Visited on 3 June 2013
Maungataketake means “Everlasting Mountain” but everlasting it most certainly is not. The mountain itself is being quarried away but the volcanic ash from it has preserved a fossil forest and beneath that lies a fossil swamp.
This year I celebrated the Queen’s Birthday by taking my friend to visit some South Auckland volcanoes of potential photographic interest. Maungataketake would be followed by Otuataua, Pukeiti and Mangare Mountain. We found our way to Renton road out near the airport; every so often a plane would take off, seemingly right over our beach but apart from that it was a quiet spot.
We’d bumpily persevered down the very pot-holed Renton road and I hoped we would see something worthwhile for the hassle my poor little car went through. We did! Too early for a picnic though. We were going on a fossil forest hunt but not exactly sure what we were looking for or what we might find. We turned right once we reached the bottom of the stairs down to the beach.
Now we hit the ancient stuff as we turned our attention to the sea-ward side. The eruption of Maungataketake had destroyed an old forest, sure, but beneath the roots of those old trees was a peat swamp preserving an even more ancient (and much larger, mostly kauri tree) forest.
We crossed a little stream and it began to get a bit boggy underfoot but we pressed on, keeping as close to solid ground as possible and having an odd-shaped outcrop of land in our sights. We passed the most dilapidated old boat ramp I’d ever seen.
We called it a day on this one and decided there was nothing more to be seen from this angle. I didn’t know it at the time but a year later I would be back and INSIDE the quarry on a day that it was open.
Just as we were going up the stairs to leave a couple (who we would see again later as we explored Otuataua) came down and asked us: “Did you see them?” and it took me a moment to realise what they were asking. Yes, we’ve had the privilege of few other people in Auckland; we have met these ancient kauri trees up close and personal.
I most whole-heartedly recommend this one and especially to Aucklanders who have NO IDEA what treasure is on their back doorstep!