Visited on 3 June
When I first peered into this crater I was pretty impressed by it’s size, but it was only when I started writing this post that I realised Otuataua used to be a 64 metre high scoria cone. A CONE!!! What happened?! Well, it wasn’t known in the 1930’s as Quarry Hill for nothing.
First we drove down Ihumatao Road to take a look at the coast and the Southern side of the reserve but we didn’t see much.
Then we drove to the proper official entrance…
…and found the proper official sign.
First stop: Avocados! Anyone is welcome to enter the disused avocado orchard and permitted to take up to 5 each. Avocados don’t fruit in Winter so of course we weren’t expecting to find anything. My Summer foray, when they are in season, was hardly more productive as I only came up with 2 tiny wind fallen avos after scouring the whole orchard.
Second stop: Otuataua, the volcano itself.
There are so many wonderful vistas to behold and there’s nothing quite like first-hand experience. My photos here really don’t do the place justice.
The Ihumatao area is a place of great historical and cultural significance. According to the SOUL website, “This is the birthplace of Auckland. Within this one area, it has been said, can be found the “spirit” or “essence” of Aotearoa, New Zealand.” Near the stream backing onto the Eastern side of the reserve is Ihumatao papakainga; it is the oldest continually occupied papakainga (village) in Auckland. That’s some serious history for a young nation like New Zealand.
In addition to Maori cultivation of the land for 800 or so years, Europeans also farmed here for about a century, building higher stone walls to keep in their sheep and cows. The 1920’s & 30’s saw baches popping up along coastline as the area became a popular holiday spot. The wastewater treatment plant at Mangare soon put an end to that idyllic lifestyle in the 1960’s by polluting the air, water and seabed with Auckland’s sewerage. etc. Most of the foreshore was restored in 2001 Hooray!
I liked this volcano enough to return twice with two different people, ok ok, maybe I was just looking to scab some free avocados but maybe not. There’s definitely a pull that draws me back here. Maybe it’s all the history and the feeling that one visit is nowhere near enough time to discover it all. Maybe I just love sharing all the volcanic jewels I find. This is definitely one of them and I’m so grateful this was bought for a reserve in 1999 for the people of Auckland to enjoy. My one regret is that I never made it out as far as the coastal walkway.
Edit: It looks like the Mangare Gateway project is no longer going ahead now 😦 Instead it looks like a 480 residential development will be put in the Ihumatao area. How abysmally short-sighted. I am not impressed. Still, it’s not without opposition.
Auckland council information brochure with walking tracks found here