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.
I had hoped to spend a week or two getting to know Waiheke Island, but the timing wasn’t right, so we took the ferry out to Waiheke for the day just to enjoy the sculpture walk.
Part of the exhibition was visible from the ferry, on the headland at Matiatia Bay, not far from where the ferry docks.
We caught the shuttle to the start of the walk, which returns to Matiatia Wharf. The route was the same as 2 years ago. I guess it probably always has been the same, but I didn’t recognize it before this year.
The great thing about Sculpture on the Gulf is walking and enjoying art in that great setting. The coast of Waiheke offers views across Hauraki Gulf to Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands, central Auckland and the Sky Tower (the latter not visible in the picture below).
Boats have a special significance to Pacific Island cultures, including Maori. They show up in a lot of New Zealand art.
New Zealand law insures public access to the foreshore. That’s just the land that is underwater at the highest tide , but fortunately tracks along the coast above the waterline seem to be the norm. You see some impressive lawns along the walk, and in many cases you can’t see a house. A line between stakes indicates the boundary of the walkway (see the header image at the very top of the page).
The Headland Sculpture Walk follows a generous strip of land along the coast, but the headland itself is the largest open public space.
Two years ago I attended the last day of the sculpture walk, and went to the Lantern Festival the following weekend. This year the Sculpture Walk ended the weekend after the Lantern Festival. This may be due to the latter being scheduled on the lunar calendar – I’m not really sure.
This summer, as every scheduled event approached, I watched the weather, hoping it would clear. We went to Waiheke on Sunday, the last day of the Sculpture Walk. Fortunately we got a day without rain. The walk was closed for a few days earlier due to the wet and unsafe conditions.
Part of the sky, at least, was blue by mid-afternoon, and it got hot and sunny… and humid.
Signs warn visitors to take it slow as the trail gets a bit steep in places as it leaves the headland and follows the coast of Matiatia Bay back to the wharf.
We had parked in Devonport to take advantage of the late ferries and spend as much time as possible on Waiheke Island. When we got back to Matiatia Wharf we caught a bus into Oneroa and had dinner on Oneroa Beach, enjoying the view of Oneroa Bay.
After dinner we strolled along the beach. As always the landscape was even more photogenic during the golden hour before sunset.
It was a long day, but a good one. We caught the bus back to Matiatia Wharf, then the ferry to Auckland, and finally one more ferry to Devonport.
Please enjoy the full gallery of 39 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
At the east end of St Heliers Beach are the remnants of some structure that appear to have been stairs up to the rock shelf. Climbing up was just a bit tricky, with some holes that probably once held posts offering footholds to supplement what nature provided.
The high rock shelf, along with the cliffs and the view of Rangitoto Island, looks like everything I love about walking the foreshore. In the distance you can see the walkway down to Ladies Bay Beach.
This is the most dangerous part of the walk. I started about 3 hours before low tide. Closer to low tide maybe that I could have walked along the shore below these rocks, but I had some distance to cover and a window of maybe 6 hours, so I pressed on.
Before I continue, a warning about walking the foreshore:
Do you know the sound of thunder, Dear Reader?
Can you imagine that sound if I ask you to?
I have warned more than one companion that the conditions on the foreshore can be extremely slippery (and dangerous in other ways as well) moments before they hit the ground, hard.
But I didn’t say it in thunder.
Dear Reader, listen to the thunder.
Be very careful when walking the foreshore!
Note that this most treacherous part of this walk is easily avoided by walking up Cliff Road from St Heliers, and then down the paved path to Ladies Bay.
It seems clear that there was once a series of bridges allowing visitors to walk from St Heliers Beach to Ladies Bay Beach along the shore, probably even at high tide. Each broken bridge now marks the site of some especially challenging terrain to cross.
There is challenging terrain not marked by the remains of bridges as well. It’s a short walk from St Heliers Beach to Ladies Bay Beach, but the going is slow.
It didn’t yet know what lay around the corner, but at this point my way forward was clear.
It is an un-researched theory of mine that that the foreshore walkway was has not been maintained to make it harder for the uninformed to accidentally wonder from St Heliers Beach onto Ladies Bay Beach. Auckland Council makes it clear that there are no clothing optional beaches in Auckland, but Ladies Bay Beach is known as one all the same.
