Mangere Mountain is one of the largest volcanic cones in the Auckland volcanic field, with a peak 106 meters above sea level. It was the site of a major pā (Māori fortified village), and you can still see a lot of the earthworks there today.
It is a prominent landmark in south Auckland, and I had been visiting places in that area recently, so I decided to check out Mangere Mountain up close.
This is one of those places that panoramas are made for. We parked at the Onehunga Mangere Soccer & Softball Club and walked up the cone in a clockwise direction.
I haven’t personally ever heard Auckland referred to as “The Big Smoke”. But over the course of last summer, traveling around the South Island, I got to hear a lot of what kiwis outside of Auckland think about New Zealand‘s largest city.
A while back I was having drinks with a native Aucklander who was having endless fun with all of the many easily ridiculed aspects of the USA – easier than usual after the 2016 elections. Eventually I reminded him that the term “JAFA” is used in the rest of New Zealand to mean both “Just Another F*cking American” and “Just Another F*cking Aucklander” …that for the rest of New Zealand, Aucklanders and Americans are kind of in the same category. His response was a surprised “You get that!”
Guide books more or less advise tourists to sleep off the jet lag, buy any needed supplies, and head out of Auckland. But Auckland is part of New Zealand, and it is highly underrated.
In Defense of Auckland
I don’t really want to get into the list of negatives attributed to Auckland, or even to defend Auckland from those claims. Fortunately, I’m able to link to a blog post that does that beautifully. It is better in many ways than anything I could have written. It offers a native’s perspective* on the debate, and offers insight on how taboo it is to say anything positive about Auckland, among kiwis outside of Auckland. Consensus is enforced by browbeating on a number of topics in New Zealand, and this article offers some insight into this aspect of kiwi culture.
Most importantly, the link above tells us in detail what non-Aucklanders think of Auckland, and does a good job of setting the record straight.
I couldn’t have said it better. But maybe I can add something to it.
It is important to point out that Auckland is the name for both a citywith a population of 1,454,300, which constitutes 32 percent of New Zealand’s population, and one of the sixteen regions of New Zealand, with by far the biggest population and economy of any region of New Zealand, but the second-smallest land area.
I have never heard anyone mention this distinction though. For Aucklanders, other kiwis, tourists… for everyone I’ve ever met… Auckland is Auckland.
Both city and region are governed by the Auckland Council, which began operating on 1 November 2010, combining the functions of the previous regional council and the region’s seven city and district councils into one “super council” governing a “super city”. This is probably the most important blurring of any remaining distinctions between city and region.
Auckland is about the size of The Greater Los Angeles Area, with fewer than 2 million people.
What Else Is Auckland?
Auckland is New Zealand – a place of awesome natural beauty.
Auckland is the mountains and bush of the Hunua Ranges in the east.
In the past 2 years I’ve taken you to almost all of Auckland’s 34 Regional Parks, and I’ve recently created a page to help you navigate my many posts about those parks. Follow the link above for 34 beautiful things that Auckland is.
There are few things I’ve enjoyed more than the North Shore Coastal Walk, with its rock shelves and tree-lined cliffs and constant changing views of Rangitoto Island.
Rangitoto Island is not just a nice bit of scenery visible from Auckland, Rangitoto Island is Auckland! Rangitoto is a beautiful place to visit, and returns the favor by offering fantastic views of the city.
Auckland may not have the wildlife that the South Island has. But it does have a great array of New Zealand’s native birds.
And naturalized birds as well.
I did meet a young seal on the coast below JFK Park.
There is a lone leopard seal that has moved into Auckland’s harbor. She’s been here since at least June of 2015.
I’ve been trying to get a look at this seal, but haven’t had any luck so far.
It Gets Better
I can’t really finish what I set out to do with this post, at this time – because it is possible, even likely, that I haven’t yet seen the best that Auckland has to offer. I plan to remedy that in 2017.
I’ve booked 2 nights on Tiritiri Matangi Island, with its abundance of threatened and endangered birds and reptiles. I look forward to the dawn chorus of native birds, and with a little luck I might get to meet little spotted kiwi, little blue penguins, tuatara, and other rare wildlife.
I hope to visit Kawau Island, with its four species of wallaby.
Wallaby are tenacious pests that do extensive damage to Kawau Island, but before they are eradicated, I want to see kangaroos in Auckland. Of course Kawau Island offers a lot of native, less destructive reasons to visitas well.
I’ll post soon about my recent visit to Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto is one huge pohutukawa forest, so I may decide to go back very soon to see them all in bloom.
Whakanewha is the only regional park I haven’t posted about, and it is located on Waiheke Island. Sculpture on the Gulf is coming up, from January 26 through February 19. There are many other places I need to visit on Waiheke as well.
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.
You’ll soon arrive at Cornwallis Beach, which was the highlight of my visit.
It’s a long beach, with plenty of grass and picnic areas along its length.
Maui dolphin have been spotted at Cornwallis Beach, but I wasn’t so lucky.
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.
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.
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.
Huia Beach was another worthwhile stop.
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).
Steppin' the miles, enjoying the view, bringing it all to you.