Tag Archives: Auckland

Leaving Auckland is such sweet sorrow

Some time around early November I knew that I would soon be leaving Auckland.  I resolved to make the most of the time I had left.  It was a sort of New Years resolution, and I started strong, with a 3 day trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island in early January.

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

After that my efforts tapered off quite a bit.  I found myself leaving Auckland with the islands of the Hauraki Gulf are still largely unexplored.  A trip to the islands takes a fair bit of planning, and I didn’t really make that happen.  I made a visit to Waiheke Island, but only for one day of Sculpture on the Gulf.

Sculpture on the Gulf
Sculpture on the Gulf

I did continue to experience Auckland’s nature and culture.  I spent a day immersed in Pacific Island cultures at the Pasifika Festival.

Cook Islands Stage
Cook Islands Stage

Before leaving Auckland I became familiar with my new neighborhood the Kaipatiki region.  I moved there at the end of November.  This area is densely populated with parks and reserves.

Hilders Park and western Waitemata Harbor - Leaving Auckland
Hilders Park and western Waitemata Harbor

I met a girl last fall, and she had better opportunities in south Hawkes Bay.  I’m a digital nomad, so moving is not a problem for me.  There are some things I miss about the only place in New Zealand that I’ve ever called home, but leaving Auckland is an opportunity to get to know a part of New Zealand that I’ve barely begun to explore.

I don’t miss Auckland’s traffic.  But I do miss taking ferries as a way to avoid traffic.

Double hulled waka on Waitemate Harbor - Leaving Auckland
Double hulled waka on Waitemate Harbor

The gulf, harbors, and islands of Auckland offer a lot of great views that appear before you as you move about the city.  Since the end of November we enjoyed a view of western Waitemate Harbor from our living room and deck.  It was flanked by young kauri trees.

Kaipatiki view of western Waitemate harbor - Leaving Auckland
Kaipatiki view of western Waitemate harbor

On our way out of Auckland we drove to the top of One Tree Hill.  It was a beautiful winter day.  We took in that great 360 degree view of the city and the region.

Eastern Auckland from one Tree Hill - Leaving Auckland
Eastern Auckland from one Tree Hill

In both panoramas you can see both Tamaki Strait in the east and Manukau Harbor in the west.  Look closely and you’ll see the sheep on One Tree Hill.

Western Auckland from one Tree Hill - Leaving Auckland
Western Auckland from one Tree Hill

There was a bit of moisture in the air, but it was clear enough to see Cornwallis Peninsula across Manukau Harbor, and behind it Manukau Heads and one of the peaks of Whatipu.

Manukau Harbor, Cornwallis Peninsula, Manukau Heads and Whatipu - Leaving Auckland
Manukau Harbor, Cornwallis Peninsula, Manukau Heads and Whatipu

After this long goodbye we got on with leaving Auckland.  We went slightly out of our way to stop for lunch in Rotorua.  We drove to the lake for a quick look before continuing.  We had left a day late due to some work that came up, and by waiting we got a much nicer day for the drive.

Lake Rotorua - Leaving Auckland
Lake Rotorua

Southern Hawkes Bay has somewhat more distinct seasons than Auckland, with frost a few times every year.  Last summer at least was much more of a summer in Hawkes Bay.

We had the next day off, and the weather was clear, so we were able to get right into exploring the area.  We had left Auckland for new horizons.  But I’m sure that we’ll return, if only to visit.

Ngataringa Bay Coastal Walk, Devonport to Bayswater

I knew that my expedition to walk the coast from Devonport to Bayswater would be my last walk in Auckland for a long while.  The weather was forecast to clear, and before I left I had a look from the deck over the Waitemata Harbor.  Heavy fog over the harbor produced the brightest rainbow I’ve seen in New Zealand, and possibly the first full double rainbow.  It was a bright start to a somewhat melancholy occasion.