As you can see below, there was no nudity on Ladies Bay Beach on the day I visited. But that may be because police activity near the beach has pushed that demographic around the point to the much longer beach at Gentlemens Bay.
A simple Google search offers lots of interesting reading on the reputation of Ladies Bay Beach, and on nude beaches in Auckland.
Just around Achilles Point, the long beach at Gentlemens Bay offers a feeling of seclusion, at least for a short while.
A little further along I chose a fallen tree at the back of the beach and sat down to have lunch. It was near a ladder that apparently provides access to the beach. I’d guess it leads up to Glover Park.
I didn’t realize at the time that I had stopped just before a very nude, very gay stretch of Gentlemens Bay Beach. As I got out my sandwich and apple (actual lunch items, not slang terms for something else), I had a conversation that I could have done without. During my lunch nude men strolled past. A few clothed men ascended and descended the ladder.
I walked the rest of Gentlemens Bay out at the edge of the tide, with the shellfish, to avoid similar encounters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Around the next point is Karaka Bay.
Although the public is allowed access to the foreshore throughout New Zealand, some parts of the coast are just difficult enough to reach that they seem to be sort of semi-private beaches for the use of residents of the houses along the shore. A small group of houses line the shore of Karaka Bay here, and their rowboats wait inverted at the back of the beach.
The foreshore always has interesting rock formations.
This part of the coast is close to Browns Island, and also to the ferries coming and going from Half Moon Bay.
By this point there is mud on top of the rock shelf even near to the shore.
The green grass of Roberta Reserve offers a nice break from an especially muddy part of the coast.
Across a stream lined with mangroves lies the Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve, and I was back on the beach.
Here’s a nice view of Browns Island over the low-tide mudflats from Sandspit Beach.
The Spit extends most of the way across Half Moon Bay, and it looks like you could walk most of it at low tide. Check it out on Google Earth.
But it got really windy at this point, as I suspect it often does, so I just rounded the point and headed south.
It soon got muddy again, so I took the path through Tahuna Torea and crossed the road to Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve.
I struck out along the coast, but I only got a short distance before I was forced to turn inland.
It was a very inviting ascent, and I discovered a path half-way up the hill, before the back yards of the houses visible above.
I’m not sure how open fields make a nature reserve, but that’s what most of Wai O Taiki Nature Reserve seems to be. This made it easy to see the path following the coast ahead.
Mount Maunganui rises in the distance over the pastures of this reserve, and of Point England.
Point England is also mostly open pastures. A couple I spoke with said that these fields were a habitat for the endangered New Zealand dotterel.
Point England has beaches also, so I was able to get back to the foreshore.
On the beaches of Point England I had my unexpected wildlife encounter of the walk – a group of royal spoonbill. These are more common on the south island.
During breeding season these birds get really interesting haircuts to impress the ladies.
I got too close, and they flew away.
I could see on Google Maps that a strip of grass extends south of Point England along the coast, so I decided to keep walking. It starts as a narrow strip of grass between the coast and backyard fences, then gets wider, with a path and some picnic tables. I came to a boat ramp, so I went back down to walk just a bit more of the muddy foreshore. This area is called Tamaki, and the water is still part of Tamaki Strait.
I reached Mount Wellington War Memorial Reserve, and decided to call it a wrap. I consulted Google Maps again, and caught a bus back to the ferry building.
There are hazards of a diverse and sometimes homoerotic nature on this part of Auckland’s coast, and lots of mud, but this is a good walk all the same.
You can view the full gallery of 51 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.
Tamaki Drive Walk is a city walk, but it’s a beautiful one, and there is always a great view – this walk is one long, continuous, uninterrupted view. A paved walkway follows the coast of Waitemata Harbor and Tamaki Strait with views of Devonport and Rangitoto, Motutapu, Browns and Motuihe islands.
This walk looks great in panoramas. I haven’t included all of my Tamaki Drive panoramas in this post, but be sure to check them out in the full gallery of 32 pictures below To view on imgur click here.
I started this walk on my way to Orakei Basin, leaving Tamaki Drive at the point of the panorama above, and the photo below. Today I would continue along Tamaki Drive.
I had ridden a bicycle along Tamaki Drive from the ferry building to Mission Bay many times when I lived in Auckland about ten years ago, but I had never walked it. I planned to revisit the Point to Point Walk and try to make it from St Heliers to Point England along the foreshore at low tide, but this day was not the day for that adventure. I decided to spend this day walking from the Auckland Ferry building to St Helliers, and to continue from there to Point England at a later date.
