Saturday, May 05, 2007

Panmure & Van Damm's Lagoons - 5th May 2007

Yesterday Nickname Pending picked the walk and we drove east-ish to the carpark on Lagoon Drive, opposite the Y-Sports Stadium. From there we headed right, around the lagoon - past the skate park (in much use), the hydroslides from the nearby Aquatic Centre, following the fitness trail.

I initially thought this wouldn't be a very long walk - the path around the lagoon is largely wide and flat and you could easily bike around it or push a stroller. Roller skates would be a bit challenging towards the end when there is some up, but otherwise it would be a good skate too.

There was a surprisingly large amount of bird life - gulls, grey herons, cormorants, stilts, tui, kingfisher, sparrows, thrush, blackbirds, and no doubt some I've forgotten. We saw a kingfisher pluck a crab from the mud (tide was out) and fly up to a try to crunch it up - then we noticed that the mud was teeming with the little crustaceans. They would stop moving whenever we tried to look closer, and had an annoying tendency to scurry around right at the periphery of your vision.

About a third of the way around the lagoon we got the to the Panmure Sailing Club and Nickname Pending decided it was time for a little surprise addition to our walk. We headed up a path to Ireland Rd, and proceeded along the street towards Waipuna Rd. At one point we delved into the imaginatively named Ireland Rd Treegrove, but this didn't afford the short cut NP was searching for, backing instead onto the railway line. So we headed back to the road, turned right at the end onto Waipuna, then right again onto the Mt Wellington Highway. We walked up this a fair way, past Coromandel Cacti, and ended up outside the carpark for Van Damm's Lagoon.

The sign and everything else put up by the council spells it Van Damm, but there's a plaque there from the local historic society which adds and e on the end. I'm going with the council 'cos surely they couldn't be that wrong?

This fresh water lagoon is artificial, built up from a local fresh water spring by the eponymous local who wanted to build a nature reserve for local bird-life. When the tannery between there and the Panmure Lagoon was shut down they gave some more land to the endeavour and eventually it came into council hands.

There are pretty little waterfalls at the start of the walk, and on the day we went it was very swampy. Parts of the path around the waterways and lagoon were boggy and flooded, but it was still interesting despite the mud. Quite an oasis in what is still a reasonably busy industrial area.

While the only bird life we saw was of the duck variety, there was a wide range of flora, including both natives and exotic. There was a very impressive (as in tall) stand of bamboo at one end the lagoon, which you reached by going under a massive concrete pipe.

Much of the path has been done up and there are signs that this work is still underway - new handrails in one area, freshly cut stone in another. I'd hate to go there at a time of year, or a time of day, when there would be a lot of insect life though - clearly a paradise for mosquitos and others who go the water larvae route.

Then it was back out onto the Mt Wellington Highway, right along the Ellerslie Panmure Highway, and back down Ireland Rd to get back onto the path around the Panmure Basin. The exhaust fumes were really noticeable after even a short break away from the street.

We took up close to where we left off in our walk around the first lagoon, past mangroves, more mud flats and the buxus letters spelling out Panmure Basin on the lawn of Waipuna Lodge. Sadly the topiary letters are at just the wrong angle to really be able to read them unless you were above them by plane or helicopter.

Continuing on around the basin we came to the Auckland Model Engineers Society - they have a club house, a model boat pond, and an extensive small scale railway, complete with bridges, tunnels, stations, and the like. They weren't in action, but it looked like it would be fun to come back and watch, particularly with kids. Actually there were a lot of good things for children around the basin - in particular the fitness trail and two playgrounds (one of which, by the Sailing Club, looked really wonderful).

After all the flat, the slope up to the footbridge across the part of the lagoon where it meets the Tamaki River was a little bit of a surprise, but easily managed. The bridge itself is narrow and has a very low roof in the middle - tall people would have to be careful I suspect. We saw a decent sized fish jumping in the water below, as well as several cormorants diving for food.
Then it was down hill back to the carpark and the end. Two hours in total, but I stopped a lot for photos. I think you could easily walk around the Panmure Lagoon in half an hour or so.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Oakley Creek Walkway - 28th Apr 2007

Yesterday I decided to do a short walk not too far away, so I set off for Waterview. I parked down Cowley Ave, walked up Great North Rd a bit, and took the walkway across the road.

Then it was down, beneath the level of the road, and along the Oakley Creek Walkway. Billed in a City Council brochure as containing the isthmus' only natural waterfall, it's obviously undergoing significant renewal. This is good because the path and the park are in a parlous state at the moment, although the work already done is making a big difference. It will be a fantastic oasis when it's finished.

Most of the trees are exotic, but the planting programme appears to be largely native, so eventually there will be a good mix. The path kind of follows the creek - at parts it is quite a distance from it, but in general it winds back and forth across it via some pretty bridges.