Rainbow over western Waitemata Harbor
Rainbow over western Waitemata Harbor

The coastal walks are some of my favorite walks in Auckland.  I intended at various points to further explore the coasts of Ngataringa and Shoal Bays, but close looks at Google maps, and previous experience, indicated that it was all mud and mangroves and little access to the coast.

A closer look revealed that there are some paths along the coast of Ngataringa Bay that I hadn’t noticed before, so I went to have a look.  I borrowed the map of the Devonport to Takapuna Green Route and added my own path in red (see below).

Ngataringa Bay Coastal Walk, Devonport to Bayswater
Ngataringa Bay Coastal Walk, Devonport to Bayswater

I parked at the end of Victoria Road.  The entrance to Dacre Park was plain to see.  The day had cleared up beautifully.

Entrance to Dacre Park
Entrance to Dacre Park

There’s a good track along the edge of the park.

Path along the edge of Dacre Park
Path along the edge of Dacre Park

Soon enough a nice view opened up over dense mangroves at the edges of Ngataringa Bay.

Ngataringa Bay and Harbor Bridge
Ngataringa Bay and Harbor Bridge
Ngatarings Bay - Devonport to Bayswater
Ngatarings Bay

Ngataringa Park has a large open grassy space.

Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Park
Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park skate park
Ngataringa Park skate park

Near Lake Road there’s a wooded area with spiraling paths and a definite druid vibe.

Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park

Leaving Ngataringa Park you have to walk a short distance along Lake Road.

Ngataringa Bay from Lake Road
Ngataringa Bay from Lake Road

The mangroves and mud come right up to Lake Road for this stretch.  Right on the other side is a path into the bush along the bay.  A short distance in is Mary Barrett Glade.

Mary Barrett Glade

Mary Barrett Glade

This path follows the coast along the edge of Polly’s Park.  You don’t actually see the park from the bush.

Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Bay
Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Bay
Devonport-Bayswater
Devonport-Bayswater

I had a good look at the possibility of continuing along the coast, and saw no possibility.  The path leaves the coast and emerges from the bush along the west end of Polly’s Park.  Looking southeast you can see over Polly’s Park, Ngataringa Park, Mount Victoria, and in the distance North  Head.

Polly's Park, Ngataringa Park, Mount Victoria, North Head
Polly’s Park, Ngataringa Park, Mount Victoria, North Head

I was able to ask someone passing by about the possibility of following the coast around Duder Point.  She offered no hope, so I continued along Wesley Road.

Kawarau Road and Hill Park
Kawarau Road and Hill Park

I went and had a look at Hill Park, and found a path back along the coast toward Duder point.  I stopped when it seemed too obvious that I would be walking into someone’s back yard.

Path from Hill Park toward Duder Point
Path from Hill Park toward Duder Point

I retreated to Merwood Lane and took the bridge to Plymouth Reserve.

Bridge to Plymouth Reserve
Bridge to Plymouth Reserve

There’s a nice view from the bridge.

View from bridge to Plymounth Reserve
View from bridge to Plymounth Reserve

Plymounth Reserve is a strip of grass separated from the Plymouth Crescent houses by a narrow band of trees.

Plymouth Reserve
Plymouth Reserve
Plymouth Reserve
Plymouth Reserve

Here again I found no way to continue along the coast.  The path ends at Plymouth Crescent, which leads to Bayswater Park.  On the other side of the park is O’Neill’s Point Cemetery.

O'Neill’s Point Cemetery
O’Neill’s Point Cemetery

I love a good coastal walk.  This walk from Devonport to Bayswater is a good continuation of the North Shore Coastal Walk (click for parts 1, 2 and 3 of that great walk).

Please enjoy the full gallery of 24 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Kicking It Old-Growth in Eaves Bush

It’s probably true that a person can get jaded about anything.  I had been doing Auckland in every way I could think of for more than two years.  As beautiful as her parks and reserves are, it was getting hard to find a place that really blew me away.  Then I discovered Eaves Bush.

