s west coast beaches, a tour like this can’t miss.  Home-cooked Mexican food with kiwi beer followed by brief and uninspired fireworks from the Sky Tower, viewed from a crowded to capacity Sulphur Beach, brought us to the end of 2016.

You can view the full gallery of 13 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2 – Island Bay to Tui Park

Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2 was meant to be very roughly the walk referred to as Coastal Walk 2 in the 2015 edition of the Kaipatiki Explorer, but in reverse.  I only made it to Tui Park though, leaving an exciting Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 3 on my list for the future.

Coastal Walk 2 from the 2015 edition of the Kaipatiki Explorer - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Coastal Walk 2 from the 2015 edition of the Kaipatiki Explorer

In the Kaipatiki Coastal Walk post I mentioned that I had been unable to find a public way from Chelsea Estate Heritage Park into Kauri Point Centennial Park, and so I continued via Chatswood Reserve and Kauri Park before ending my walk.

Beach from Island Bay Wharf - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Beach from Island Bay Wharf

In doing so I skipped walking the coast from Kauri Point Centennial Park to Island Bay.  The New Zealand Defense Force inhabits some land north of Kauri Point Centennial Park, so it may not be possible to stay on the foreshore the whole way, but I’ll explore this bit of the coast in the future.

View of the beach at Hadfield Street Reserve from Island Bay Reserve - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
View of the beach at Hadfield Street Reserve from Island Bay Reserve

I started Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2 at Island Bay.  The short distance between Island Bay Reserve and Hadfield Street Reserve was muddy and awkward enough along the shore that I’d suggest walking Island Bay Road to Hadfield Street Reserve instead.  Look for the sign.

Mangroves and mud between Island Bay Reserve and Hadfield Street Reserve - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Mangroves and mud between Island Bay Reserve and Hadfield Street Reserve

Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2 was begun over 3 hours before low tide, intending to stick to the foreshore as long as possible.  Starting at Hadfield Street Reserve the going was good for a while, with some mud atop the rock shelf, but not deep.

Foreshore at Hadfield Street Reserve - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Foreshore at Hadfield Street Reserve

Hadfield Street Reserve has a second beach, nicer than the first.

Beach at Hadfield Street Reserve - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Beach at Hadfield Street Reserve
Beach at Hadfield Street Reserve - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Beach at Hadfield Street Reserve

I enjoyed the trees and cliffs on Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2 as on all of my favorite coastal walks.

Kaipatiki coast
Kaipatiki coast

Several medium to large bays, like the one below, tempted me to walk straight across, but what looked like a semi-stable surface proved to be deep mud.  It was necessary to walk around, sticking fairly close to the cliffs.

Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Kaipatiki coast

The harbor gets more narrow as you proceed north on Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2.  I watched just a few people enjoy the beach across the harbor in Hobsonville.

Coast of Hobsonville - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Coast of Hobsonville

A couple of shags (cormorants) were disturbed by my passage along a narrow bit of coastline.  I’d estimate that this was somewhere in the area of Alan Tanner Reserve.

Shags on Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Shags on Kaipatiki coast

I didn’t think I could walk around the back of the bay below due to extensive mangrove growth and boat ramps, so I set off to cross it and ended up sinking into the mud well over my ankles.  I had a closer look at the back of the bay and found that I was able to walk around after all.

Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Kaipatiki coast

The last bay/inlet before Larking’s Landing, Hilders Park, and Beach Haven ferry terminal, proved impassible.

Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Kaipatiki coast

I knew of a walkway up to Aeroview Drive, but for some reason thought that I would have to retrace my steps quite a ways to get to it.  Fortunately I met an Englishman who was looking for places to launch his inflatable kayak.  He told me that I was already there, and showed me the start of the walkway, hiding under the limbs of the mangroves.  There’s a small lookout on the way up with a good view of the Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry terminals.

Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry terminals - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry terminals

It’s a long walk on the road to Beach Haven Wharf.  They’re nice enough neighborhoods, but the experience was sufficient reminder of how nice it was to be able to walk as far as I had on the foreshore, rather than the roads.

Larking’s Landing, at the south edge of Hilders Park, looks right back across the bay that had forced me from the shore.

Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Kaipatiki coast

Hilders Park looks across the harbor at the coast of Hobsonville.

Hobsonville coastline from Hilders Park - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Hobsonville coastline from Hilders Park

And northwest toward the Upper Harbor Motorway Bridge.

Hobsonville Point and the Upper Harbor Motorway Bridge from Hilders Park - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Hobsonville Point and the Upper Harbor Motorway Bridge from Hilders Park

Hilders Park is a nice little reserve with a nice enough beach, and lots of places for a BBQ.  There I talked with 4 little girls whose mom had brought them to Auckland for a day outdoors, perhaps because the city gets so quiet in late December.

