During the Covid 19 lockdown, Sarah and I walked several places in and around our local area. A couple of times we strolled slightly further afield once ending up wandering down a very deserted Queen St. We also walked to an area known as Westmere and found a delightful coastal walk. It wasn’t until we had done the walk and were back home that I realised I hadn’t taken any photos.
With an almost secret entrance hidden away in a quiet residential street. We recently found our way back there, ready to re-explore and get some photos. Following the narrow pathway down the stairs, you come to the “beach”. I say beach, but it’s not somewhere to consider for your next swim with extensive tidal mudflats. However, if you owned one the houses overlooking the area you probably wouldn’t complain about the view.
Lots of these houses have a dingy or kayak pulled up at the bottom of the section. But some houses had taken it just a bit further with this private boat ramp. Although I guess launching times are somewhat restricted by the tides. It still looks like a handy place to launch into the Waitemata Harbour.
Initially, there is a well-formed track along the top of a small cliff. With bikes prohibited its safe walking even around blind corners. I would imagine in early summer with the Pohutokawas in full flower that this would be a beautiful part of the walk.
From there, the path descends to a boardwalk through the mangroves. This looks to have been completed relatively recently with the wood in as new condition. Some of the boardwalk has handrails, and some are just open without any clear apparent logic behind it. Maybe the handrails are still to come in some areas. Not that it’s far up to get back on the path if you did fall off, but it is very muddy underneath.
As you wander along, you cannot help but notice the old private access ways to the water. That has been cut off by the building of the boardwalk. Some really quite well-built jetties now no longer able to be used. Although I guess you could get a kayak under the new pathway.
You really do wonder about the stories behind some of these.
After about a kilometre the boardwalk finishes and the track heads through some regenerating bush. I don’t know what made me spot them, but I noticed these two fairy houses located just off the track. It’s nice to know that legends and myths can be just as much at home in the big city as other places we have visited. We also found fairy houses during our trip to the Wairere Boulders in Northland.
One of the things that have always mystified me about living in the city is the lack of freedom camping areas. I cannot understand why when the Auckland council has areas such as this massive, apparently unused, carpark next to the aviation museum of MOTAT, that they aren’t open to the idea. From here it’s also a short walk to the Zoo and Western Springs. You wouldn’t be in anyone’s way here unless you overstayed a maximum number of days limit. There is also a regular bus service into the city with a stop just outside the entrance to the carpark.
Or this piece of land which is closer to the Zoo. We have seen people park up in the carpark opposite Western Springs. Alongside the motorway, this used to be approved for freedom camping but would be noisy and not as suitable in my opinion as the other two. There actually are almost no freedom camping areas in our biggest city with the nearest paid spot at Z Pier in downtown Auckland. Or if you are an NZMCA member you could stay at Tui Glen.
I know the council has a problem with “transient’s” but surely there are enough people on it’s payroll that someone could take over supervising some freedom camping areas.
Just up the road a few hundred metres and on the other side of the mudflats is the Meola Reef Reserve. This is the most extended lava flow in Auckland with its origins at the Mt St John volcano in Newmarket over 11 kilometres away. Earlier last century it was also the site of a refuse tip finally closing in 1972. It’s long since been covered with soil and grassed over making the reserve as it is today. You can also exercise your dogs here, where they can join lots of others in an official off-lead area.
At low tide, you can walk out onto the remaining uncovered area of the reef for a bit of an explore. Decent footwear would be strongly recommended with lots of sharp rocks and bits rubbish caught in between them. The reef extends such a long way it feels like you can almost walk across the harbour to Birkenhead. In fact, they talked about putting a second harbour crossing here in the 1970’s. Public outcry prevented this from happening, for the best I think.
From there, it was time to work our way back to where we started. All in all, an enjoyable walk that we didn’t know existed and something worthy of taking the time to do.
From a health point of view for those who are interested. I have now had 5 rounds of chemo with a further round scheduled for July. Then in August, the process will start towards a stem cell transplant. It’s getting harder and harder to get away both with the deteriorating weather but also with the cumulative side-effects of the chemo. As such, this blog will continue to publish only on an occasional basis during the rest of 2020.
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