Old North Road entrance to Eaves Bush
Old North Road entrance to Eaves Bush

Formally known as Alice Eaves Scenic Reserve, this is 16 hectares of old-growth coastal kauri broadleaf forest.  It contains such other species as kahikatea, karaka, kōwhai, mataī, puriri, rewarewa, supplejack, taraire, and nīkau

Eaves Bush
Eaves Bush

Eaves Bush is located in Orewa, about a 30 minute drive from Auckland’s city center.

Below is the map from the info board at the entrance showing the tracks in the reserve.

Eaves Bush map
Eaves Bush map

The bush is impressive immediately upon entering the park.

Eaves Bush
Eaves Bush

I started by following the track to the old hollow kauri.

Old North Road to Kensington Park track
Old North Road to Kensington Park track

The old hollow kauri is about 800 years old.  It’s not very large for its age, apparently due to having endured storms, lightning, fire and at least one axe.

Old hollow kauri
Old hollow kauri

The distortion in the image above is due to the fact that it is a panorama shot vertically.  The boardwalk that keeps visitors off of the kauri’s roots kept me too close to get a good single picture of this big old tree.

I continued on past the old hollow kauri.  The bush kept on being stunning.

Old North Road to Kensington Park track
Old North Road to Kensington Park track

The track continues past the Kensington Park bridge, but it gets much muddier, and the bush gets a bit less interesting.  I walked on for maybe ten minutes before turning back.

Old North Road to Kensington Park track
Old North Road to Kensington Park track

I returned to the old hollow kauri and took the path up to the lookout.

Hollow kauri to lookout track
Hollow kauri to lookout track
Hollow kauri to lookout track
Hollow kauri to lookout track

The trees blocked any view from the lookout.  It’s sort of a shame, since Eaves Bush is very close to the Hibiscus Coast, and it would probably offer a pretty sweet view.  But I can understand a reluctance to cut on the trees in a reserve like this.

Lookout
Lookout

A walked a short distance up the track to Hillcrest Road to see if a view opened up, but it didn’t happen.

Lookout to Hillcrest Road track
Lookout to Hillcrest Road track

I walked the Loop track next.  The bush was similar to what you’ve seen so far, but with more kauri.  Then I took the track from the lookout back to Old North Road.

Somehow I realized that I had missed the pa site near Hillcrest Road, and decided to drive there.  The Hillcrest Road entrance is prominently marked.

Hillcrest Road entrance
Hillcrest Road entrance

It didn’t take long to reach a point on the path that I recognized from my short walk uphill toward Hillcrest Road from the lookout, but I didn’t see any signs for the pa.  I looked at the map again, and ventured into the bush near the entrance, but didn’t really see anything.  Some pa are easy to recognize as such, and some are not – this was one of the latter.

I found this map online, and realized that when I was exploring near the entrance, I was exploring Nukuhau Pa.  You can read more about it here.

Nukuhau Pa
Nukuhau Pa

Eaves Bush is small, but it’s pretty awesome.

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

Walking the Witheford Reserve Loop

Still working my way through the Kaipatiki Explorer, I set out to explore Witheford Reserve.

Witheford Reserve
Witheford Reserve

Kaipatiki Explorer 2017 doesn’t offer maps of many of the smaller reserves.  The map above is from Kaipatiki Explorer 2015.

I parked at the end of Noeleen Street, and entered Witheford Reserve via a narrow path between houses.

Witheford Reserve's Noeleen Street entrance
Witheford Reserve’s Noeleen Street entrance

At the end of the path pictured above a set of stairs descends into the abundant, verdant bush (I’ve worn out adjectives like “dense” and “lush” in my posts about Kaipatiki region parks).

Witheford Reserve
Witheford Reserve

A second set of stairs is really steep.  If you leave the reserve via Noeleen Street or Valcrest Place you’re in for a good workout.

