Tag Archives: Manukau Harbor

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.

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.

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.

Join me on A Guided Tour of Whatipu Beach

I got another chance to act as tour guide and chose Whatipu Beach,  still my favorite west coast beach. This visit rewarded us with something I had never seen before anywhere.

To see my various other posts on Whatipu Beach, use the search box at the top of the left column.

The view over Huia Bay was good, so I decided to drive back the short distance to Huia Point.

Huia Bay
Huia Bay

It was a beautiful day, and I took the opportunity to shoot a high-resolution panorama.  Enjoy, but be warned, it’s big.

Huia Point
Huia Point

We started with a walk to the sea caves.  It’s been raining a lot for months, and the campground meadow and the path to the point where the track enters the bush were wet, with pools in places.

Track to the sea caves at Whatipu Beach
Track to the sea caves

The large panorama below shows the whole view.

Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach area
Track to the sea caves at Whatipu Beach
Track to the sea caves

The track rises to offer some great views of the Whatipu Beach area.

Whatipu Beach landmarks
Whatipu Beach landmarks

There are some good size caves along this track.  It takes about 45 minutes to walk to the end.

Whatipu Beach sea cave
Whatipu Beach sea cave
Whatipu Beach sea cave
Whatipu Beach sea cave

There’s a toilet near that last cave, and I think there’s a campground, but it isn’t obvious where one should camp.

Whatipu Beach sea cave
Whatipu Beach sea cave

Maybe inside the cave?

Whatipu Beach sea cave
Whatipu Beach sea cave

It was a nice day, and I really like some of these pictures of the area.

Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach

The tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the beach proper.

Manukau Harbor - Whatipu Beach
Manukau Harbor and Manukau Heads

We made our way to the beach on Manukau Harbor and the rock shelf along the harbor side of Paratutae Island.  We immediately saw dozens of small crabs, already scurrying under rocks by the time we spotted them.  My companion loves crab.  Most western people would have considered them too small to eat, but Asians look at such things differently.  Where the rocks could be moved, I moved them, and she grabbed the little crabs.  Later she removed the back part of the shell, removed the insides, and fried them in a pan with salt and pepper.  The shells were just a bit crunchy, and they were delicious.

Next we walked toward the lighthouse.

Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach

The orca below is just visible in the pic above.  This gives you a good idea how big this beach is.

Orca on Whatipu Beach
Orca on Whatipu Beach

Tourists camped at Whatipu told us that the campground owner had taken a picture of the orcas eye and sent it to someone who deals with marine mammals.  They had identified the whale, and said that it was very old and had likely died of old age.  I had guessed that the really bad storms we’d been having had caused it to be washed ashore.

Orca on Whatipu Beach
Orca on Whatipu Beach

The golden hour arrived, and everything looked even more beautiful on our walk back to the carpark.

Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach

Enjoy the full gallery of 29 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Ambury, the petting zoo Regional Park

Ambury Regional Park is one of the more farm-focused parks in Auckland, and definitely the most kid-focused – part of it is a petting zoo!  It also offers plenty of space for family gatherings and BBQs.  The 45 minute Foreshore Walk is pleasant enough, and offers some nice perspectives on the Manukau Harbor and surrounding areas.  Opportunities for hiking in the park are limited, but the 7km Watercare Coastal Walkway connects Ambury Park with Puketutu Island and Otuataua Stonefields, and connects with the Mangere Lagoon Loop, and offers various diversions through other green spaces in the area.

Manukau Harbor from the Foreshore Walk
Manukau Harbor from the Foreshore Walk

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!

Sheep near the start of the Foreshore Walk ignoring the view of One Tree Hill over the Manukau Harbor
Sheep near the start of the Foreshore Walk ignoring the view of One Tree Hill over the Manukau Harbor

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.

Mangere Mountain
Mangere Mountain

Black volcanic rock is a feature of the landscape of Ambury Park.

Foreshore Walk
Foreshore Walk

Another feature is small lava caves.

Lava cave
Lava cave

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.

Shelter on Foreshore Walk
Shelter on Foreshore Walk

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.

Chicken family
Chicken family

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.

Bengal cat?
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.

Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park
Animal residents of Ambury Park

You can view the full gallery of 20 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Cornwallis

Cornwallis is a peninsula (and a Regional Park) in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, next to Huia, on the Manukau Harbor (view on Google Maps).

Cornwallis Warf
Cornwallis Warf

I chose the Jubilee Walk, which takes in Cornwallis Beach and Cornwallis Wharf, but there is surely more in the area worth exploring.  I can’t recommend the Jubilee Walk as a loop, because the road part is dry and dusty and busy with traffic, but the bush part of it is nice enough, although pretty short.  Park in the first carpark you see on Pine Avenue – there are signs for the Jubilee Walk.  Park on the right side of the road, and take the track that way.

Jubilee Walk
Jubilee Walk

You’ll soon arrive at Cornwallis Beach, which was the highlight of my visit.

Cornwallis Beach
Cornwallis Beach

It’s a long beach, with plenty of grass and picnic areas along its length.

Cornwallis Beach from Cornwallis Wharf
Cornwallis Beach from Cornwallis Wharf

Maui dolphin have been spotted at Cornwallis Beach, but I wasn’t so lucky.

Cornwallis Wharf
Cornwallis Wharf

From some points along the beach you can see McLachlan Monument.  Monument Track may be a nice walk, certainly a nice climb, sure to offer some great views.

McLachlan Monument
McLachlan Monument

Once I got a look at a map near the beach I got a better idea of what the area and the various tracks offer.

Map of Cornwallis
Map of Cornwallis

In retrospect I should have gone and done the Kakamatua Beach Walk, and gotten a look at another Cornwallis area beach.  But instead I went and had a look at the view from Huia Point Lookout.  It’s well worth a stop if you’re in the area.

Manukau Heads, the opening of Manukau Harbor, Whatipu, and Huia, from Huia Point Lookout
Manukau Heads, the opening of Manukau Harbor, Whatipu, and Huia, from Huia Point Lookout

Huia Beach was another worthwhile stop.

Huia Beach
Huia Beach

You can view the full gallery of 23 pictures below.  There may be some minor problems with the gallery below, but as always you can view all of the pictures on imgur (click here).