17. Mt Saint Johns/ Te Kopua

Visited on 18 May

It’s been raining, and I mean really raining. The Summer drought only came to an end a few weeks ago with a week of torrential downpour. It’s been overcast and drizzling all this week and last night we had another downpour. This makes it perfect conditions to witness the existence of Mt. Saint John’s “ephemeral” crater lake. This lake (or I should say “pond”, as I was soon to discover) only forms after heavy rain and disappears/drains away a day or so later. The lake is composed of 3 metres of clay which has built up in the floor of the crater and supports a layer of peat which helps to hold the water. So this crater lake was what I specifically wanted to see for myself.

I took the Market road Exit headed right over the motorway and right again onto Mount St John Ave. So far so good and sooo easy to get to. I knew there were three entrances to the mountain so figured I’d just drive around it in a counterclockwise fashion until I came across one… that is until I found myself turning onto Mount St John Ave again. Time to stop car and consult el mappo. Turns out I was virtually parked right in front of the main entrance! Next time I would park at the end of Belvedere Street which leads to a very overgrown walkway (so overgrown that when I had first passed the other end from the road I thought it was someone’s unkempt property) which leads into the lowest side of the crater.

The entrance off Mount St John Ave

The entrance off Mount St John Ave

About to enter the park. First glimpse of the crater rim.

About to enter the park. First glimpse of the crater rim.

Right, so, where was I? At the beginning. For such a lovely mountain I was surprised to see this as the entrance. I guess I should be grateful for the rubbish bin and the wooden steps, too.

Halfway up to the rim

Halfway up to the rim

Judging by the well worn track in the red scoria this place is obviously used by people for their morning runs but now by late morning the place has an eerie deserted feel to it. Judging by the huge and numerous cowpats strewn about there were also cattle lurking somewhere and although I didn’t see one I was constantly on the look out for a bovine ambush.

Multiple kumara storage pits

Multiple kumara storage pits

The only formal plaque I could find, in the edge of a pit

The only formal plaque I could find, in the edge of a pit

When I reached the crater rim I chose to walk counter clockwise, descending to the lowest point then rising up past all the kumara pits to finally reach the summit with it’s view over the motorway of Mt Hobson and in the other direction, One Tree Hill.

More pits on the summit. Mt Hobson in the background.

More pits on the summit. Mt Hobson in the background.

Jogging track along the summit. One Tree Hill in the background.

Jogging track along the summit. One Tree Hill in the background.

What I especially noticed and appreciated about this volcano were the sizable volcanic blocks dotted around the place. Even just right in the middle of the path.

Lava bomb in the way? No worries, just build the step around it.

Bomb in the way? No worries, just build the step around it.

Interesting texture on this block of scoria just inside the domain, like there were little chunks of rock all stuck together with more rock.

Interesting texture on this block of scoria just inside the domain, like there were little chunks of rock all stuck together with more rock.

Land slip/rockfall. Mostly composed of scoria

Land slip/rockfall. Mostly composed of scoria

What follows is a series of photographs of the crater lake from different angles.

First proper view of the crater, er, "lake"

First proper view of the crater, er, “lake”

Crater lake from the lowest lying side of the rim

Crater lake from the lowest lying side of the rim

View of the "lake" from the summit. Mt Eden in the background.

View of the “lake” from the summit. Mt Eden in the background.

I only spent a short while here, half an hour perhaps (though one could easily walk the crater rim in under ten minutes, possibly five) and saw no one until I was about to leave then there was a jogger and a hiking couple. I definitely get the feeling you have to know about this place and go there with purpose. It’s not the sort of place one just stumbles across. Mt. Eden, Mt Hobson and One Tree Hill being much more obvious (and higher) targets in the region if you’re looking to climb something.

Recommended for the feeling of exploring a private volcano all to yourself. Many types of native trees. No facilities.

2 thoughts on “17. Mt Saint Johns/ Te Kopua

  1. Chris says:

    You might be interested to know that a group of 3 and 4 year old children venture up to Titiko Puke one morning a week. It is an adventure and as each week passes the children get physically stronger and their connection for this maunga grows. Their love of nature is nurtured and we all get to know one another better in this most beautiful and spiritual of places.

    • Cyanteal says:

      That’s wonderful! I know my nephews would love this adventure and I’d love to share it with them but sadly we have moved away from Auckland now.

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