Witheford Reserve
Witheford Reserve

Fallen trees blocked the first bridge I came to, but I was able to get past them, and continue on a worn but solid boardwalk.

Witheford Reserve
Witheford Reserve

This reserve is a bit rough around the edges, but other than the fallen trees the bridges and stairs are safe, although the latter are a bit steep in places, and the trails are solid and in most place drain well, and don’t get too muddy.

Witheford Reserve
Witheford Reserve

At the south end of the reserve you have four options – you can exit onto Witheford Drive, you can continue on to Manuka Reserve, or you can cross the bridge and head south to Eskdale Reserve, or north to continue walking around Witheford Reserve.

I usually like a good loop, but it would have been more enjoyable to walk back through the center of the reserve.  I had a look at the path along Kaipatiki Road, and it looked reasonably pleasant at the start.

Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road
Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road

But soon it turned into this.

Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road
Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road

And then into this.  Eventually I was tightrope walking the curb to try to avoid actually walking in the road.

Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road
Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road

The entrance back into the reserve is across from a school, but there is no place nearby to cross Kaipatiki Road, and no place nearby to park.

Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road Entrance
Witheford Reserve, Kaipatiki Road Entrance

The bush was a pleasant change from Kaipatiki Road and immediate confirmation that walking back inside the reserve was the better option.

Witheford Reserve
Witheford Reserve

It is a fairly short walk back to the steep stairs at the north end of Witheford Reserve.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 13 pictures below.  To view of imgur click here.

Mangere Lagoon offers a nice and scenic short walk

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
Mangere Lagoon

Mangere Lagoon is a maar, a broad, low-relief volcanic crater caused by a phreatomagmatic eruption, an explosion which occurs when groundwater comes into contact with hot lava or magma.  It has a small scoria island in the center.  Mangere Mountain is right next to it.

Mangere Lagoon, scoria island, and Mangere Mountain
Mangere Lagoon, scoria island, and Mangere Mountain

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.

Mangere Lagoon from Mangere Mountain
Mangere Lagoon from Mangere Mountain

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.

Manukau Harbor, Puketutu Island
Manukau Harbor, Puketutu Island
Manukau Harbor, Puketutu Island
Manukau Harbor, Puketutu Island

Black swans decorated the land and seascapes.

Black swans at Mangere Lagoon
Black swans at Mangere Lagoon

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.

Mangere Lagoon
Mangere Lagoon

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.

One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill from the Mangere Lagoon loop

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.

Puketutu Island
Puketutu Island

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Walking a Short Loop in Cecil Eady Bush

Back in December I walked a loop in Kauri Glen, and on a clear autumn day I went back to explore the neighboring Cecil Eady Bush.

Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush

I was still working my way through the Kaipatiki region’s parks and reserves.  Kaipatiki Explorer 2017 shows some different tracks than the map above, from Kaipatiki Explorer 2015 , but I think they’re all still accessible – and I believe there may be some others as well.

My plan was to start on Lake Road and walk a loop  by following the tracks to James Evans Drive and Holdaway Avenue.  I parked on Kokoro Street, and decided to have a quick look at Dudding Avenue Reserve.

Dudding Avenue Reserve
Dudding Avenue Reserve

It’s a small reserve with one track that connects with Dudding Avenue.  The bush is dense and the track could use some work, but it’s safe enough.  When I came within sight of Dudding Avenue I turned back.

Dudding Avenue Reserve
Dudding Avenue Reserve

The trail into Cecil Eady Bush starts at Lake Road next to a day care center, and follows Waiurutoa Stream through a narrow and shady strip of trees.  Woodside Avenue now connects with Fowler Street.  Just on the other side of Woodside Avenue the trail forks, and I ascended the stairs to James Evans Drive.

Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush

From Holdaway Avenue there’s a nice view of the Sky Tower and Mount Eden.

