Tag Archives: Auckland Council

The Big Smoke

I haven’t personally ever heard Auckland referred to as “The Big Smoke”.  But over the course of last summer, traveling around the South Island, I got to hear a lot of what kiwis outside of Auckland think about New Zealand‘s largest city.

Harbor Bridge and Sky Tower
Harbor Bridge and Sky Tower from Birkenhead Warf

A while back I was having drinks with a native Aucklander who was having endless fun with all of the many easily ridiculed aspects of the USA – easier than usual after the 2016 elections.  Eventually I reminded him that the term “JAFA” is used in the rest of New Zealand to mean both “Just Another F*cking American” and “Just Another F*cking Aucklander” …that for the rest of New Zealand, Aucklanders and Americans are kind of in the same category.  His response was a surprised “You get that!”

Guide books more or less advise tourists to sleep off the jet lag, buy any needed supplies, and head out of Auckland.  But Auckland is part of New Zealand, and it is highly underrated.

Central Auckland at night
Central Auckland at night from Bayswater Marina

In Defense of Auckland

I don’t really want to get into the list of negatives attributed to Auckland, or even to defend Auckland from those claims.  Fortunately, I’m able to link to a blog post that does that beautifully.  It is better in many ways than anything I could have written.  It offers a native’s perspective* on the debate, and offers insight on how taboo it is to say anything positive about Auckland, among kiwis outside of Auckland.  Consensus is enforced by browbeating on a number of topics in New Zealand, and this article offers some insight into this aspect of kiwi culture.

Most importantly, the link above tells us in detail what non-Aucklanders think of Auckland, and does a good job of setting the record straight.

I couldn’t have said it better.  But maybe I can add something to it.

* (Correction!  StoriesThatAreTrue is a travel blog written by Gemma Tarlach, an author (and much more) from the USA.)

Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach
Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach

More Than Just a City

It is important to point out that Auckland is the name for both a city with a population of 1,454,300, which constitutes 32 percent of New Zealand’s population, and one of the sixteen regions of New Zealand, with by far the biggest population and economy of any region of New Zealand, but the second-smallest land area.

I have never heard anyone mention this distinction though.  For Aucklanders, other kiwis, tourists… for everyone I’ve ever met… Auckland is Auckland.

Both city and region are governed by the Auckland Council, which began operating on 1 November 2010, combining the functions of the previous regional council and the region’s seven city and district councils into one “super council” governing a “super city”.  This is probably the most important blurring of any remaining distinctions between city and region.

Auckland is about the size of The Greater Los Angeles Area, with fewer than 2 million people.

Rangitoto Island and the Sky Tower from the Waitakere Ranges
Rangitoto Island and the Sky Tower from the Waitakere Ranges

What Else Is Auckland?

Auckland is New Zealand – a place of awesome natural beauty.

Auckland is Piha.

Lion Rock, Piha Beach, Te Waha Point in the distance
Lion Rock, Piha Beach, Te Waha Point in the distance

Auckland is also Whatipu.

Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach

Auckland is all of the other great west coast Tasman Sea beaches well.

O'Neill Beach and Bethell's Beach
O’Neill Beach and Bethell’s Beach

Auckland is Tawharanui.

Tawharanui Open Sanctuary
Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

Auckland is all of the east coast, Pacific Ocean and Hauraki Gulf beaches, like Pakiri Beach in the north.

Pakiri Beach
Pakiri Beach

Auckland is Tawhitokino Beach on the southeast coast.

Tawhitokino Beach
Tawhitokino Beach

Auckland is the forests and mountains of the Waitakere Ranges in the west.

Waitakere Dam
Waitakere Dam

Auckland is the mountains and bush of the Hunua Ranges in the east.

Cosseys Reservoir in the Hunua Ranges
Cosseys Reservoir in the Hunua Ranges

In the past 2 years I’ve taken you to almost all of Auckland’s 34 Regional Parks, and I’ve recently created a page to help you navigate my many posts about those parks.  Follow the link above for 34 beautiful things that Auckland is.

There are few things I’ve enjoyed more than the North Shore Coastal Walk, with its rock shelves and tree-lined cliffs and constant changing views of Rangitoto Island.

Browns Bay, Auckland
Browns Bay, Auckland

Rangitoto Island is not just a nice bit of scenery visible from Auckland, Rangitoto Island is Auckland!  Rangitoto is a beautiful place to visit, and returns the favor by offering fantastic views of the city.

Devonport, CBD and Harbor Bridge from Rangitoto Island
Devonport, CBD and Harbor Bridge from Rangitoto Island

Auckland is Waiheke Island.

Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island
Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island

Because Auckland is also a large city you get interesting cultural events in beautiful natural settings, like Sculpture on the Gulf on Waiheke Island.

Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island
Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island

Because Auckland is a very diverse city it offers events like the Lantern Festival, one of many opportunities to enjoy Chinese culture in New Zealand.

Auckland Lantern Festival
Auckland Lantern Festival

Many ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland, making it by far the country’s most cosmopolitan city. Europeans make up the majority of Auckland’s population, however substantial numbers of Māori, Pacific Islander and Asian peoples exist as well. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
Wikipedia

I haven’t been to Auckland’s Pasifika Festival.  I’ll try to remedy that in 2017.

Cook Island dancers at Auckland's Pasifica Festival
Cook Island dancers at Auckland’s Pasifica Festival – from Wikimedia Commons

Auckland has the spectacular Auckland Civic Theatre.  I’ll have to remember to post about this awesome place.

The Civic
The Civic

Auckland may not have the wildlife that the South Island has.  But it does have a great array of New Zealand’s native birds.

Tui
Tui

And naturalized birds as well.

Eastern rosella
Eastern rosella

I did meet a young seal on the coast below JFK Park.

Seal
Seal

There is a lone leopard seal that has moved into Auckland’s harbor.  She’s been here since at least June of 2015.

Leopard seal - from Wikimedia Commons
Leopard seal – from Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been trying to get a look at this seal, but haven’t had any luck so far.

DOC notice about Auckland's leopard seal
DOC notice about Auckland’s leopard seal

It Gets Better

I can’t really finish what I set out to do with this post, at this time – because it is possible, even likely, that I haven’t yet seen the best that Auckland has to offer.  I plan to remedy that in 2017.

I’ve booked 2 nights on Tiritiri Matangi Island, with its abundance of threatened and endangered birds and reptiles.  I look forward to the dawn chorus of native birds, and with a little luck I might get to meet little spotted kiwi, little blue penguins, tuatara, and other rare wildlife.

Little blue penguin - from tiritirimatangi.org.nz
Little blue penguins – from tiritirimatangi.org.nz

I hope to visit Kawau Island, with its four species of wallaby.

Dama wallaby - from Wikimedia Commons
Dama wallaby – from Wikimedia Commons

And kookaburra!

Kookaburra - from kawauisland.org.nz
Kookaburra – from kawauisland.org.nz

Wallaby are tenacious pests that do extensive damage to Kawau Island, but before they are eradicated, I want to see kangaroos in Auckland.  Of course Kawau Island offers a lot of native, less destructive reasons to visit as well.

I’ll post soon about my recent visit to Rangitoto Island.  Rangitoto is one huge pohutukawa forest, so I may decide to go back very soon to see them all in bloom.

Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island

I want to make it out to Great Barrier Island and ideally spend a couple of weeks there.

A view over the eastern coast of Great Barrier Island, from a ridge line in the center of the island
A view over the eastern coast of Great Barrier Island, from a ridge line in the center of the island – from Wikimedia Commons

Whakanewha is the only regional park I haven’t posted about, and it is located on Waiheke IslandSculpture on the Gulf is coming up, from January 26 through February 19.  There are many other places I need to visit on Waiheke as well.

The Hauraki Gulf has over 50 islands, and I plan to visit a number of others that I haven’t mentioned above.

By the middle of 2017 I hope to be a much greater authority on Auckland, and in a greatly improved position to show you what is really great about The Big Smoke!

Achilles Point to Point England, on the foreshore

Just a few days after walking Tamaki Drive the tide was right for walking Achilles Point to Point England on the foreshore.  When the weather decided to cooperate as well, I knew what I had to do.

St Heliers Beach
St Heliers Beach

I did most of the Point to Point Walkway previously on the roads and paths, and realized that I should go back and walk this part of the coast on the foreshore.

To see Achilles Point to Point England on Google Maps 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.

Rocks at the east end of St Heliers Beach
Rocks at the east end of St Heliers Beach

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.

Just east of St Heliers Beach on the way to Ladies Bay Berach
Just east of St Heliers Beach on the way to Ladies Bay Berach

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.

Bridge out between St Heliers Beach and Ladies Bay Beach
Bridge out between St Heliers Beach and Ladies Bay Beach

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.

Bridge out between St Heliers Beach and Ladies Bay Beach
Bridge out between St Heliers Beach and Ladies Bay Beach

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.

