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.
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.
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.
What I’m calling Kaipatiki Coastal Walk was called Coastal Walk 1 in the 2015 edition of the Kaipatiki Explorer. The two coastal walks take in almost the entire coastline of the Kaipatiki region of Auckland (Glenfield south to the Waitamata Harbor, with the Northern Motorway as its eastern border to the Waitamata Harbor as its western border). Sadly the coastal walks don’t seem to be included in the latest version of the guide.
The walks do their best to link together the various parks and reserves, keeping street walking to a minimum. I was able to stick pretty close to the route shown in the guide, starting at Tuff Crater Reserve.
I entered Tuff Crater Reserve behind the Warehouse Group corporate office off of Akoranga Drive. On the north side of the crater you can see Highway 1 and the CBD and Sky Tower.
The path leads around a sort of wetlands in the crater. It’s green and quiet with lots of birds.
I started a couple hours before low tide. I considered using the pedestrian bridge over Highway 1 at Heath Reserve to see if I could walk the foreshore. It’s good that I didn’t because I wouldn’t have gotten past the mouth of Onepoto Stream a short distance to the south.
A path that felt a bit like someone’s back yard and driveway led me to Heath Avenue. At the end of Heath Avenue and across Sylvan Avenue is a walkway between houses to Onepoto Domain.
I skipped a bush loop and chose the shortest way through the domain. There are some sports fields and a nice pond.
I really enjoyed the pohutukawa blooming in December. This tree on the edge of Onepoto Domain is probably the brightest I saw this season.
The Onepoto Cycleway bridge is visible from Onewa Road, but seems to have been designed to be viewed from the other side.
The Onepoto Cycleway is also for pedestrians. It meets and follows Onewa Road. There is no light or crossing at Bruce Street, so it’s probably best to walk to Queen Street instead – Onewa Road is 4 lanes and busy (click here to see the walk on Google Maps).
After crossing Onewa Road it’s quiet neighborhood streets to the Highway 1 underpass. The route shown on the Google Maps link above actually ends at the front of the police station; I continued on the sidewalk to the south end of the station to reach the underpass shown below.
I emerged right on the coast of Shoal Bay, right beside Highway 1, with views of Takapuna, Rangitoto, Bayswater, Devonport and the Sky Tower.
The bridge is right next to Sulphur Beach; the only road to Sulphur Beach goes under it.
I had never seen the beach below at low tide, so I took this opportunity to walk under the bridge to Gold Hole Reserve.
The boat yard at Gold Hole Reserve is off limits.
So I walked under the bridge again, and up the hill to Stokes Point Reserve.
I love the lookout beneath the bridge.
I had a late lunch here while enjoying the views.
After leaving the point I followed Queen Street to Halls Beach Reserve, which provides attractive access to the foreshore.
From Halls Beach Reserve it’s a short walk on the foreshore to Little Shoal Bay Reserve.
I was hoping to stay on the foreshore, but the tide was coming in, and I didn’t feel like taking my boots off to wade across the tidal streams.
I walked Maritime Terrace and Hinemoa Street to Birkenhead Warf. This is another favorite place to park at night and enjoy a beautiful view.
I walked up the hill through Hinemoa Park, along Palmerston Road to Rugby Road, and then to the end of Telephone Road to catch a path back to the foreshore.
A short alternate path leads through a small bamboo forest.
This path meets the foreshore Chelsea Bay Beach Area. There are a couple of houses here with nice big back yards with no boundaries between yards and beach. I’m always interested in how people deal with the requirement to allow public access to the foreshore.
Chelsea Bay Beach Area is very near Chelsea Sugar.
I’ve been trying to get a good picture of an eastern rosella for a while. I saw one soon after crossing the bridge above, and another soon after that. Then as I walked along Colonial Road I saw six of these colorful birds. I think they were eating the small white flowers in the grass.
Eastern rosella were introduced from Australia in the early 1900s. They’re now common on the North Island, but they had mostly eluded me until this walk.
In addition to military sites, biosecurity/Places of First Arrival trump the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 which guarantees access to the foreshore. I guess Chelsea Sugar is so big it needs supplies from overseas to pass customs on-site.
I heeded signs indicating private property, and wasn’t able to find a way back to the coast or into Kauri Point Centennial Park. Instead I crossed the bridge on Colonial Road and took the trail to Chatswood Reserve.
Chatswood Reserve is a well-signposted park. Unfortunately I needed to leave it almost immediately, via Homewood Place, in order to follow the best roads to Kauri Park. I entered Kauri Park via Kauri Road. At the entrance I met a very swole kererū.
I paused to enjoy the big kauri, and shoot a vertical panorama, before exiting onto Rangatira Road and walking home.
This is a great walk. If I had been able to stay on the foreshore for more of this walk I would have avoided some long stretches on the roads. One great spot I would have missed is Stokes Point Reserve.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 50 pictures below. Note that this photo gallery plugin loads the entire gallery before displaying a slideshow, so if you’d like to view the gallery as a slideshow you’ll probably have to wait a bit. To view on imgur, click here.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.