Sky Tower and Mount Eden from Holdaway Avenue
Sky Tower and Mount Eden from Holdaway Avenue

West of Holdaway Avenue is where the bush starts to get interesting.

Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush

It wasn’t long before I was heading east again.  I came to a large mowed clearing with houses nearby that I can’t find on Google Maps.  It is dominated by a large evergreen.

Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush

At the bottom of the clearing the trail drops down into a marshy area that becomes Waiurutoa Stream.

Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush

This may be the most scenic bush, although it was in shade by this time, until close to Woodside Avenue.

Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush

Cecil Eady Bush is another Kaipatiki region reserve with dense, lush bush, and a great place for a walk.

Cecil Eady Bush
Cecil Eady Bush

Please enjoy the full gallery of 17 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Killarney Park on Lake Pupuke

Killarney Park is located on the south side of Lake Pupuke in Takapuna.  Because it is more sheltered than the nearby Hauraki Gulf, Lake Pupuke sees a lot of watersports practiced.  On this particular day there was a large sailing class.

Lake Pupuke - Killarney Park
Lake Pupuke

The Pumphouse Theatre is located within the park, and beside it is the French Rendez-vous Cafe/Restaurant.

The Pumphouse Theatre and Pupuke Lake
The Pumphouse Theatre and Pupuke Lake

My hope was that I could walk around the lake from Killarney Park.  Back in 2015 I had walked a fair distance along the shore of Lake Pupuke from Sylvan Park, on the north side of the lake.  Unfortunately this did not appear to be possible from Killarney Park, although I could look more closely at the east side of the park.

Lake Pupuke, Killarney Park
Lake Pupuke, Killarney Park

Killarney Park is a good way to access the lake.  It is also a good option for a break from a day out in Takapuna, a favorite place for pubs, dining and shopping.

Lake Pupuke, Killarney Park
Lake Pupuke, Killarney Park

There’s a fair bit of space as well, and some nice trees.

Killarney Park
Killarney Park

Please enjoy the full gallery of 5 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

O’Neill Beach

O’Neill Beach is most often reached via Bethells Beach (also called Te Henga).  These are black sand beaches located on Auckland’s west coast, between Anawhata and Piha to the south and Muriwai to the north.

Bethells Beach
Bethells Beach

I’ve taken you to both Bethells and O’Neill beaches before. Below is a picture of O’Neill Beach taken from Te Henga Walkway in July of 2015.

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

I returned in April of 2016 as a tour guide.  We were drawn to Ihumoana Island, and wasted no time removing our shoes and crossing the Waitakere River.

Crossing beach rivers like this one is an interesting challenge.  It’s often difficult to tell how deep they are.  We looked closely at various points along its length, and were still surprised when it was deeper than expected.  It was a cloudy day, and the water was cold.

Ihumoana Island
Ihumoana Island

On the other side of Ihumoana Island I pointed out the locked stairway up the rock.

Ihumoana Island
Ihumoana Island

Later I noticed for the first time the small building hidden among the trees on the top of the Island.

Ihumoana Island
Ihumoana Island

I also noticed that there is a house on the small peninsula that separates Waitakere Bay from O’Neill Bay.  The rocks here would be an island as well if not for the high sand dunes on this peninsula.  Click here to check out this very interesting address on Google Maps. Note that Google Maps doesn’t show an address on top of Ihumoana Island, and I don’t think that building is someone’s house.

The sand dunes between beaches provide a great view of O’Neill Beach and Kauwahia Island.  At high tide these islands would actually be separated from the beach by water.

O'Neill Beach
O’Neill Beach and Kauwahia Island

O’Neill Beach was nearly empty.  We decided to walk the length of it.

O'Neill Beach
O’Neill Beach

Once we noticed the caves at the back of the beach we had to have a closer look.  As you can see below, one of those caves is actually a tunnel.  It’s large enough to walk into, but you’d have to crawl out the other side.

