Tag Archives: Waitakere Ranges

Mangere Mountain

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 (Māori fortified village), and you can still see a lot of the earthworks there today.

Mangere Mountain from Ambury Regional Park
Mangere Mountain from Ambury Regional Park

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.

Mangere Mountain from near the Onehunga Mangere Soccer & Softball Club
Mangere Mountain from near the Onehunga Mangere Soccer & Softball Club

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.

Mangere Mountain
Mangere Mountain

A view of Puketutu Island opens up as you reach the western rim.

Puketutu Island
Puketutu Island

In the saddle between the two highest points you get a wider view of the Manukau Harbour that takes in Otuataua Stonefields, Puketutu Island, Awhitu Peninsula, Manukau Heads, the Waitakere Ranges, and Ambury Regional Park.

Manukau harbor from Mangere mountain
Manukau harbor from Mangere mountain
Details on the view above - Mangere Mountain
Details on the view above

The top also offers a good view of the cone, and what I assume is the plug.  Correction – that’s a lava dome, something that no other Auckland volcanoes have.

The large crater from the north rim
The large crater from the north rim

In the other direction you have great views over Manukau Harbor to the Mangere Bridge and central Auckland.

Mangere Bridge and central Auckland
Mangere Bridge and central Auckland

That view includes Mount Eden, the Sky Tower and One Tree Hill.

Mount Eden, Sky Tower and One Tree Hill
Mount Eden, Sky Tower and One Tree Hill

The perspective on the cone itself changed as we continued walking in a clockwise direction around the rim.

Crater of Mangere Mountain
Crater of Mangere Mountain

We continued clockwise around the smaller crater.

The smaller crater on Mangere Mountain
The smaller crater on Mangere Mountain

Soon after that we completed the circle, and returned to the carpark.

Mangere Mountain, in Mangere Domain, is a small park with the terrain for good short walk with a bit of climbing and some great views of Auckland.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

The Big Smoke

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.

Harbor Bridge and Sky Tower
Harbor Bridge and Sky Tower from Birkenhead Warf

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.

Central Auckland at night
Central Auckland at night from Bayswater Marina

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.

* (Correction!  StoriesThatAreTrue is a travel blog written by Gemma Tarlach, an author (and much more) from the USA.)

Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach
Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach

More Than Just a City

It is important to point out that Auckland is the name for both a city with 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.

Rangitoto Island and the Sky Tower from the Waitakere Ranges
Rangitoto Island and the Sky Tower from the Waitakere Ranges

What Else Is Auckland?

Auckland is New Zealand – a place of awesome natural beauty.

Auckland is Piha.

Lion Rock, Piha Beach, Te Waha Point in the distance
Lion Rock, Piha Beach, Te Waha Point in the distance

Auckland is also Whatipu.

Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach

Auckland is all of the other great west coast Tasman Sea beaches well.

O'Neill Beach and Bethell's Beach
O’Neill Beach and Bethell’s Beach

Auckland is Tawharanui.

Tawharanui Open Sanctuary
Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

Auckland is all of the east coast, Pacific Ocean and Hauraki Gulf beaches, like Pakiri Beach in the north.

Pakiri Beach
Pakiri Beach

Auckland is Tawhitokino Beach on the southeast coast.

Tawhitokino Beach
Tawhitokino Beach

Auckland is the forests and mountains of the Waitakere Ranges in the west.

Waitakere Dam
Waitakere Dam

Auckland is the mountains and bush of the Hunua Ranges in the east.

Cosseys Reservoir in the Hunua Ranges
Cosseys Reservoir in the Hunua Ranges

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.

Browns Bay, Auckland
Browns Bay, Auckland

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.

Devonport, CBD and Harbor Bridge from Rangitoto Island
Devonport, CBD and Harbor Bridge from Rangitoto Island

Auckland is Waiheke Island.

Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island
Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island

Because Auckland is also a large city you get interesting cultural events in beautiful natural settings, like Sculpture on the Gulf on Waiheke Island.

Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island
Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island

Because Auckland is a very diverse city it offers events like the Lantern Festival, one of many opportunities to enjoy Chinese culture in New Zealand.

Auckland Lantern Festival
Auckland Lantern Festival

Many ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland, making it by far the country’s most cosmopolitan city. Europeans make up the majority of Auckland’s population, however substantial numbers of Māori, Pacific Islander and Asian peoples exist as well. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
Wikipedia

I haven’t been to Auckland’s Pasifika Festival.  I’ll try to remedy that in 2017.

Cook Island dancers at Auckland's Pasifica Festival
Cook Island dancers at Auckland’s Pasifica Festival – from Wikimedia Commons

Auckland has the spectacular Auckland Civic Theatre.  I’ll have to remember to post about this awesome place.

The Civic
The Civic

Auckland may not have the wildlife that the South Island has.  But it does have a great array of New Zealand’s native birds.

Tui
Tui

And naturalized birds as well.

Eastern rosella
Eastern rosella

I did meet a young seal on the coast below JFK Park.

Seal
Seal

There is a lone leopard seal that has moved into Auckland’s harbor.  She’s been here since at least June of 2015.

Leopard seal - from Wikimedia Commons
Leopard seal – from Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been trying to get a look at this seal, but haven’t had any luck so far.

DOC notice about Auckland's leopard seal
DOC notice about Auckland’s leopard seal

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.

Little blue penguin - from tiritirimatangi.org.nz
Little blue penguins – from tiritirimatangi.org.nz

I hope to visit Kawau Island, with its four species of wallaby.

Dama wallaby - from Wikimedia Commons
Dama wallaby – from Wikimedia Commons

And kookaburra!

Kookaburra - from kawauisland.org.nz
Kookaburra – from kawauisland.org.nz

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 visit as 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.

Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island

I want to make it out to Great Barrier Island and ideally spend a couple of weeks there.

A view over the eastern coast of Great Barrier Island, from a ridge line in the center of the island
A view over the eastern coast of Great Barrier Island, from a ridge line in the center of the island – from Wikimedia Commons

Whakanewha is the only regional park I haven’t posted about, and it is located on Waiheke IslandSculpture 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.

The Hauraki Gulf has over 50 islands, and I plan to visit a number of others that I haven’t mentioned above.

By the middle of 2017 I hope to be a much greater authority on Auckland, and in a greatly improved position to show you what is really great about The Big Smoke!

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).