Just past Orakei Marina is Okahu Bay and it’s beach, the first chance to get off the sidewalk and walk on a beach. I took it. I’m not sure I had ever walked on this beach before in spite of cycling past many times.
Just past Kelly Tarlton’s and the Okahu Functions and Events building is a long pier that offers a nice walk and great views of Orakei Marina and the whole area.
It had probably been a decade since I enjoyed a walk on this pier.
You pass this impressive old lighthouse on the ferry to Rangitoto Island. Below is the view from Tamaki Drive.
And here is a better view from the ferry, shot at a later date. Kohimarama is visible in the background, St Heliers is to the left of frame.
The Tamaki Yacht Club inhabits the next point.
Next stop, Mission Bay! But first a couple of wildlife encounters. It isn’t remarkable to see either of these birds along the coast, but I wasn’t expecting it.
Mission Bay has a great beach, and Tamaki Drive at this point is lined with some good pubs and restaurants, some with nice harbor views.
Tamaki Drive moves away from the coast to accommodate a nice green space. At the center is the Mission Bay Fountain.
As always on the east coast, Rangitoto!
A short walk from Mission Bay brings you to Kohimarama Beach.
Just around the next point is St Heliers Beach.
At the opposite end of St Heliers Beach you can see Achilles Point, the start of my day on the Point to Point Walkway. In my next post I’ll take you from Achilles Point to Point England and beyond, this time right on the shore at low tide!
You can view the full gallery of 32 pictures below To view on imgur click here.
I didn’t feel like traveling far, and the tides weren’t right to explore more of the coast, so I decided to visit Chelsea Estate Heritage Park.
The sign shown above provides a map, shown below. This is a pretty good indication of what Chelsea Estate Heritage Park has to offer.
This is a small park, and much of it serves to provide walking access between neighborhoods. It does offer nice views of the harbor, and the Harbor Bridge, and there is a bit of bush to walk in as well. And of course there is the Chelsea Sugar Factory.
I think I was told some time ago that very large eels live in the ponds near the sugar factory. I didn’t see any, but I didn’t take the time to look closely.
I was about to walk on of the bushier trails in the park when I got a text. A couple of hard-working friends from Thailand had decided to go for a walk on this beautiful day, but had found only concrete jungle, and were requesting help. For one of them, it would be the first time visiting a beach in New Zealand, so I took them to Cheltenham Beach, and we climbed up onto Northhead. Later we took in the view on Mount Victoria.
I haven’t found anything in Auckland that I’ve enjoyed as much as walking the coast, especially the part of the east coast that makes up the North Shore Coastal Walk.
In a recent exciting episode I spent a second day walking the North Shore Coastal Walk starting at Castor Bay and continuing to Narrow Neck Beach, and almost to Cheltenham Beach, before finding that the tide was too high to continue along the coast.
I had another look at the map, and realized that there was a fair bit of coast yet to walk from Narrow Neck around the point to Cheltenham Beach, and around North Head, so I decided to try it again at low tide.
You can view the full gallery of 45 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
It was a beautiful day, and the cliffs south of Narrow Neck offered lots of photo opportunities.
At the point where I had turned back last time the water was still a bit too high to walk through without getting my shoes completely wet. I had started about an hour before low tide, so I decide to wait. A woman and her son came by, and she told me that the tide was high, and wouldn’t be low for another 6 hours. She was exactly wrong, but the boy continued and she followed, inspiring me to do the same. The water had receded significantly in the 10-20 minutes that I had waited.
I really love the rock formations like this that are found all along the coast of the north shore.
Cheltenham Beach is beautiful, as is Northhead.
I had explored Northhead previously, but I had started near the top, and it is so steep that I avoided walking too far downhill. I didn’t realize that gun emplacements and access extend all the way to the coast.
I like these stairs up.
This cool walkway hugs the cliffs taking you right around the point.
After central Auckland comes into view the walkway appears to go underground, although closer inspection shows that you can unlatch a gate and go “offroad” for a short distance.
Tunnels connect a couple of gun emplacements and various storage areas for ammo and such, and a set of stairs that emerge higher on Northhead. I explored a bit, then went back to follow the coast.