O'Neill Beach
O’Neill Beach

We walked back at the edge of where the waves reached, where the water was a mirror between waves.

O'Neill Beach
O’Neill Beach

Ihumoana Island and Bethells Beach came back into view from the top of the dunes.

O'Neill Beach
O’Neill Beach

We didn’t explore Bethells Beach any further than to recross the Waitakere River, then head back to the carpark.

Bethells Beach
Bethells Beach

O’Neill Beach is a small one, but a good one.  I haven’t often gone to the trouble to take off my shoes to cross those deep beach rivers, but it’s well worth doing.  Just walking in the sand in bare feet is enjoyable.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 14 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Mangere Mountain

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 (Māori fortified village), and you can still see a lot of the earthworks there today.

Mangere Mountain from Ambury Regional Park
Mangere Mountain from Ambury Regional Park

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.

Mangere Mountain from near the Onehunga Mangere Soccer & Softball Club
Mangere Mountain from near the Onehunga Mangere Soccer & Softball Club

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.

Mangere Mountain
Mangere Mountain

A view of Puketutu Island opens up as you reach the western rim.

Puketutu Island
Puketutu Island

In the saddle between the two highest points you get a wider view of the Manukau Harbour that takes in Otuataua Stonefields, Puketutu Island, Awhitu Peninsula, Manukau Heads, the Waitakere Ranges, and Ambury Regional Park.

Manukau harbor from Mangere mountain
Manukau harbor from Mangere mountain
Details on the view above - Mangere Mountain
Details on the view above

The top also offers a good view of the cone, and what I assume is the plug.  Correction – that’s a lava dome, something that no other Auckland volcanoes have.

The large crater from the north rim
The large crater from the north rim

In the other direction you have great views over Manukau Harbor to the Mangere Bridge and central Auckland.

Mangere Bridge and central Auckland
Mangere Bridge and central Auckland

That view includes Mount Eden, the Sky Tower and One Tree Hill.

Mount Eden, Sky Tower and One Tree Hill
Mount Eden, Sky Tower and One Tree Hill

The perspective on the cone itself changed as we continued walking in a clockwise direction around the rim.

Crater of Mangere Mountain
Crater of Mangere Mountain

We continued clockwise around the smaller crater.

The smaller crater on Mangere Mountain
The smaller crater on Mangere Mountain

Soon after that we completed the circle, and returned to the carpark.

Mangere Mountain, in Mangere Domain, is a small park with the terrain for good short walk with a bit of climbing and some great views of Auckland.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve

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 Tainui waka (canoe).

Otuataua Stonefields
Otuataua Stonefields

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
Otuataua Stonefields

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.

Otuataua Stonefields
Otuataua Stonefields

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.

Otuataua Stonefields
Otuataua Stonefields
Otuataua Stonefields
Otuataua Stonefields

My feelings about graffiti in a reserve, especially one of great historic significance, are mixed at best – but this is some pretty cool graffiti.

Graffiti near the coast
Graffiti near the coast

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.

Otuataua Stonefields
Otuataua Stonefields

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.

Otuataua Stonefields
Otuataua Stonefields

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.

Avocado orchard at Otuataua Stonefields
Avocado orchard at Otuataua Stonefields

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.

Avocado orchard at Otuataua Stonefields
Avocado orchard at Otuataua Stonefields

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.

Avocado orchard at Otuataua Stonefields
Avocado orchard at Otuataua Stonefields

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.

My avocado harvest
My avocado harvest

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
Puketaapapa Cone
Puketaapapa Cone
Puketaapapa Cone

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.

Mangere Mountain
Mangere Mountain

One Tree Hill is visible across the Manukau Harbor; in the picture below it can be seen beyond the palm grove in the foreground.

One Tree Hill over Manukau Harbor
One Tree Hill over Manukau Harbor

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 Stonefield lava caves
Otuataua Stonefield lava caves

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.

Otuataua Cone
Otuataua Cone

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.