The Watercare Coastal Walkway is a bit long to walk, at 7km one way, especially considering that no buses run to Otuataua Stonefields, one end of the walk. One day I’d like to do it on a bicycle. In the meantime I decided to go check out one of the side trips along the walkway – the Mangere Lagoon loop. To see the lagoon on Google Maps, click here.
Mangere Lagoon is a tidal lagoon. The tide was low during my visit. Below is a picture from Wikimedia Commons, taken from Mangere Mountain, showing more water in the lagoon. You can see the narrow causeway that separates the lagoon from the Manukau Harbor. In the distance is the causeway that leads to Puketutu Island.
We parked in the carpark just off of Creamery Road, and walked in a clockwise direction. This leads quickly to the causeway that separates the lagoon from Manukau Harbor.
Black swans decorated the land and seascapes.
In the 30s they tried to convert the Mangere Lagoon to pasture land. In the late 50s the scoria cone was removed and the lagoon converted into sludge ponds for sewage treatment.
Later they created an improved sewage treatment facility next to the lagoon. You can see it on the left edge of the first pic in this post. The lagoon and scoria cone were restored, with extra flat space for birds to roost.
It was a fairly short walk, so we went to check out Puketutu Island. We parked in the carpark where you arrive on the island, and walked the path to the north. It’s a nice walk along the coast with views over the harbor, but it ends after maybe a 20 minute walk. Beyond that path and one to the south of the carpark, access to the island seems to be restricted.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
Mangere Mountain is one of the largest volcanic cones in the Auckland volcanic field, with a peak 106 meters above sea level. It was the site of a major pā (Māori fortified village), and you can still see a lot of the earthworks there today.
It is a prominent landmark in south Auckland, and I had been visiting places in that area recently, so I decided to check out Mangere Mountain up close.
This is one of those places that panoramas are made for. We parked at the Onehunga Mangere Soccer & Softball Club and walked up the cone in a clockwise direction.
I discovered Otuataua Stonefields in the summer of 2014. It is said that Auckland was born here; the local Maori tell stories of people settling in this area around 835 AD. The reserve is waahi tāpu (a sacred place) to descendants of Te Wai-o-Hua and Waikato Iwi
of the Tainuiwaka (canoe).
Otuataua Stonefields is located on the Ihumātao Peninsula in the suburb of Mangere. The 100 hectare reserve is full of volcanic rock, and features Māori stone garden mounds and Māori and European dry-stone walls. I immediately recognized similar rock and stonework at Ambury Regional Park, about 7km away along the coast.
Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve is located on the Manukau Harbor near the Auckland Airport. Sandy beaches on the coast here combined with the fertile volcanic soil, making this a desirable place to live for centuries.
It was a hot day in the summer of 2014, and I sought out the shade of some forest remnants along the long dry stone wall near the southern edge of the reserve.
My feelings about graffiti in a reserve, especially one of great historic significance, are mixed at best – but this is some pretty cool graffiti.
The pictures above surely look pretty green compared to many parts of the world, but by New Zealand standards, the summer of 2014 was apparently a fairly dry one – compare with the pictures below, taken in the wet March of 2017.
I was surprised at how much I found myself adjusting the saturation of these pictures downward in order to make them look real. The grass was probably a brighter green than you see here.
With a friend, I explored the southern part of Otuataua Stonefields as I had in 2014. But this time, on the way out, we found the avocado orchard.
There were several families using very long sticks to get avocados from the trees. I hoped that someone would leave a stick behind for me to use, but that didn’t happen, and I couldn’t be bothered to find a harvesting stick of my own.
I regretted not taking any avocados home with me, as I had never picked one from a tree. So on my next visit in May, I visited the orchard first.
There was a wedding party taking pictures.
There were fewer trees with fruit in May, and the low-hanging fruit had long been taken. It was a lot of work – the avocados weren’t ripe and didn’t come off the tree easily, and it took a while to find a branch that I could reach by jumping to pull the fruit down into reach – but I managed to collect my limit of 5 small ones. I let them sit at home for weeks before they ripened, and when they did so, it happened very suddenly. Fortunately the flesh stayed nice and green, and the seeds were the easiest to remove of any avocado I’ve had. This summer avocados were as cheap as I’ve ever seen in New Zealand, but by May the price was again so high that I don’t even consider it, so these free avocado were nice to have. I enjoyed them with lemon and salt.
The grass in May was an even brighter green. This time I checked out the Puketaapapa Cone, the smaller of the reserve’s two volcanoes.
Puketaapapa Cone is part of the geology walk in the northeastern part of Otuataua Stonefields. It offers some nice views of Mangere Mountain, another volcano closer to Ambury Regional Park.
One Tree Hill is visible across the Manukau Harbor; in the picture below it can be seen beyond the palm grove in the foreground.
The geology walk also visits the lava caves. I only saw what must be the most obvious of the caves, which has bars mounted to prevent entrance. You have to look closely at the picture below to see it (lower center).
Otuataua Cone is what remains of the reserve’s larger volcano. It is located in the southernmost corner of Otuataua Stonefields. The crater was once the site of a Maori pa, or fortified village. It was quarried in the 50s, and some of the stone was used to build the Auckland Airport. Partial reconstruction left the Otuataua Cone a shallow, grassy crater.
It took me 3 visits and some research online to feel that I had experienced most of what Otuataua Stonefields has to offer. I recommend that you Google it before you go. When you arrive, snap a pic of the info board for reference, and follow the various walks.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 22 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
I followed the beach to a sand spit that extends out into Half Moon Bay.
I found that sand spit interesting enough that I had to walk to the very end.
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.
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.
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.
The walk from St. Heliers back up to Achilles Point offered a dramatic early evening view of the Auckland 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.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.