The autumn trees were great, and there was some pretty cool moss and lichen, and even some actual mushrooms! I don't like to eat them, but I do like to snap them.

There are also some curious old walls throughout the park, possibly put in when Unitec was Carrington, and Carrington was a mental institution?

I wanted to do this walk because I was curious about the waterfall. You have to go down some stairs to get to it, and the flat area at the bottom of the fall looks very beaten up, but the waterfall itself has a surprising impact. The pics don't really capture it I'm afraid.

Above the waterfall there were ducks, and I did see a few other birds, but they were always flying away from me. A lot of people were using the path - walking, cycling, pushing strollers, exercising dogs. It'll be great when the path can sustain that use along its whole length.

Walking to the end and back would take around an hour. The concrete path is broken in parts, and narrow the whole way, but this is a very pretty and serene walk. It does need more signage though - there were a lot of paths off to the side, which I suspect joined up with Unitec of the housing on the road-side of the creek, but it wasn't clear, particularly at the end. I'm still not sure I walked the whole way.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

St Heliers to Roberta Reserve and return - 22nd Apr. 2007

Today we did the first and second legs of the Point to Point walk, having completed the third part many moons ago.

We started out on Cliff Rd in St Heliers, and walked up the road, with great views of Rangitoto, the Waitemata Harbour and back to the city.

We took the walkway down to Ladies Bay and walked along the coast to Karaka Bay. This took quite a while, and originally we had intended just to walk back up the Ladies Bay walkway

and continue along the track in the handy leaflet from Auckland City Council. But we just seemed to keep walking. Once we were out of Ladies Bay itself it was very noticeable that there weren't any other women, although there were a fair few naked men. Oh I tell a lie, there was one woman. She was posing for top-less soft porn shots. I guess that's what happens in a nudist area. I didn't mind the nudity, but I didn't much like the stares from all the men.

There was this weird thing in the water, all encrusted with shellfish, and fantastic views of Browns Island. I love the shape of Motukorea, it looks as if it were lovingly sculpted by hand. Nickname Pending pointed out that it is quite reminiscent of Mangere Mountain. Perhaps all denuded volcanoes look a bit similar?

Anyway, Karaka Bay was great - quite a surprise. There was no road access and although the houses were obviously valuable it looked like a hippy-ish kind of place. The Treaty of Waitangi was apparently signed there on 4th March 1840 and there is a little rest place with a plaque commemorating it.

At Karaka Bay we followed a path up to the road and then followed the streets around to Anderson Bay, where we took a track that wound behind the houses and right on the cliff edge, looking across the Tamaki to Musick Point and Bucklands Beach.

Then we were back on the road again, skirting Roberta Reserve (Tahuna Torea starts on the other side of it) where we stopped for a snack, before heading up through Glendowie Park. It's a strange place, the ground is very undulating, so it seems kind of useless for playing much. My theory is it used to be landfill and needs to subside more before it can be flattened off, but I really have no idea.

After Glendowie Park we went up and down a few more roads to get to the southern entrance to Churchill Park, which is quite extensive. We opted for the Lower Track, which followed a stream, rather than the Upper Track through farmland. There were a few Billy Goat Gruff bridges and a fair bit of bush, but the real highlight was peeping through the trees to the beautiful gardens created by those who owned the properties on the other side of the stream. They obviously worked together to create something out of a fairy story around the stream, and this photo doesn't do it justice at all.

We got a little bit lost at the end of Churchill Park but eventually found Glover Park, which is basically the crater of Whakamuhu with playing grounds in the middle. We walked up Waitara Rd and along the edge of the crater, looking back across the park to yet another water tower on the hills above St Heliers.
Then we took some more streets, heading west, until we ended up back on Cliff Rd again.

This walk took us 2 hours 20 minutes, with two snack stops and a lot of photo-induced slow going. The tracks were variable - at some points the road had no footpath, and I don't think you could realistically do this walk on wheels. The leaflet from Auckland City Council was kind of helpful. On the one hand I wouldn't have known about all these places without it, but on the other the scale was changeable and some of the streets you needed to go down weren't named on the map, created confusion. I'd suggest that ACC look at putting markers on the route, as there were none at all that were helpful, just the very rare Point England Walk map sign, which didn't really help at all, as it doesn't appear to be updated since they started calling it the Point to Point track and also lacked any labels on any roads or parks or indeed anything.

It was a very good walk though - a good mix of coast, cliff, interesting streets, park and bush, with a variety of inclines through-out. Great views all round, and some nice surprises too.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Rotary Walkway, Pakuranga - 6th Apr. 2007

Yesterday Nickname Pending and I headed east, to do the now completed Rotary Walkway that goes from Ohui-a-rangi (Pigeon Mountain) to the Rotary Reserve on the Pakuranga Highway opposite Pakuranga Plaza.

