The Long Way Round

In my previous blog I mentioned that we had to make an unexpected trip home. Its always annoying when you have to cut your trip short and you wonder why it couldn’t have happened during the last six months spent at home. Murphy’s law I guess. Anyway, with the problem resolved it was time for another trip. We have a few other things happening over the next couple of weeks including a hospital appointment for me so we didn’t want to go to far. Or be away for too long.

With Fat Cat having disgraced herself on our last trip with her failed escape attempt. We decided to leave her at home on this trip and have a few days at one of our favourite places. Shakespear Regional Park which is located less than an hours drive from where the motorhome is stored. Readers of this blog will know that we have stayed here a few times over the last couple of years and that’s because it never fails to impress. This time instead of staying in the area set aside for motorhomes we decided we would join friends Bernice and Roy in the campground. Truth be told we couldn’t have taken Fat Cat anyway as all pets are banned from this part of the park.

Bernice and Roy have been summer camp hosts here for a number of years and were in their final week at the Park. So it was good to be able to catch up with them again before they resumed their travels, Including a hoped for trip back to England now that Covid restrictions are lifting around the world. Bernice and Roy have been blogging about their travels for many years and you can follow their adventures here. Each year the park rangers bring in a portable garden that allows Bernice to grow some amazing stuff. She kindly gave me a few of her delicious chilies.

One of the things we love about this place are the number of walks through the farm. So not long after parking up the motorhome it was time to stretch the legs for the first of a number of walks. The Park is a working farm although the paddocks we strolled through had no livestock in them that day you still had to be a little careful where you put your feet 💩. The views stretching back over the sprawl of Auckland make you realise how lucky we are to have Parks like this so close to the centre of town. Somewhere where you can park the motorhome or pitch a tent and still feel that you are in the country.

Bernice had told us that the following day a school group would be arriving and they had booked out the whole camp. She also mentioned that every other school group had either cancelled or failed to show up. So Sarah got on the school Facebook page and discovered that the trip had been cancelled. After telling this to Bernice, she told us, if they failed to show we could stay in the camp rather than have to move to the self contained area as we had planned.

Without the school group and with most people now back at work with their holidays finished it was like staying in paradise. OK the tide was high at 6pm rather than during the day but that didn’t stop both of us enjoying the warm clear waters and a deserted beach.

Something that we didn’t really plan ended up being the most interesting part of our little break. We had wandered back through the Park to the entrance at Army Bay. With tide going out we impulsively decided we would walk around the headland. This despite not having water or something to snack on during the walk. The signage at the boat ramp tells that this is a three hour walk and should only be undertaken three hours either side of high tide.

For those that don’t know the headland that forms the regional Park is also home to a combined Naval/Army/Air Force base where live firing practice is carried out. So the walk around the headland takes you around the outside of this base. Here amongst the buckled and twisted rock formations are things that you don’t expect to see and some that you do. One thing that had both of us totally stumped was an old concrete path that went on for hundreds of metres over at least two separate beaches. Covering both rocks and sand before terminating at the cliff behind a wall. Possibly there was a tunnel that used to run from the cliff top down the the beach but with it all sealed up now who knows.

We also came across a couple of pillboxes dug into the cliffs. If like the ones in other parts of Auckland these either date from the 1880’s when it was though that New Zealand would be invaded by the Russians. Or when some coastal defenses were added during the second world war fearing a Japanese invasion. Wikipedia doesn’t list which. Either way neither of us felt like scrambling up the cliffs to have a closer look but I am sure many people have.

I mentioned that the walk should be undertaken three hours either side of low tide. So we assumed that meant we could walk right around without getting our feet wet. However about an hour from finishing the walk and just past Pink Beach (named due to the colour of the sand.) We reached a point where we could either scramble up and over a rather unstable rockface or wade through waist deep water. Since we knew that the water would be warm we chose to strip down to our underwear and wade past the obstruction. I didn’t take any photos of this but we both had a good laugh and rather wet underwear.

In the end it took us a bit less than the three hours to complete the walk but its something that we were both really glad we did. I don’t know if you would want to do the walk on days when they have live firing, it might be a little risky. Talking about live firing that night it sounded like we had the motorhome parked up in the streets of the Ukraine with what at first I thought were fireworks. Later I realised that they must be holding a nighttime firing exercise and with the wind blowing the sound towards us it sounded like a full on pitched battle.

Yet again we enjoyed what to me must be one of the best regional parks in the Auckland network. After three nights and three full days enjoying ourselves and a hospital appointment awaiting it was time to head back home and begin planning further adventures.

To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can then click the link to read the blog about that area.

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