Approaching Ladies Bay Beach
Approaching Ladies Bay Beach

It didn’t yet know what lay around the corner, but at this point my way forward was clear.

Approaching Ladies Bay
Approaching Ladies Bay

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.

Walkway down to Ladies Bay Beach
Walkway down to Ladies Bay Beach

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.

Ladies Bay Beach
Ladies Bay Beach

Just around Achilles Point, the long beach at Gentlemens Bay offers a feeling of seclusion, at least for a short while.

Gentlemans Bay Beaach
Gentlemens Bay Beach

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.

Access to Gentlemens Bay Beaach
Access to Gentlemens Bay Beach

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.

Gentlemans Bay Beaach
Gentlemens Bay Beach

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.

Karaka Bay Beach
Karaka Bay Beach

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.

Karaka Bay Beach
Karaka Bay Beach

The foreshore always has interesting rock formations.

Coast of Tamaki Strait
Coast of Tamaki Strait

This part of the coast is close to Browns Island, and also to the ferries coming and going from Half Moon Bay.

Rangitoto and Browns Island
Rangitoto and Browns Island

By this point there is mud on top of the rock shelf even near to the shore.

Approaching the Glendowie Boating Club
Approaching the Glendowie Boating Club

The green grass of Roberta Reserve offers a nice break from an especially muddy part of the coast.

Roberta Reserve
Roberta Reserve

Across a stream lined with mangroves lies the Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve, and I was back on the beach.

Sandspit Beach at Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve
Sandspit Beach at Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve

Here’s a nice view of Browns Island over the low-tide mudflats from Sandspit Beach.

Browns Island from Sandspit Beach
Browns Island 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.

The Spit
The Spit

But it got really windy at this point, as I suspect it often does, so I just rounded the point and headed south.

Looking south toward Maungarei Mountain
Looking south toward Maungarei Mountain

It soon got muddy again, so I took the path through Tahuna Torea and crossed the road to Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve.

Entrance to Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve
Entrance 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.

Foreshore of Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve
Foreshore of Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve

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.

point-to-point-auckland-dsc_6030

Flowers at Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve
Flowers at Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve

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.

Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve
Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve

Mount Maunganui rises in the distance over the pastures of this reserve, and of Point England.

Mount Maunganui
Mount Maunganui

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
Point England

Point England has beaches also, so I was able to get back to the foreshore.

Point England
Point England

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.

Royal spoonbill
Royal spoonbill

During breeding season these birds get really interesting haircuts to impress the ladies.

Royal spoonbill - from Wikimedia Commons
Royal spoonbill – from Wikimedia Commons

I got too close, and they flew away.

Royal spoonbill
Royal spoonbill

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.

Tamaki Coast
Tamaki Coast

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.

Mount Wellington War Memorial Reserve
Mount Wellington War Memorial Reserve

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.

New views of Tawharanui

in which Miles takes in the previously unseen at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.

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

With the white sand beaches so near the car park, it’s easy to have a look before proceeding further.  A cloud shrouded the top of Little Barrier Island throughout this visit.

Omaha Bay and Little Barrier Island
Omaha Bay and Little Barrier Island

My plan was to walk the North Coast and South Coast Tracks, but I was pushing the limits of the time available before sunset, and not inclined to take less time for pictures, or to rush in any way.  Fishermans Track offered me a way to compromise, and walk just part of the South Coast Track.  See the map of the park on the Auckland Council website.

The North Coast Track offered familiar views of that coastline from a higher vantage point.  The track itself is mowed grass through pasture-like lands.

North Coast Track
North Coast Track

It seemed a shame not to take the Tokatu Point Lookout Track to the end of the peninsula, but I decided to save that for another day.

Little Barrier Island over Tokatu Point
Little Barrier Island over Tokatu Point

The meeting of the North Coast and South Coast Tracks offers a nice view of the waters on both sides of the peninsula.

Tawharanui Peninsula from the intersection of the North and South Coast Tracks
Tawharanui Peninsula from the intersection of the North and South Coast Tracks

The South Coast Track shares meadow-like characteristics with the North Coast Track.  Fishermans Track however dove quickly into the bush.

Fishermans Track
Fishermans Track

On Fishermans Track I got my first decent pictures of a Wood Pigeon.  It seemed much more cautious than drunk on the berries they are reportedly fond of.  Maybe none are available in Tawharanui.

New Zealand Wood Pidgeon
New Zealand Wood Pigeon

There are more pictures to enjoy, and I plan to add just a bit more information in the captions as well.  To view the full gallery of photos on imgur, click here.