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.
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.
I did continue to experience Auckland’s nature and culture. I spent a day immersed in Pacific Island cultures at the Pasifika Festival.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Still working my way through the Kaipatiki Explorer, I set out to explore 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
But soon it turned into this.
And then into this. Eventually I was tightrope walking the curb to try to avoid actually walking in the 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.
The bush was a pleasant change from Kaipatiki Road and immediate confirmation that walking back inside the reserve was the better option.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Holdaway Avenue there’s a nice view of the Sky Tower and Mount Eden.
West of Holdaway Avenue is where the bush starts to get interesting.
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.
At the bottom of the clearing the trail drops down into a marshy area that becomes Waiurutoa Stream.
This may be the most scenic bush, although it was in shade by this time, until close to Woodside Avenue.
Cecil Eady Bush is another Kaipatiki region reserve with dense, lush bush, and a great place for a walk.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 17 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
We were there for the big kauri, so we entered Leigh Reserve through the Morriggia Place entrance.
The bush opens onto a grassy area with a bench overlooking a house and driveway. The grassy bit slopes downhill and enters the bush, and things get interesting.
The big kauri right at the edge of the bush is unusual in that the view of it’s entire height is unblocked by other trees. It’s impressive, but the big one appears as you reach the top of the steps at the bottom right of the picture below.
This is the largest kauri on Auckland’s North Shore. It’s over 2 meters in diameter, and could be as old as 800 years.
With many kauri, you can only see clearly the part that is below or above the canopy. Fortunately the trail leads right past the trunk of this big tree, so you get a different perspective. Pictures often fail to capture the size of these trees. The pic below probably comes closest.
The bush at Leigh Scenic Reserve is shady with a large variety of trees.
Le Roys Bush is one of those reserves that provides (among other things) the nicest possible way to walk between neighborhoods. It connects with Little Shoal Bay Reserve offering longer walks in the bush.
I entered Le Roys Bush from the northernmost entrance on Onewa Road.
Onewa Road is busy, and it was a hot sunny day. Le Roys Bush was a cool lush sanctuary. I fell into a walking groove and didn’t stop to take out my camera until I reached Little Shoal Bay Reserve and found a bench in the shade with a nice view of the Sky Tower. I’ll start there, and take you back through Le Roys Bush.
Little Shoal Bay Reserve has open green space, a bowling club and basketball courts, and across Maritime Terrace, a boat yard and beach. I’ve been there a number of times, so I didn’t leave the shade at the back of the open space.
The creek that runs through the center of Le Roys Bush widens into a large marsh in Little Shoal Bay Reserve. The track follows the edge of that marsh to Le Roys Bush.
A boardwalk crosses that marsh near the west end of Little Shoal Bay Reserve to provide access to Glade Place. It was too inviting to pass up, and became my one wrong turn of the day.
Le Roys Bush is very dense and full of a wide variety of trees.
At a stream crossing an info board educates the visitor on the local fish.
Le Roy means “the king” in French. Apparently the surname Leroy is also sometimes spelled Le Roy. I wasn’t able to find any info regarding the name of this park.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 10 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hadfield Street Reserve has a second beach, nicer than the first.
I enjoyed the trees and cliffs on Kaipatiki Coastal Walk 2 as on all of my favorite coastal walks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The last bay/inlet before Larking’s Landing, Hilders Park, and Beach Haven ferry terminal, proved impassible.
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.
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.
Hilders Park looks across the harbor at the coast of Hobsonville.
And northwest toward the Upper Harbor Motorway Bridge.
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.
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.
An impressive old tree stands at the top of a trail leading down to the shore.
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.
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.
I had a few hours the day after Christmas and decided to check out Island Bay Reserve and some surrounding reserves.
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.
The picnic area looks over Island Bay to the beach at Hadfield Street Reserve, accessible via Island Bay Road.
Island Bay Wharf was getting some use for fishing and launching small boats.
I’d guess that the beach next to the wharf is part of Fred Anderson Reserve.
The tide was coming in at Island Bay
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.
The coast there had maybe the reddest pohutukawa I’ve seen.
The tide came in while I explored. I decided to go back up to the street and walk around rather than wade.
The skies cleared up briefly and showed me Island Bay in another light.
More people had arrived to enjoy the best weather of the day.
And to launch more boats.
I checked out an entrance to a different part of Fred Anderson Reserve off of Valkyria Place.
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.
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.
The path gets steep.
Soldiers Bay looks different at high tide.
I walked around a bit and had a closer look at the bridge over the stream.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 26 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
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.
* 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.
We enjoyed watching a couple of guys racing remote controlled sailboats. The largest pond has buoys for this.
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.
Just inside the gate are a series of paths that wander among native plants from many parts of New Zealand.
The gardens are very lush, and the plants spill onto the paths.
The surrounding bush is just as green and dense. The Fern House fits perfectly into this setting.
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.
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.
The Fern House is every bit as verdant as the gardens.
And so is the bush.
From Fern Hourse steps descend past a big tanekaha and a 300 year old Kauri to the Canal Track.
Rotary Grove has 20 young kauri trees that were 2 meters tall when donated in 1998 by the Birkenhead Rotary.
Back at the gardens, there’s some kind of crazy tree in front of the 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.
Enjoy the full gallery of 16 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.