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.
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.
I’ve been busy lately, and my posts have been far too infrequent. But I have continued to explore, and more is coming. I’ve been working on providing additional options for navigating the site, starting the Auckland and its Regional Parks. I’ve enjoyed a post I’ve been working on about Auckland and its status as the most underrated region in New Zealand. I’ll be bringing that and more to you soon!
Mangere Mountain is an extinct volcano near Ambury Park and a very visible landmark in South Auckland, responsible for the geology of the surrounding area.
The bottom portion of the shelter below would appear to be ancient stonework, but I haven’t been able to learn anything about it. All of the stone walls in Ambury reminded me of the stonework found at nearby Otuataua Stonefields. I visited Otuataua Stonefields in 2014, but haven’t yet posted about it.
I didn’t see many insects in the insect garden, but I enjoyed this family of chickens, although they would seem to be unwelcome in an insect garden.
This beautiful cat is another creature that I guess is probably not really welcome in Ambury Park. Cats are a threat to native wildlife in New Zealand, and some call for their elimination from the country. I had never seen one before, but this looks to me like a bengal cat.
It being spring, there are many babies among the animals at Ambury Park at the moment. The kids below frolicked in a way that put the spring lambs to shame.
You can view the full gallery of 20 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.