We parked on Galloway Crescent, by a little reserve at the back of Wakaaranga School, then walked down the road to one of the many pathways that join the walk. They are marked with these concrete stamps, which are also supposed to mark kilometres along the length of the walk itself, but seem to be placed somewhat irregularly.

We headed towards the Plaza first, although we didn't start right at the beginning of the walk. The pathway is largely concrete and wends its way pleasantly along the coast, with a few explanatory markers along the way. We walked up Wakaaranga Creek, which is covered in mangroves, spotting pukeko and grey herons along the way. A lot of the houses that back onto the creek pathway are rather flash, some with tennis courts and others with jetties that go out from the path. Once the creek meets the Tamaki River, you have a great view of Mt Wellington (my new nemesis now that Mt Eden is conquered) and the sandbar that forms part of the Tahuna Torea nature reserve. We walked past the Pakuranga Sailing Club and the reserve next to it. The tide was a long way out, as you can see from the pics, and it took us over an hour to get to the Pakuranga Plaza end of the walk. We turned around and came back, stopping in a bay to eat our packed lunch, and generally watched the windsurfers on the water and the families on the pathway. There were a lot of bikers, and they are supposed to give way to pedestrians. Most do.

Once we had walked all the way back to our starting point we headed further up the pathway towards Ohui-a-rangi and Pigeon Mountain Reserve. Manukau City Council has a plan to overhaul the reserve and has already done significant work on a wetlands area complete with boardwalk and many pukeko. It is wonderful spot even though it isn't complete yet.

I'd recommend if you do this walk give yourself about 2 and a half hours and start from one end or the other, not part way along like we did. It's pretty much flat and much of it could be done with a stroller too. It would also be a nice bike ride, particularly on a cold day, as the sun reflects off the water and parts of the walk that are sheltered from the wind were very warm, even on an autumn day.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mt Eden/Maungawhau - 31st Mar. 2007

In the past I've referred to Mt Eden/Maungawhau as my nemesis, in the walking dept, because I thought it would be pretty tough given how it has hulked in the background of views from many other peaks.

Actually it was pretty easy. We were looking for something close and not too long, because the weather looked dodgy, and Mt Eden fitted nicely.

We started out by parking at Takahi Reserve - the entrance is off Mt Eden Rd just after the driveway to the summit if you are heading towards the city. From the car we headed into the Reserve itself, admiring the stage and semi-natural amphitheatre, past the dog exercise area, until we realised we were heading the wrong way. Luckily we noticed a path up against the fenceline that was heading upwards, so we took that and emerged from the stairwell in an area remarkable for it's lumpy volcanic rubbish.

From there we crossed the road to the top and continued up the footpath, which later becomes an unformed track. Yes there's a lot of up, but it's quite gentle really. We walked around the crater and back down the other side of Maungawhau, then back down to the car. Pretty simple, but some nice views. Like so many other Auckland volcanoes, this one also has a water reservoir, although it's kind of camouflaged.

Here are some pics:

Ok here are not some pics. For some reason I can't get them to upload. I'll try again tomorrow if I get a chance.

Walk took us about 45 minutes, lots of interesting views, a little bit of farm life, and a great bronze map thingy at the top with direction and distance to all sorts of places in Auckland, NZ and the world.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No walking this weekend

Another case of busy-ness getting in the way of walking. Sigh.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Onehunga to Ambury Park, and return - 17th Mar. 2007

Yesterday we were looking for a short walk. The Book reckons Ambury Park is only an hour, and flat, so it seemed like a good option. However Nickname Pending decided to extend it by starting our plodding in Onehunga, on Princes St...

We headed down Princes St and then through the Onehunga Foreshore Park, across the SH20 overbridge, then back along the side of the motorway by the Manukau Cruising Club. Eventually we reached the old Mangere Bridge (crossed previously) and headed to the other side. We followed the signs to Ambury Park through the suburban streets, and finally reached the regional park itself.

From there it was an easy 45 minute walk in a circuit around the foreshore. Lots of sheep, lots of birds (including a pesky flock of pigeons) and a really prodigious amount of faeces. Nice views of the Manukau Heads, and interesting info boards about the natural and historical features of the area. The end of the walk went through the educational farmyard section of the park, including the biggest horse I have ever seen.

Then we walked back to Onehunga via the waterfront mainly, past a sculpture exhibition, along the old bridge, and then up Onehunga Mall to the car (much shorter than the way there!)

All up this took us around 3 hours and 45 minutes. A long time, in fact our longest walk yet. I got sore hips and ankles, from too much relentless walking on concrete.

And here are some pics.
One of the many power pylons along the route:

The view from Kiwi Esplanade back across the harbour to Hillsborough:

A lava cave in the Park:

View from the Park to the Heads, with sheep:

Moss along the Manukau foreshore on the way back to old Mangere Bridge:

(There was no walking last weekend as we had Other Stuff on)