Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

In which Miles visits Tawharanui Open Sanctuary for the birds, but gets drawn in by the beautiful coastline and white sand beaches.

Unfortunately WordPress is growing increasingly unresponsive when I try to work with a lot of images in the default photo gallery.  I’m going to make them available on imgur only until I find a solution to the problem.  To view the full gallery of 45 pictures on imgur, click here.

As I mentioned previously, several people I spoke with at Shakespear Park recommended Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.  It’s about an hour north of Shakespear Park, and well worth the drive.  I like to wake up knowing my outdoor plans for the day, and I was confident that I was going to enjoy Tawharanui.

I explored the walking track options before arriving.  The Mystery Walk sounded interesting, but I was told to “Be sure to grab a brochure from either the ranger station or the sanctuary hut located just south of Anchor Bay to do this walk”.  The ranger wasn’t in when I arrived, I never located the sanctuary hut, and in any case I had already mostly decided that the Ecology Walk would be a better  first walk at Tawharanui.

I went for the birds, but I was instantly taken with the coastline.  A view of the white sand beaches of Omaha Bay and Anchor Bay greeted me about 30 seconds from the car park

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The cliffs were riddled with caves.  They all looked like bad places to be when the tide came in.

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I followed the coastline for a while, until walking began to turn into climbing.  When an opportunity presented itself, I headed back inland to try to pick up the Ecology Trail.  The Ecology Trail headed through some bush, with lush native vegetation and for the more fortunate, or more observant, native birds.  I was even alerted to the presence of a kaka 50 meters up the trail, but in spite of that friendly heads-up I didn’t see it.

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The Ecology Trail exits the bush to another view of Omaha Bay.

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Approaching this beach, I heard faint, strange, haunting sounds coming from the cliffs.

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As I got closer I became sure that I was really hearing something, and followed it around the cliff on the right.  The sound became louder, and when I rounded the bend it became clear that the sound of a colony of birds had been bouncing off the rocks along the shore, nearly obscured by the sound of the waves.

A fellow hiker at Shakespear Park the day before had told me about the speakers on the cliffs of that park, and that at times they played the sounds of a breeding colony to attract the type of birds they want to draw to the park.  I don’t know what kind of happy bird sounds they were playing at Tawharanui.

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From there I followed the coast toward the beaches I had left to join the Ecology Trail.  As it turned out, by starting out along the coast, I had started out walking the Ecology Trail in reverse.  Returning along the coast made the end of the walk more exciting.  Although the bits of climbing I had to do were accomplished with one hand, the dark clouds coming in off the water added another element of adventure.  In places the waves seemed to be on the verge of cutting off my access, but then they had seemed to be doing that when I was coming the other way too, a couple of hours earlier.

Below are some views of the coast of Omaha Bay, from the Ecology Trail.  I found the stone arch particularly photogenic.

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It had started to rain by the time I reached the part of the coastline I had walked before.  The birds came out to watch the rain come in.  Below is a small group of cormorants, or shags.

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The oyster catchers below seemed to be trying to intimidate several dotterels, but the dotterels didn’t seem to be having it.

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Dotterels are an endangered bird that they’re happy to have at Shakespear Park and at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.

For more information on Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, visit the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary website, or the Auckland Council website.

To view the full gallery of 45 pictures on imgur, click here.

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