Visited 2 January 2013
Maori for “the short beach”, it’s Auckland’s oldest volcano and used to be home to… you guessed it -a short beach. The base of the crater is 61 metres below the current ground level. Sediment shows that before the salt-marsh and mud-flats were drained in the 1950’s it used to be a fresh water lake, much like big brother Pupuke is now.
I was a bit tired after already having walked around Tuff Crater (and back) but decided a stroll in a greener place would be worth it and I wasn’t disappointed. This turned out to be more a tour of birdlife than volcanic landforms (you have been warned!).
I took the small path off Exmouth road. There’s an official proper sign with a map and everything but nothing much else to indicate it might be anything more than a vacant lot until part way down the slope…
I continued walking sideways on a grassy slope for a while thinking to myself “Mum would hate this uneven ground and no path”, then stopped to snap this picture…
I came to a fork in the path and headed off to the right to follow the banks of a stream to a little copse (that’s just typical me seeking shade again). Found a wee bridge to cross.
Had a bit of a look-see at the waterfowl around the lake. Mostly just ducks and such.
I then headed out to the main entrance off Sylvan Ave/Tarahanga street, just to see what it would look like for most people arriving at Onepoto Domain. Pretty nice, as it turned out.
A little further round, past the car park, there is a playground for children that is a cut above the ordinary. It was getting a thrashing from about 30 children today, so no photos. It features all the fantastic stations expected of a modern playground plus more. “More” being a flying fox type thing and a scooter/bike cycle path with centrelines and roundabouts. Teach them how to be traffic aware and road safe at a young age. Yes, please!
I startled that poor pukeko well and good when he was just going about his business of foraging in some reeds in a ditch. He gave me a good idea: I left the play area behind and continued my counter-clockwise walk around the upper slopes of the basin floor. Before long I found the small track leading off to the right. I passed a few backyards, a clearing and then found myself in “bush” or more like under-brush. This part of the walk felt the most deserted of all. I could pretend, for a moment, that I didn’t live in NZ’s largest city, that I wasn’t in fact passing the overgrown backyards of well-to-do suburbia and that the sea was nowhere near.
I continued following the trail and was grateful when it became a mini board-walk. I say mini because if I had met someone walking the other way there most likely would’ve been muddy shoes, as the ground was getting rather squelchy underfoot.
A fledgling fantail was squawking about in the undergrowth demanding food, then with it’s stomach appeased it set about roosting with it’s folks on a high up twig. It was sooo cute to see this little family of fantails, about 6 of them, all squished together like a giant fluffy caterpillar balancing on a branch.
After a while of peacefulness the path started to rise and I could glimpse the same hi-vis orange fencing I saw when I entered the park and knew my journey would soon be ended. But not before trying to photograph a monarch butterfly flitting about -yeah-nah, that didn’t turn out at all well but I did hear a noise in the trees behind me and spotted this tui quenching his thirst.
This is a great place for children (but maybe not babies or toddlers due to all the water). My only regret is that I never got to take my nephews here whilst they were still living in Auckland.