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.


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