Beach at Hilders Park - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Beach at Hilders Park

The Englishman had also recommended Tui Park, so I decided to make it part of my Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2 route.  From Beach Haven Wharf I walked up Beach Haven Road and made the first left.  Much of Tui Park is playground and open grass.  I took the first track to enter the bush.

Tui Park - Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Tui Park

An impressive old tree stands at the top of a trail leading down to the shore.

Tui Park - kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2
Tui Park

It was a beautiful quiet day at the end of December in Auckland, and the few people out were in an unhurried and friendly mood.  A conversation with another Englishman about the tree above evolved onto other topics as he waited for the tide to come in for another outing on his paddle-board.

Beach at Tui Park
Beach at Tui Park

This part of the Kaipatiki Coast is a great walk at low tide.  I could have gotten my boots much less muddy by making wiser choices on where to walk, but there’s no denying that mud and mangroves are identifying characteristics of Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2.  So are beaches and epic cliffs and trees, and endless harbor views.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 39 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

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Island Bay and surrounding reserves

I had a few hours the day after Christmas and decided to check out Island Bay Reserve and some surrounding reserves.

Island Bay Reserve carpark
Island Bay Reserve carpark

Things had gotten quieter as the end of December approached, but there were a good number of people at Island Bay Reserve enjoying a BBQ on Boxing Day.

Looking over Island Bay at Hadfield Street Reserve
Looking over Island Bay at Hadfield Street Reserve

The picnic area looks over Island Bay to the beach at Hadfield Street Reserve, accessible via Island Bay Road.

Island Bay and the beach at Hadfield Street Reserve
Island Bay and the beach at Hadfield Street Reserve

Island Bay Wharf was getting some use for fishing and launching small boats.

Island Bay Reserve from the wharf
Island Bay Reserve from the wharf

I’d guess that the beach next to the wharf is part of Fred Anderson Reserve.

Beach at Island Bay and Fred Anderson Reserve
Beach at Island Bay and Fred Anderson Reserve

The tide was coming in at Island Bay

Island Bay Wharf
Island Bay Wharf

Unable to follow the foreshore, I walked up the stairs to see if I could follow Fred Anderson Reserve to Soldiers Bay Reserve.  I found Valhalla Drive right at the top, and a narrow strip of grass separated by a fence from a series of back yards.  The fence stops a short way further, leaving me with a growing feeling that I was in someone’s back yards.  The map showed this as reserve, but soon enough I found that I could continue no further.

Fred Anderson Reserve
Fred Anderson Reserve

The coast there had maybe the reddest pohutukawa I’ve seen.

Pohutukawa
Pohutukawa

The tide came in while I explored.  I decided to go back up to the street and walk around rather than wade.

Incoming tide, Island Bay
Incoming tide

The skies cleared up briefly and showed me Island Bay in another light.

Island Bay Reserve playground
Island Bay Reserve playground

More people had arrived to enjoy the best weather of the day.

Island Bay
Island Bay

And to launch more boats.

Island Bay Warf
Island Bay Wharf

I checked out an entrance to a different part of Fred Anderson Reserve off of Valkyria Place.

Valkyria Place entrance to Fred Anderson Reserve
Valkyria Place entrance to Fred Anderson Reserve

It leads to a small pump station I had visited from Soldiers Bay via Kauri Park.  The tide was high enough that I could go no further.

Soldiers Bay
Soldiers Bay

I found a way into Hadfield Street Reserve, but I didn’t see a way into Odin Place Reserve.  I saved both for another day.

I saw a walkway to Soldiers Bay further up Island Bay Road and decided to explore.

Island Bay Road access to Soldiers Bay
Island Bay Road access to Soldiers Bay

The path gets steep.

Island Bay Road access to Soldiers Bay
Island Bay Road access to Soldiers Bay

Soldiers Bay looks different at high tide.

Soldiers Bay
Soldiers Bay
Soldiers Bay
Soldiers Bay

I walked around a bit and had a closer look at the bridge over the stream.

Bridge at Soldiers Bay
Bridge at Soldiers Bay

Please enjoy the full gallery of 26 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

Back to Onepoto Domain for the Bush Loop

We needed a short walk on Christmas day*, as you do, so I decided to return to Onepoto Domain for the Bush Loop.  I took the shorter route through the Domain on the Kaipatiki Coastal Walk from Tuffs Crater Reserve to Tui Park.  This time we entered via the main entrance off of Sylvan Avenue.

Onepoto Domain, entered via Sylvan Avenue
Onepoto Domain, entered via Sylvan Avenue

* I’ve been busy, and I’m currently posting almost 2 months behind.  I’m gonna try to pick up the pace.

From the first carpark off of Sylvan Avenue the first features of Onepoto Domain are the duck ponds.  Kaipatiki Explorer tells me that there are eels in these ponds too.

Onepoto Domain ducks
Onepoto Domain ducks

We enjoyed watching a couple of guys racing remote controlled sailboats.  The largest pond has buoys for this.