A short walk on the rock shelf brings you to Torpedo Bay, with Torpedo Bay Navy Museum and a small cafe with a great view. Then you’re back on Kind Edward Parade walking toward the Devonport Ferry enjoying views of Central Auckland.
It was far too nice a day to stop. I had been told that it was possible to walk around Stanley Point, so I kept going.
New Zealand’s Navy is a very small one, but I decided to go around the navy base rather than fight my way through. Steps near the main gate take you a block up the hill, and several blocks take you past the whole base to Stanley Bay.
It was about 40 minutes after low tide. The water was a long way out at Stanley Bay, as you can see above, but as I walked around the point and the Harbor Bridge came into view the shore became rocky and narrow.
Climbing began to be necessary. I almost turned back at one point, but after a closer look decided to walk along a narrow shelf with a low overhang. The waves lapped at the rock shelf below, and in a short time would put it underwater. My backpack scraped the rock above me, but I made it through. The picture below looks back at what is probably the most treacherous part of any of my coastal walks – although falling may have only meant a wet camera and a cold swim.
The coast changes here. At high tide it maybe not be possible to walk the coast here, but shortly after low tide there was lots of space to walk, although the rock shelf turns to mud as you continue into Ngataringa Bay. There are docks along the coast here with walkways up to to homes atop the cliffs.
It was somewhat tempting to head out across the bay, but I wasn’t at all interested in getting even ankle deep into mud, and a mud-flat walk did not sound nearly as appealing as a coastal walk.
There was a rock shelf for a short distance.
And then there was mud.
I reached Ngataringa Bay Sports Fields to discover that they are Navy property, and have the same signs warning civilians to keep out. With no option for continuing along the coast except the mud, I decided to call it a day, and cut back across the peninsula via Stanley Bay Park.
This is another great walk along the coast of Auckland’s North Shore. From here however, the Ngataringa Bay coast seems to be the muddy domain of mangrove trees, and Shoal Bay seems the same. And yet there are beautiful spots like Marine Parade Reserve and Lansdown Reserve, so I’ll just have to continue to explore this coast to see what it has to offer.
You can view the full gallery of 45 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
You can view the full gallery of 21 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
Orakei Basin is one of the volcanoes in the Auckland Volcanic Field. It has an explosion crater around 700 m wide, with a surrounding tuff ring. After eruption about 85,000 yrs ago, it became a freshwater lake that had an overflow stream in the vicinity of present Orakei Rd bridge. As sea level rose after the end of the Last Ice Age, the lake, which by then had shallowed to a swamp, was breached by the sea and has been a tidal lagoon ever since. A tidal lagoon, it is popular for watersports. A railway line (the North Island Main Trunk, branded as the Eastern Line for suburban services) runs through the north side of the basin.
Parking in the city can be not so fun, so I took the ferry in from the North Shore. There is a train station very near Orakei Basin, but it was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk there along Tamaki Drive. The Tamaki Drive Walk is a great coastal walk; I’ve done it many times on a bike.
This is downtown Auckland. I was immediately reminded of the advantages of weekday walks in remote regional parks far from the city center where you encounter no people. But Tamaki Drive does offer some pretty great scenery.
After leaving Tamaki Drive the road climbs enough to offer views of Auckland over Hobson Bay. There is no crosswalk near the intersection with Ngapipi Road, so you get to play Frogger to get across.
I got onto the walkway from Orakei Road, and chose to walk in a clockwise direction, starting by crossing the boardwalk along the north side of the basin next to the railway line.
A bench at the east end of the boardwalk, looking back over the basin toward the city center, was a nice spot for a break.
Continuing clockwise there’s a cool curvy bridge over an arm of the basin.
A group of cormorants (shags) complimented the scenery at the northern end of the bridge.
After crossing the bridge and getting back to the shore, the path follows the shore through the Orakei Basin West Reserve, which also lines the whole southern edge of the basin.
The sun was setting in the west, as it does, and shining some its best light on the eastern edge of the basin. The rest of the walk is green like this, with views over the basin the whole way.
I skipped the walk back, and caught the train to central Auckland from Orakei Station. Britomart station is right across the street from the ferry terminal.
I’ve never met anyone has gotten tired of ferry trips on Waitamata Harbor, even if they do it daily as a commute.
You can view the full gallery of 21 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.