Remote control sailboats
Remote control sailboats

There’s a pou whenua near the playgrounds.

Pou whenua, Onepoto Domain
Pou whenua

We walked the Bush Loop clockwise, starting near the playgrounds.

Bush Loop, starting clockwise, Onepoto Domain
Bush Loop, starting clockwise

A boardwalk crosses the wetlands in a crater of some sort.  I’d have to guess volcanic.

Onepoto Domain
Onepoto Domain

Apparently cutting bamboo to the ground is a way to slow its spread.  This is the first felled bamboo forest I had seen, but not the last this summer.

Cut bamboo forest, Onepoto Domain
Cut bamboo forest

There’s some proper bush on the north side of the loop.

Bush Loop, Onepoto Domain
Bush Loop

Pohutukawa were in bloom everywhere around the grassier parts of the park.

Pohutukawa, Onepoto Domain
Pohutukawa
Pohutukawa, Onepoto Domain
Pohutukawa

While we enjoyed the swings on the playground the light got good, and I got my camera out for one more picture.

Evening light, Onepoto Domain
Evening light

Onepoto Domain also has large sports fields, BBQs and picnic tables, and a cycling track.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 11 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Kauri Glen is another small Kaipatiki reserve worth a look

After closing Fernglen Natural Plant Gardens at 4:00pm I went to Kauri Glen Park.  I started at the Kauri Glen Road entrance.  See the map for this park in the Kaipatiki Explorer.

Kauri Glen Road entrance to Kauri Glen Park
Kauri Glen Road entrance to Kauri Glen Park

The bush here is as dense and lush as I’ve come to expect of the Kaipatiki region.

Kauri Glen Park
Kauri Glen Park

Kauri Glen stood out in terms of the large number of epiphytes.

Epiphytes nearly concealing their host tree
Epiphytes nearly concealing their host tree

In the picture below epiphytes cover the trunk of a fern tree.  The root of another hangs in the foreground.

Epiphytes covering the trunk of a fern tree at Kauri Glen
Epiphytes covering the trunk of a fern tree

I walked the loop in Kauri Glen.  There is a path that leads directly into Cecil Eady Bush, but I saved that for another day.

Kauri Glen
Kauri Glen

Below is a strange fungus I’d never seen before.

Strange fungus in Kauri Glen
Strange fungus in Kauri Glen

There’s a bench to enjoy the view over the valley.  This is on the main track, which leads back to Kauri Glen Road.

Kauri Glen
Kauri Glen

Please enjoy the full gallery of 10 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Fernglen Native Plant Gardens is a great collection of New Zealand native plants

Fernglen Native Plant Gardens is the only park or reserve that is listed with open hours in the Kaipatiki Explorer (9am – 4pm).  Just to the right, inside the gate, you can see a small shelter where I found lots of literature about parks and reserves etc. in the Kaipatiki region.

Fernglen Native Plant Gardens front gate
Fernglen Native Plant Gardens front gate

Just inside the gate are a series of paths that wander among native plants from many parts of New Zealand.

Fernglen Native Plant Gardens
Fernglen Native Plant Gardens

The gardens are very lush, and the plants spill onto the paths.

Fernglen Native Plant Gardens
Fernglen Native Plant Gardens

The surrounding bush is just as green and dense.  The Fern House fits perfectly into this setting.

Fern House in Fernglen
Fern House in Fernglen

The trunks of tree ferns are commonly used in fences and other structures in New Zealand.

The Fishers had a farm in this area; Muriel Fisher was an  expert on New Zealand native plants and a respected conservationist.

Fern House in Fernglen
Fern House in Fernglen

The ferns in the Fern House are apparently difficult to grow.  A very wide mesh screen is the only roof (actually fence I think), wide enough to let in the smaller birds.

Fern House in Fernglen
Fern House in Fernglen

The Fern House is every bit as verdant as the gardens.

Fern House in Fernglen
Fern House in Fernglen

And so is the bush.

Fernglen bush
Fernglen bush

From Fern Hourse steps descend past a big tanekaha and a 300 year old Kauri to the Canal Track.

Tanekaha and 300 year old Kauri in Fernglen
Tanekaha and 300 year old Kauri

Rotary Grove has 20 young kauri trees that were 2 meters tall when donated in 1998 by the Birkenhead Rotary.

Rotary Grove Fernglen
Rotary Grove

Back at the gardens, there’s some kind of crazy tree in front of the Education Center.

In front of Fernglen Education Center
In front of Fernglen Education Center

Fernglen Native Plant Gardens is a nice little reserve, and a great collection of New Zealand native plants, and has been used for education and research by Muriel Fisher and many others since the 1920s.

Fernglen Native Plant Gardens
Fernglen Native Plant Gardens

Enjoy the full gallery of 16 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.